Catchment management and water quality
is an area of land, bound by hills or mountains from which all runoff
water flows to the same low point, which could be a lake, dam, river,
creek, bay, wetland or estuary where it enters the sea. Catchments
are connected from top to bottom, so what happens upstream in a
catchment has a large influence further down the catchment. This
is why it is important to manage a catchment as a whole, rather
than in parts.
One of the
greatest threats to marine environments is from land use and development
in the catchment. Agricultural use and the progressive urbanisation
of land and removal of vegetation leads to substantial changes in
both the quality and quantity of water discharged from a catchment.
Agricultural and urban runoff contains large amounts of accumulated
pollutants, including nitrogen, phosphorus, suspended solids, organic
particles and heavy metals.
also include stormwater and wastewater infrastructure which often
terminate in the ocean or bays. The quality of water draining from
these outfalls can have a detrimental impact on the health of estuarine
and marine environments.
The State Environmental
Protection Policy SEPP (Waters of Victoria) applies to all surface
waters of Victoria and aims to provide a co-ordinated approach for
the protection and, where necessary, rehabilitation of the health
of Victoria's water environments. Specific schedules to SEPP (Waters
of Victoria) deal with individual catchments and have more detailed
requirements that apply within the catchments.
management within catchments is essential for the survival of habitats
and the flora and fauna that live within them. Each of the five
catchments that border the Victorian coast has a Regional Catchment
Strategy, prepared by a Catchment Management Authority. These strategies
demonstrate the connections between land, water, and biodiversity
with human and natural activities that occur there. Regional Catchment
Strategies outline what needs to be done to plan, manage, conserve
and use the natural assets in a sustainable and integrated way.
River Health Strategy and regional river health strategies also
contain actions to reduce impacts on downstream environments.
integration and collaboration between catchment, coastal,
and marine management and programs to reduce the impact of
catchment-based land use and activity on the coast.
the impact of effluent and stormwater discharge on marine and
estuarine environments by effective treatment and reuse, and
water conservation approaches to minimise volumes.
Improve and upgrade all ocean outfalls and where possible achieve
best practice environmental water management by relocating to
a non-sea or ocean disposal area for recycling and re-use.
and implement stormwater management plans, prioritising those
actions which address source control and are consistent with
water sensitive urban design principles.
Establish a marine, estuarine and coastal technical reference group
to review regional catchment strategies, propose actions, develop
and assess funding priorities and provide coastal, estuarine and
marine expertise to catchment management authorities, as required
Consolidate and integrate frameworks and programs to address land
based sources of marine pollution to the bays, Gippsland Lakes,
and other priority areas (CMA, RCB,
Establish and coordinate a working group of relevant agencies to
assess water quality impacts by septic tanks in non-sewered areas
in coastal communities (VCC,
EPA, LG, VWA).
Promote the need for major land use and operational changes in farming
practices to reduce the impact of catchment discharges that impact
on the health of marine ecosystems (CMA,
DPI, DSE, LG).