John Bennett in consultation with the NWQMS Contact Group
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts - November 2008
- Discussion paper on implementation of the National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS) (PDF 3,494KB) | (ZIP 2,577KB)
- Chapters 1 - 4 (PDF 409KB) | (RTF 1,042KB)
- Chapters 5 - 8 (PDF 1,185KB) | (RTF 2,096KB)
- Appendices 1 - 3 (PDF 74KB) | (RTF 142KB)
- Appendices 4 - 6 (PDF 331KB) | (RTF 759KB)
- Appendices 7 - 9 (PDF 98KB) | (RTF 195KB)
- Appendices 10 - 14 (PDF 862KB) | (RTF 1,794KB)
- Appendix 15 (PDF 197KB) | (RTF 286KB)
- Appendices 16 - 17 (PDF 745KB) | (RTF 5,660KB)
Background - NWQMS to date
The National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS) is the main mechanism for water quality management in Australia (see Appendix 1). The Strategy was jointly developed in the 1990s by the Agricultural & Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ) and the Australian and New Zealand Environment & Conservation Council (ANZECC). These two Ministerial Councils are now the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (NRMMC) and the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC). They continue to have responsibility for overseeing implementation of the NWQMS which is carried out by state and territory governments (and others).
The NWQMS and its guideline documents relate to various components of WQ Management and are broken down under the following headings:
- Policies and Process for Water Quality Management
- Water Quality Benchmarks
- Groundwater Management, and
- Guidelines for Diffuse and Point Sources.
The NWQMS document Policies and Principles is based on a strategy of high-status national guidelines with local implementation and emphasises the importance of:
- ecologically sustainable development
- integrated (or total) catchment management, and
- best management practices, including the use of acceptable modern technology and waste minimisation and utilisation.
Fundamental to the relevance and success of the NWQMS is that it provides guidance that can be readily tailored to suit legislative and institutional arrangements across jurisdictions and the specific task being undertaken. Governments have made substantial progress in water quality management, using the NWQMS as a key reference and source of guiding policies and principles.
The process for water quality management starts with the community working in concert with government to develop a management plan for each catchment, aquifer, estuary, coastal water or other waterbody. The plan should take account of all existing and proposed activities and developments; it should contain feasible management options that aim to achieve the environmental values (EVs) that have been agreed for that waterbody. The process is outlined in NWQMS Implementation Guidelines and schematically represented in Figure 1 from a national perspective and in Figure 2 from a specific catchment perspective.
Purpose of this Review of Implementation of the NWQMS
The purpose of this project is to rapidly review implementation of the NWQMS across Australia and New Zealand and recommend a range of suggested actions to DEWHA and the NWQMS contact group for possible future developments to improve its implementation. The project scope does not include assessing the feasibility of the suggested actions.
This report represents one source of information to be used by DEWHA and the NWQMS contact group for their discussions on the need for and extent of a potential review of the NWQMS components.