The Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters
The Australian National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS) aims to achieve the sustainable use of Australia’s and New Zealand’s water resources by protecting and enhancing their quality while maintaining economic and social development. The NWQMS is a joint strategy developed by two Ministerial Councils — the Agriculture and Resources Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ) and the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC). The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is involved in aspects of the strategy that affect public health. The NWQMS aims to meet future needs by providing policies, a process and national guidelines for water quality management.
The Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Waters (ANZECC 1992) was one of a suite of 21 documents forming the NWQMS and was released in 1992 as one of the first guideline documents. In 1993 the ANZECC Standing Committee on Environmental Protection (SCEP) agreed to review the water quality guidelines to incorporate current scientific, international and national information in a clear and understandable document. Target values
The guidelines do provied trigger values
that have been mostly derived primarily according to risk assessment principles, using data from laboratory tests in clean water. These values are meant to represent the best current estimates of the concentrations of chemicals that should have no significant adverse effects on the aquatic ecosystem. Speciation
The issue of the chemical form of physical and chemical indicators (that is, the compound(s) of the indicator present in the sample) is considered to be relevant regardless of the use envisaged for the water. Speciation
(the form of the chemical) assumes critical importance where the environmental value concerns ecosystem protection or human health. The guidelines specify that the form of the indicators needs to be determined and those chemical species that are likely to affect the environmental value must be identified. However, the guidelines state that the approach used in the past, were total (i.e. unfiltered) concentrations were measured and compared with guideline values, probably overestimates the amount of deleterious form(s) of the indicator and therefore may be considered to be overconservative. As a refinement the guidelines recommend to measure and compare total filtered concentrations, which also is considered to be a conservative approach (though less so) because the diversity of chemical forms of a physical and chemical indicator in the solution may have different effects on an environmental value. Related Information EVISA Link Database: Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, Volume 1, The Guidelines (Chapters 1-7) EVISA Link Database: Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, Volume 2, Aquatic Ecosystems - Rationale and Background Information EVISA Link Database: Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, Volume 3, Primary Industries - Rationale and Background Information EVISA Link database: Australian Guidelines for Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting (2000), Chapters 1-7