Healthy Waters Management Plans/Water Quality Improvement Plans
The Environmental Protection (Water and Wetland Biodiversity) Policy 2019 (EPP Water and Wetland Biodiversity), subordinate legislation under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, establishes Healthy Waters Management Plans (HWMPs) as a key planning mechanism to improve the quality of Queensland waters. HWMPs identify environmental values, water quality objectives and catchment-based management actions through consultation and best available science. HWMPs have been developed for all Queensland Murray–Darling Basin catchments. For these catchments, the HWMPs not only fulfil requirements under the EPP Water and Wetland Biodiversity, but also Australian Government water quality planning provisions under the Basin Plan 2012. In 2016, the Warrego, Paroo, Bulloo and Nebine Basins HWMP was approved, with the Condamine HWMP, Queensland Border Rivers–Moonie HWMP and Maranoa–Balonne HWMP approved in 2019. These plans identify the key risks to water quality across the Queensland Murray–Darling Basin and highlight potential management responses to address the risks.
HWMPs are broader than ‘just water quality’ as they protect aquatic ecosystems through specifying water quality objectives for indicators such as macroinvertebrates, fish, riparian vegetation and groundcover. These plans are typically delivered through collaborative partnerships between the Queensland Government and regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) bodies.
For Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchments, Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs) have been developed, which perform a similar function to HWMPs. WQIPs were initially prepared by regional NRM bodies under the Australian Government’s Coastal Catchments Initiative, in consultation with the Queensland Government. WQIPs undertaken in GBR catchments use the monitoring and evaluation tools generated by the Paddock to Reef Program. For example, GBR catchment water quality modelling and monitoring is used to prioritise areas for on-ground investment in management improvements and to predict water quality improvements from proposed management options.