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Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality

​​The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (the Guidelines) have been prepared as part of Australia’s National Water Quality Management Strategy​ (NWQMS) and relate to New Zealand’s National Agenda for Sustainable Water Management.

They provide government and the general community (particularly catchment/water managers, regulators, industry, consultants and community groups) with a sound set of tools for assessing and managing ambient water quality in natural and semi-natural water resources.

The vast range of environments, ecosystem types and food production systems in Australia and New Zealand require a critically discerning approach to setting water quality objectives. The Guidelines provide recommendations that water managers can use to guide practice and formulate policy, taking into account local conditions and associated costs and benefits. The result should be more efficient and cost-effective environmental management.

Volume 1—The guidelines

The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality provide a framework for recognising and protecting water quality for the full range of existing environmental values. They provide an authoritative guide for setting water quality objectives required to sustain current or likely future environmental values for natural and semi-natural water resources in Australia and New Zealand. The guidelines are not mandatory standards. They are to provide government, industry, consultants and community groups with a set of tools that enable the assessment and management of ambient surface water quality in a wide range of water resource types, and according to designated environmental values.

See Volume 1—The guidelines

Volume 2—Aquatic ecosystems—rationale and background information

Volume 2—Aquatic ecosystems focuses on the issue-based management of water quality, and the measurement of biological parameters and related physical and chemical parameters, in both water and sediment. Guidelines have been developed for indicator types (e.g. biological assessment, sediment quality and environmental flows). In addition to this, the volume specifically addresses biological indicators, physical and chemical stressors, toxicants, sediment quality guidelines and priorities for research and development.

See Volume 2—Aquatic ecosystems—rationale and background information

Volume 3—Primary industries—rationale and background information

The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality have amalgamated agriculture, aquaculture and human consumption of aquatic foods into one environmental value called ‘Primary Industries’. Water quality resources plays a critical role in agriculture and aquaculture in Australia and New Zealand. Water quality is also of major importance for the protection of human consumers of food products. In keeping with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, Volume 3 has been developed to take consideration of not only productivity issues but also the possible adverse impacts of these primary industries on downstream water quality.

See Volume 3—Primary industries—rationale and background information

Document 7: Australian guidelines for water q​uality and monitoring and reporting

The Australian Guidelines for Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting has been developed as a benchmark document of the National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS). It relates closely to the revised Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality and provides the guidance necessary for designing monitoring programs with which to assess water quality in freshwater, marine waters and groundwaters.

The Australian Guidelines for Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting encourages an efficient, quality-assured and consistent approach to water quality monitoring. The resulting data should be able to be compared across regions and through time, and integrated or collated to report trends, and the resulting information should be able to be trusted to form a sound basis from which to manage water quality and the Australian environment. See Australian guidelines for water quality and monitoring and reporting.