Jurisdictional information

Government jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand have their own water quality information and guidance.

For example, many jurisdictions have derived their own guideline values for physical and chemical (PC) stressors at a catchment, basin or physiographic level. Some jurisdictions have included these in legislation.

Water and sediment quality assessments using such localised (geographically derived) guideline values and advice targeted to the local scale will always be more accurate than, and should take precedence over, using default guideline values (DGVs) provided in the Water Quality Guidelines.

We recommend that you search for relevant information in your jurisdiction. Water quality information for some jurisdictions has been provided for you.

New Zealand

Refer to Your location — New Zealand for DGVs for freshwater and estuaries.

The Ministry for the Environment has published:

New South Wales

Fresh water quality management in New South Wales.
Tools and resources for water quality managers.

Northern Territory

Water resources of the Northern Territory are managed mainly by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Annual Darwin Harbour region report cards summarise water quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems across the harbour and its catchments.


The Environmental Protection (Water and Wetland Biodiversity) Policy 2019 (EPP Water and Wetland Biodiversity) aims to protect the quality of Queensland waters (fresh, estuarine and coastal/marine), while allowing for ecologically sustainable development. The EPP Water and Wetland Biodiversity is subordinate legislation to the Queensland Environmental Protection Act 1994.

The EPP Water and Wetland Biodiversity provides the framework for establishing local environmental values, management goals and water quality objectives for Queensland waters, which, once finalised are included in schedule 1 of the EPP Water and Wetland Biodiversity. The Department of Environment and Science in collaboration with science providers, regional natural resource management (NRM) bodies, government, industry and other stakeholders, has been progressively developing these for Queensland waters.

EPP Water and Wetland Biodiversity - Schedule 1 environmental values and water quality objectives are available from the Department of Environment and Science. It includes documents and mapping listed by region. Schedule 1 environmental values and water quality objectives are considered by planners and managers when making decisions that may impact Queensland waters.

The department has also prepared a water monitoring and sampling manual outlining Queensland protocols for sampling design, physico-chemical assessment, biological assessment and data handling.

Report cards based on water quality monitoring and other aquatic assessments have been prepared across various Queensland regions to document trends in waterway health. Further information on water quality and ecosystem health monitoring, initiatives to protect and manage Great Barrier Reef waters, and the processes for regulating environmentally relevant activities is in ‘Environment land and water'.

South Australia

The South Australian Environment Protection Authority (SA EPA) is responsible for protecting waters (inland surface, groundwater and marine) against harm from pollution or waste. It does this by implementing risk-based regulatory functions and providing advice and water quality information across government, industry and community sectors.

The SA EPA operates a state-wide Aquatic Ecosystems Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting program for the assessment of aquatic ecosystems. Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECRs) are published annually, based on multiple lines of evidence, in a condition–pressure–response format. The Water Quality Guidelines are used as a line of evidence in this assessment framework.

New regional water quality guideline values for PC stressors are expected to be completed in 2020. These guideline values will be based on a combination of biological or ecological-effects data and summary statistical data relevant to each region.

Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015

This policy is subordinate legislation to the South Australian Environment Protection Act 1993. The policy supports the general environmental duty requirement that all reasonable and practicable measures must be taken to prevent or minimise environmental harm. In doing so, persons who pollute or might pollute waters must avoid exceeding (to an extent that is reasonably practicable) the Water Quality Guidelines (if relevant waters are declared to have those environmental/community values).


Water quality management in Tasmania is governed by the State Policy on Water Quality Management (1997) (the Water Quality Policy) and provides for the implementation of the National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS). Protected Environmental Values have been determined by agreement between the Tasmanian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Board, and the planning and water management authorities with jurisdiction over those water, for all of Tasmania’s inland waterways and estuaries. The Water Quality Policy provides guidance on potential environmental values for coastal waters and groundwater.

Part of the process for protecting the environmental values involves determining site-specific water quality guideline values for key water quality indicators. In most cases the protection of aquatic ecosystem guideline values are the most conservative values.

Tasmanian default water quality guidelines values for protecting aquatic ecosystems are available for the following ecosystem types:

Default guideline values (DGVs) for aquatic ecosystems are considered in the process detailed in the Water Quality Policy and the Technical Guidance for Water Quality Objective Setting for Tasmania when the EPA Board determines water quality objectives.

More information on Tasmania’s water policy and related strategies and guidelines for protecting or enhancing water quality are available from EPA Tasmania.


The Department for Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) sets policies for water management in Victoria.

DELWP works closely with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Victoria to set environmental quality objectives for all waters in the state, obligations for agencies and rules for businesses.

EPA Victoria publishes:

The state environment protection policies (SEPPs) for surface waters and groundwaters are currently under review and will be combined into a single policy in 2020, to be known as ‘State Environment Protection Policy (Waters)’.

Western Australia

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation supports Western Australia’s growth and development by managing the availability and quality of water — now and for the future. Refer to the department’s information about water quality in Western Australia, including public drinking water source areas, salinity and best management practices for various land uses and activities to help protect water quality and public health. Specific information is available on monitoring and assessing water quality and managing water quality.

  • Cockburn Sound environmental management, to protect and maintain water quality and associated environmental values of the Cockburn Sound marine area.
  • Contaminated site guidelines to help with assessment and management of known and suspected contaminated sites. DGVs may be adopted as Tier 1 screening criteria for assessing risks to human health, the environment and environmental values.

The Environmental Protection Authority, Western Australia has published:

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Parks and Wildlife Service has published several technical reports on the Swan Canning Riverpark that ascertain natural background levels at the time of sampling for selected water and sediment quality indicators for comparison against the relevant default trigger values, as well as information on water quality and ecological health issues and programs.

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