Community values

We can define a community value as a particular value or use of the environment that is important for a healthy ecosystem or for public benefit, health, safety or welfare, and requires protection from the effects of stressors.

Australian states and territories and New Zealand may use other terms for community values, such as environmental values, beneficial uses or national values.

Your jurisdiction may have established community values, so it is important you check with the relevant authorities in your jurisdiction for this information.

In the Water Quality Guidelines, we recognise these community values:

  • aquatic ecosystems — the health or integrity of the waterway’s ecosystem(s)
  • cultural and spiritual values — water is particularly important for indigenous peoples
  • drinking water — water is suitable for human consumption
  • industrial water — water is suitable for use by industry, for example mining, manufacturing, cooling and electricity generation
  • primary industries — water is suitable for irrigation, livestock drinking water, aquaculture and human consumers of aquatic foods
  • recreational water and aesthetics — recreation can be undertaken without risk of sickness or disease or loss of aesthetic appeal.

Not all community values will apply to each individual waterway.

You can identify the community values relevant for a particular waterway through a process of stakeholder involvement. This should always be undertaken early in the process, at Step 2 of the Water Quality Management Framework, for whatever your use is (e.g. assessing a waste discharge, developing a water quality management plan).

Each community value will have more specific management goals — also agreed to with stakeholders — that will then guide the development of water/sediment quality objectives.

See also: