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Draft Point Source Water Quality Offsets Policy 2017

About the draft policy

The Draft Point Source Water Quality Offsets Policy (PDF, 412K) (the policy) is an update of the 2014 policy called Flexible options for managing point source emissions: A voluntary market-based mechanism for nutrient management (PDF, 876K).  

The purpose of the policy is to offer an alternative investment option for regulated point source operators to manage their water emission requirements under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, while improving water quality.

The policy provides guidance to environmental authority holders such as sewage treatment plants, quarries, abattoirs and aquaculture operations, who consider implementing water quality offsets to counterbalance the discharge loads in water emissions. Water quality offsets may come from another point source (such as a bubble licence), or the offsets may be achieved through diffuse actions such as bank stabilisation, on farm nutrient runoff reduction, and constructed wetlands.

Submissions have closed

For further information please contact the Healthy Waters Team:

  • Email:
  • Phone: Jim Fewings on (07) 3330 5655
  • Fax: (07) 3330 5996
  • Post:
    Healthy Waters,
    Department of the Environment and Science
    GPO Box 2454
    Brisbane QLD 4001

Note: Your responses may be subject to a Right to Information application.

Consultation closed 30 September 2017.

Frequently asked questions

What has changed from the 2014 policy?

The most significant changes being proposed follow:

  • providing water quality offsets in adjacent river basins
  • changed offset ratios
  • expanding the policy to include sediments
  • allowing offsets downstream of the point source release
  • considering wet vs dry weather offset options
  • ‘bubble-licence’ offsets across river basins.
Flood effects following ex-tropical cyclone Debbie on an eroded streambank adjacent to the Queensland Urban Utilities offset

Flood effects following ex-tropical cyclone Debbie on an eroded streambank adjacent to the Queensland Urban Utilities offset

Intact Queensland Urban Utilities repaired streambank

Intact Queensland Urban Utilities repaired streambank

What are examples of water quality offsets?

Examples of water quality offsets may include:

  • streambank repair work
  • gully remediation works
  • improved farm management practices (such as drip irrigation or using enhanced efficiency fertilisers)
  • implementation of constructed wetlands.

The Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) pilot offset project is an example of a water quality offset where an eroded streambank was repaired. Images show a section of the Logan River where the offset is located close to the Beaudesert sewage treatment plant. The top image shows flood effects following ex-tropical cyclone Debbie on an eroded streambank adjacent to the QUU offset. Lower image shows the intact QUU repaired streambank.

Does the application of this policy mean that the Environmental Authority (EA) holder does not have to meet their obligations?

No. The water quality offset will be part of an amendment to the current conditions of the EA. This means that the EA holder must meet its obligations as stated under the EA.

The EA holder will need to demonstrate sustainable offset design and implementation. EA conditions will include the requirement for the offset to remain durable and continue, long term, to deliver the upstream/downstream reductions in sediment and nutrient pollution.

How does this policy relate to the proposed future water quality offsets framework for reef water quality outcomes in the enhanced reef regulations?

The revised point source water quality offsets policy will apply across Queensland. In addition it represents a first step towards meeting the Reef Water Quality Science Taskforce recommendation that the Queensland Government establish a water quality offset framework that is applicable to all nitrogen and sediment sources.

How does this policy relate to similar Queensland Government offsets policies?

This policy only applies to point source water emissions regulated under the EP Act.

Off-site solutions for urban stormwater management is provided under the State Planning Policy 2017 (Water Quality).

Environmental offsets requirements for impacts on matters of State and local environmental significance are set out under the Queensland Environmental Offsets Framework, which includes the Environmental Offsets Act 2014, Environmental Offsets Regulation 2014 and related Policy 2017.

Last updated
7 November 2017