Policy Update – October 2022

Practical guidance documents to support the implementation of EPA revised guideline for water recycling

Since the last update, industry feedback on the drafts of the three guidance documents (guidance on preparing Health and Environmental Management Plans (HEMPs) for Class B and C Recycled Water Schemes; guidance on producing User Site Management Plans (USMPs) for Class B and C Recycled Water Schemes; HEMP auditing guidance) has been received and is being assessed.

Feedback is now being sought from EPA and DELWP.  The extent and nature of feedback received from EPA and DELWP will determine how long it will take to finalise the guidance documents, but it is hoped that the documents will be finalised by the end of October 2022.

Carbon Offsets project

Since the last update, Phase 2A of the Carbon Offsets project has continued to progress.  As a reminder, Phase 2A aims to confirm the benefits of a collective approach to procuring carbon offsets, the governance needs of the delivery model to achieve this, and that the water corporations’ collective carbon offset needs can be met at both the portfolio and project level.

The scope of works, in the form of a request for quotation, was finalised and sent out during early September 2022, with a draft of the Phase 2A report due by late-September/early-October 2022.  Following finalisation of the Phase 2A report, a Portfolio Workshop will be held in October 2022, and a Governance Work held in November 2022, in order to bring water corporation representatives up to speed with the project and its current direction.

In addition to this, water corporations have been asked to reconfirm their indicative Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) surrender volume that they each require to meet their mandated carbon reduction targets, along with any direct investment opportunities that may be suitable for inclusion in any industry-wide portfolio.

Guidance documents on meeting general environmental duty (GED)

In mid-September 2022, the finalised guidance documents on how water corporations can demonstrate compliance with the requirements of general environmental duty (GED) with respect to the reporting and management of sewer spills and contaminated land were provided to those water corporations who participated in this subscription project.

Whilst neither guidance document has been formally endorsed by EPA, the documents provide a considered industry position on meeting GED obligations with respect to the reporting and management of sewer spills and contaminated land.

The high-quality inputs of water industry representatives into the development and finalisation of these documents are appreciated.

Collaborative improvements to onsite wastewater management practices

In 2018, the Victorian Auditor-Generals Office reported on Onsite (domestic) Wastewater Management (OWM) practices in two of Melbourne's outer metropolitan councils.  Amongst various recommendations, it proposed three recommendations that related to the interactions between Councils and Water Corporations:

  • Improving knowledge of environmental health impacts
  • Monitoring and inspection programs
  • Information sharing and reporting.

To address these recommendations, DELWP is funding VicWater to run a project that will examine the associated issues, identify good practice examples that go towards addressing the recommendations, and then create guidance materials for future use.

A consultant has been engaged by VicWater to deliver the project, and the project is scheduled for completion by mid-December 2022.

The consultant is currently in the process of conducting a literature review and undertaking background interviews.  If any VicWater members would like to participate in these interviews, please get in touch.