governments and Ministerial Councils

Chapter 1: IntroductionOctober 2000 page 1-1Chapter OneIntroduction1.1. BackgroundAll the governments and Ministerial Councils of Australia agree that Australia’s water resources needecologically sustainable management; that is,…

Chapter 1: IntroductionOctober 2000 page 1-1Chapter OneIntroduction1.1. BackgroundAll the governments and Ministerial Councils of Australia agree that Australia’s water resources needecologically sustainable management; that is, management with a long-term perspective, for this andfuture generations. Ecologically sustainable management will ensure that:• high quality water is available for consumption;• adequate water supplies are available for both agricultural and industrial production;• ecological values are enhanced and protected; and• the community’s need for water-based recreation and related amenities are met.Therefore, the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) andthe Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ)have formulated the National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS) (see Appendix 1 fordetails), with the objective of achievingsustainable use of the nation’s water resources by protecting and enhancing their qualitywhile maintaining economic and social development.The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is involved in aspects of theNWQMS that affect public health. The NWQMS has been adopted as part of the Council ofAustralian Governments (COAG) Water Reform Framework (Appendix 2).ANZECC and ARMCANZ are pursuing the NWQMS policy objective by organising the productionof high-status national guidelines which are to be implemented locally. The ImplementationGuidelines (ANZECC & ARMCANZ 1998), NWQMS paper no. 3, outlines the process forprotecting water quality. It recommends the use of both regulatory and market-based approaches, in acatchment management framework with community involvement. The Australian and New ZealandGuidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZECC & ARMCANZ 2000), NWQMS paperno. 4, provides guidelines for water quality and is complemented by the Australian Guidelines forWater Quality Monitoring and Reporting, NWQMS paper no. 7, ‘the Monitoring Guidelines’, thisdocument. Monitoring is an integral part of the NWQMS, and the Monitoring Guidelines aims toensure that water quality monitoring in Australia is done in a nationally consistent, systematic andscientifically appropriate manner. This set of guidelines leads the way to better planned water qualitymonitoring and reporting programs which should collect good quality data and provide usefulinformation to managers of natural resources.The National Land and Water Resources Audit of water monitoring in Australia (EA/NLWRA2000), indicates that state and territory agencies are engaged in 70% of water quality monitoringprograms, and local government in 19%, and that Commonwealth agencies, industry, tertiaryinstitutions and community groups do the rest. Community groups contribute to monitoringprograms either individually or through structures such as integrated catchment managementcommittees and Waterwatch and relevant state programs (Appendix 3). With such a wide rangeof organisations providing data, incompatibilities can occur, sometimes making it difficult tointerpret and compare results.The Monitoring Guidelinespage 1-2 October 20001.2. Scope of Water Quality MonitoringAustralia is a continent encompassing many diverse water bodies. The water resources of greatestsignificance include drinking water supplies and catchments, rivers, lakes and aquifers, and estuarineand marine waters that have economic, ecological or cultural value. There is no need to monitor themall; nor are there enough personnel and money for the monitoring of all the resources that need it.Risk assessment of the potential impacts of declining water quality can be used to identify the waterresources or water bodies that should be monitored first.Water quality investigations are undertaken to provide information on the health of water bodies andfor the management of catchments and water resources and the environment. They may be singlestudies to examine a particular issue, or they may be ongoing monitoring programs. Monitoringprograms can assess water quality in comparison with water quality objectives, and considermeasurement parameters, ranges of concentrations and frequency of measurement, and identify pointand non-point sources of contaminants. For example, a monitoring program might be able todemonstrate a relationship between changes in land management and the frequency of algal bloomsin a catchment. A uniform, coordinated and efficient series of monitoring programs will improve theinformation available: for example,• to provide a basis for auditing contaminant controls and assessing impacts on water quality;• to underpin the State of the Environment reporting and National Audit reporting;• to develop better water quality standards and guidelines and to assess water quality against these.Water quality investigations are expensive, and few organisations have the resources to monitor overa large geographical area or over a long time frame. Resources tend to be targeted to meet specificregional needs. State government agencies will continue to bear the prime responsibility for settingpriorities for monitoring and reporting within their own jurisdictions and for meeting nationallyagreed objectives. As these agencies improve the coordination of monitoring they will eliminateduplication and gaps in information collection, particularly if they also draw on supplementaryinformation collected by initiatives such as Landcare, State of the Rivers, or State of the Environmentreporting (Environment Australia 1996, 1998), as appropriate.It can be difficult to aggregate data to provide statewide or national reports, such as for State of theEnvironment reporting. The difficulties are reduced when standard approaches are used for thedesign, implementation and reporting of water quality monitoring programs, at least with respect tokey measurement parameters. Ideally, the design of each program ensures that the data are collectedor generated in a form that can be integrated and compared with similar data collected elsewhere inAustralia; for example, the program can measure a set of parameters at the same time-intervals ashave been used in a comparable program elsewhere. Reports on the monitoring program shouldinclude information about the collection, management, analysis and storage techniques used.Communication between water protection groups about a monitoring program that is being plannedcan also help make concurrent programs compatible with each other. Data sets can be collated andcompared at a later stage to develop a wider picture from the data.1.3. Structure of a Monitoring ProgramEffective water quality investigations systematically collect physical, chemical and biologicalinformation, and analyse, interpret and report those measurements, all according to a carefully preplanned design which follows a basic structure.This Monitoring Guidelines document sets out a standard structure for the design of a monitoringprogram (see Figure 1.1). The chapters lead the monitoring team through the necessary stages. Eachchapter contains a summary flowchart and checklist, and discusses how to:• define information requirements and objectives for monitoring programs (Chapter 2);Chapter 1: IntroductionOctober 2000 page 1-3• design a study, including its type, scale, measurement parameters and sampling programs, andpreferred methods for sampling (Chapters 3 and 4);• design a laboratory program including preferred methods for laboratory and field analysis(Chapters 4 and 5);• set up quality assurance and quality control procedures (Chapters 4 and 5);• be aware of occupational health and safety concerns (Chapters 4 and 5);• statistically analyse and interpret the data (Chapter 6 and Appendix 5);• report and disseminate information to various audiences, and collate feedback (Chapter 7).Sometimes, more detailed advice will be required and this can either be found in the appendixes or inreferences or other listed sources.Figure 1.1. Framework for a water quality monitoring program.Each box is dealt with by one chapter of the Monitoring Guidelines,from Chapter 2 to Chapter 7.It is important to remember that the design of a monitoring program is an iterative process, asindicated in Figure 1.1, and that earlier components in the structure should be refined on the basis offindings in later stages.The Monitoring Guidelines is intended for use by water quality personnel with basic technicaltraining, involved in environmental monitoring throughout Australia, working in agencies, waterauthorities, catchment management authorities, councils, industry, consulting companies and tertiaryinstitutions, and it should also be helpful for community groups.The Monitoring Guidelinespage 1-4 October 2000

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