National Water Quality Management Strategy: Implementation guidelines

​​Publication details

Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand and the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council, 1998

The aim of this document is to assist government agencies and the community to prepare and implement plans to manage the nation's water resources. It also provides information on determining the quality aspects of the water authority's water, sewerage and drainage services.




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Water is one of Australia's most important natural resources. As Australia grows and develops, water resources are increasingly under pressure.

The National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS) provides the information and tools to help communities manage their water resources to meet current and future needs. It provides policies, a process and a series of national guidelines for water quality management.

The strategy's policy objective is to achieve sustainable use of the nation's water resources by protecting and enhancing their quality while maintaining economic and social development.

The objective will be achieved by applying a number of principles to water quality management, including:

  • ecologically sustainable development
  • an integrated approach to water quality management
  • community involvement in setting water quality objectives and developing management plans
  • government endorsement of the water quality objectives.

The process for water quality management uses the concept of environmental values to set local water quality targets. These targets are established by government, either directly or in partnership with the community.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) supports the development of the National Water Quality Strategy through the adoption of a package of market-based and regulatory measures, including the establishment of appropriate water quality monitoring and catchment management policies and community consultation and awareness.

The product is sustainable water resources of a quality that meets the community's needs.

These implementation guidelines describe the steps in developing and implementing plans to manage fresh and coastal waters and groundwater. They cover the use of the strategy's various guidelines, preparation of water quality management plans, and development of levels of service provided by water authorities. They also outline a step by step approach that may be used to develop an effective community communication program.