Water quality objectives
We can define the water/sediment quality objectives as the guideline value or narrative statement for each selected indicator that should ensure the protection of all identified community values.
The main purpose of water quality objectives and sediment quality objectives is to guide management.
To protect community values and specific management goals agreed by stakeholders, develop water/sediment quality objectives:
- for all indicators relevant to the water/sediment quality issues being addressed
- from scientifically derived guideline values for water/sediment quality.
Choose the most stringent guideline value or narrative statement for each indicator to ensure that all community values are protected.
Setting and refining water/sediment quality objectives
Water/sediment quality objectives should reflect the level of water/sediment quality necessary — sometimes in the longer term — to meet the agreed management goals. They reflect what could be considered ‘good’ or ‘fit-for-purpose’ water/sediment quality.
When water/sediment quality objectives are first defined they are called ‘draft’, and they remain draft until it can be determined that the objectives are achievable (at Step 9 of the Water Quality Management Framework). Draft objectives have not yet accounted for economic and social considerations.
Draft water/sediment quality objectives may need to be refined if they are not achievable. Typically, they may not be achievable on the basis of cultural and spiritual, socioeconomic or technical considerations.
Refinement of objectives could include a set of incremental water/sediment quality objectives that are focused on improvement towards meeting the original management goals in the longer term.
Although the water/sediment quality objectives are not directly influenced by socioeconomic considerations, they may change as a result of a change in the management goal.
Draft objectives become final when you can demonstrate that they can met — or are expected to be met — by one or more of the management strategies, and are also culturally, economically and socially acceptable.