The conceptual approach to managing water quality comprises causal pressures, consequent in-stream pressures/stressors and their impacts on values/uses. Theoretically, depending on our knowledge of the link between these components, we can develop indicators and guidelines for any of these components.
hEVs – human use Indicators and Guidelines Human consumers The Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code (ANZFSC) contains national guideline levels of natural contaminants and chemical residues in foods including fish and shellfish. Drinking water A revised set of drinking water guidelines has recently been released. Australian Drinking Water Guidelines . Industrial water There are currently no guidelines Cultural heritage There are currently no guidelines
Human recreation (Primary, secondary and visual) A national set of indicators and associated guidelines were adopted in toto by both the ANZECC 1992 Guidelines and the ANZECC 2000 Guidelines. A new set of national guidelines for recreation have been released.
Primary industries (Irrigation, stock watering and aquaculture) A large range of indicators and associated guideline values for each of these EVs are contained in the ANZECC 2000 guidelines . State agencies and/or regional bodies normally adopt these national values as is, the rationale being that the effects of salinity on crops or stock are unlikely to be much different between different parts of Australia. However, where there is specific local information, there is scope to develop different guideline values to those in ANZECC or even to develop new indicators.
EVs – aquatic ecosystem Indicators and Guidelines Aquatic ecosystem protection
The ANZECC 2000 Guidelines (section 22.214.171.124) introduced the concept of three levels of protection. Under this concept, different guideline values can be applied to each level of protection rather than having a ‘one guideline fits all’ approach. These levels of protection and suggested guideline approaches are summarised below:
High ecological/conservation value waters
Slightly to moderately disturbed waters
ANZECC 2000 Guidelines
Guidelines developed at a local level
Highly disturbed waters
This category recognises that there are many water bodies in Australia that are substantially degraded. Bringing these up to the standard of the ANZECC 2000 Guidelines is not feasible in the short or medium term. Therefore less stringent guidelines may be developed at a local level, while still recognising the need to maintain a reasonably functional ecosystem.
Main ecosystem components water quality Compared to other stream components, guidelines for water quality are well-developed. The ANZECC 2000 guidelines provides default guideline values for a range of regions and water types. They also provide a framework that allows users to develop their own locally-specific guidelines. riparian habitat There are no comprehensive guidelines for riparian habitat. For information on indicators and/or guidelines for riparian zones, see:
- Sustainable Rivers Audit
- Land and Water Australia publications
flow There are no comprehensive guidelines for flow. For information on indicators and/or guidelines for flow, see:
physical form There are no comprehensive guidelines for physical form. For information on indicators and/or guidelines for physical form, see:
- Sustainable Rivers Audit
- A Rehabilitation Manual for Australian streams (Land and Water Australia)
biota There are no formal guidelines for biological indicators. In general, guidelines need to be developed at a local level using the reference approach. For recommendations on indicators and/or guidelines for biota, see:
- Sustainable Rivers Audit 1
- Sustainable Rivers Audit 2
- Australia-wide assessment of river health
- Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (SE Qld)
Tailoring guidelines to local conditions
By tailoring national guideline values to local conditions, the values become much more relevant and useful. The ANZECC 2000 Guidelines provides guidance on how local guidelines should be developed, using reference data (see section 126.96.36.199).
The following local guidelines are examples of some that have already been developed:
Queensland Water Quality Guidelines (draft released October 2004)
Victorian Drinking Water Guidelines