Environmental Protection Policy (Water and Wetland Biodiversity)

Update: Great Barrier Reef water quality objectives

Great Barrier Reef River Basins End-of-Basin Load Water Quality Objectives (PDF, 815.1KB) (Reef WQOs) have been finalised for all Great Barrier Reef catchments. Further details provided below.

Background

The quality of Queensland waters is protected under the Environmental Protection (Water and Wetland Biodiversity) Policy 2019 (EPP (Water and Wetland Biodiversity)). The EPP (Water and Wetland Biodiversity) achieves the object of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) to protect Queensland's waters while supporting ecologically sustainable development. Queensland waters include water in rivers, streams, wetlands, lakes, groundwater aquifers, estuaries and coastal areas.

Environmental values (EVs) and water quality objectives (WQOs) are being progressively determined for areas of Queensland. EVs define the uses of the water by aquatic ecosystems and for human uses (e.g. drinking water, irrigation, aquaculture, recreation). WQOs define objectives for the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the water (e.g. nitrogen content, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, toxicants, fish). Please see the fact sheet (PDF, 421.5KB) for more detail.

In high ecological value (HEV) areas, WQOs are to be maintained. In slightly disturbed (SD) areas, water quality is to be improved where needed, to achieve WQOs.

In moderately disturbed areas, water quality needs to be maintained, or improved where needed, to meet WQOs. In highly disturbed (HD) areas, water quality is to be improved so that it achieves the WQOs.

As EVs and WQOs are defined for Queensland Waters, they are added to Schedule 1 of the EPP (Water and Wetland Biodiversity), while the Reef WQOs are added under s11(4) of the policy. For areas where EVs and WQOs have not yet been defined, a Healthy Waters Management Plan (HWMP) or Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP) may be used in local decision making.

State information on water quality may be obtained from the Queensland Water Quality Guidelines (QWQG) and national information from the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (ANZG, 2018). Each of these documents states the importance of defining local guidelines and objectives.

Great Barrier Reef River Basins End-of-Basin Load Water Quality Objectives

As part of the Reef protection regulations, the Great Barrier Reef River Basins End-of-Basin Load Water Quality Objectives have been finalised for all Great Barrier Reef catchments. These objectives are derived from the end-of-catchment anthropogenic water quality targets set out under the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. The Reef WQOs address requirements under chapter 4A of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to establish annual loads for sediments and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN). The objectives are to be achieved and maintained as per s11(4) of the EPP (Water and Wetland Biodiversity), through consideration when assessing new and expanding development within the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

EPP (Water and Wetland Biodiversity) schedule documents and mapping

Finalised EPP (Water and Wetland Biodiversity) schedule documents and map plans are available by region from the list of regions on the left side of this page. Where regions have not been scheduled, their status is also available from the list. Also refer to the following status maps:

Spatial datasets and mapping methods

Spatial datasets for scheduled areas are available from the Queensland Spatial Catalogue, QSpatial. Search for ‘EPP’.

The department has prepared a mapping procedural guide (PDF, 526.6KB) outlining the procedures taken in developing mapping under the EPP (Water and Wetland Biodiversity). The guide includes an explanation of mapping procedures for project area boundaries, EVs catchments, water types, and management intent.

Related information

Contact details

For further information please contact the Healthy Waters Policy and Strategy Team:

  • by email at 
  • by mail to the Healthy Waters Policy and Strategy Team at GPO Box 2454, Brisbane QLD 4001