Australian and New Zealand Environment Ministers have given approval to undertake a revision of the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (known in New Zealand as the “ANZECC guidelines”). These guidelines are a key resource for managing water quality and protecting aquatic ecosystems in Australia and New Zealand.
There have been substantial new data and advances in monitoring and assessment methods since the guidelines were published in 2000. The revised guidelines will incorporate new data on a wide range of contaminants, toxic chemicals, and physical and chemical stressors.
A high-level Joint Steering Committee has been established to oversee the revision. The Joint Steering Committee comprises senior officials from Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand is represented on the committee by a senior Ministry for the Environment official. The JSC also includes representatives of indigenous people from both countries. The JSC is chaired by Mr Graeme Milligan, from the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Resource Management. The detailed components of the revision are being coordinated by six Technical Working Groups responsible for specific revision tasks. New Zealand scientists and/or officials are included in all working groups.
The six Working Groups are focussed on particular parts of the guidelines revision. The Working Groups are:
Cultural and spiritual environmental values are briefly referenced in the ANZECC 2000 guidelines, but no monitoring guidance is provided to assist in the protection and management of these particular environmental values. As part of this review cultural and spiritual environmental values are being discussed and an approach for incorporating these values will be considered.
With input from stakeholders the Working Groups will make recommendations to Ministers through the JSC on draft revisions to the guidelines.
The scope of the review is to:
For New Zealand, there are now separate guidelines for contact recreation and for drinking-water (New Zealand Drinking-Water Standards) (Ministry of Health website).
The revision is in three phases and is expected to take up to three years (mid to late 2012):
Some Working Groups have already canvassed specific stakeholders to clarify how the Guidelines are used and other issues around the existing Guidelines. Additional targeted stakeholder consultation will occur during Phase 1. Ministry for the Environment provided input and New Zealand stakeholder comments on the guidelines when the Scope of Works for revision was developed in 2008/9. Working groups and government departments are currently discussing the best way to engage stakeholders throughout the revision.
The JSC met on 15 March and again on 30 August 2010 to discuss progress and issues updates from the Working Group Chairs, coordination mechanisms and communication needs.
Working Groups continue to plan and undertake Phase 1 activities and scope details of Phase 2 revisions.
For further information on the revision of the Guidelines, please contact Amanda Hunt at the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment on (04) 439 7521.
All Working Groups met face to face by August 2010. The primary purpose of these initial workshops was to determine and schedule high priority revisions for Phase 1 and begin to identify and scope more detailed revisions to be undertaken in Phase 2. Additionally, the workshops provided a forum to canvas and discuss technical, strategic or philosophical issues associated with the guidelines’ revision.
Key outcomes of each of the Working Groups:
Further information about the guidelines revision:
Information about the existing guidelines:
Last updated: 15 December 2010