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Joint Media Statement
Warren Truss
Federal Minister for
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Senator Robert Hill
Federal Minister for the
Environment and Heritage

12 July, 2001


New national guidelines released today by Agriculture Minister Warren Truss and Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill will help reduce the impact of urban stormwater and effluent on Australia's inland and coastal waters and also encourage their re-use.

The documents, which have been produced as part of the National Water Quality Management Strategy, are the Australian Guidelines for Urban Stormwater Management and Guidelines for Sewerage Systems - Use of Reclaimed Water.

The Ministers said the guidelines have been developed jointly by the Federal, State and Territory governments, through the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ) (chaired by Mr Truss) and the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) (chaired by Senator Hill). The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has overseen the health-related aspects.

"The guidelines include detailed information on the microbiological and chemical qualities of reclaimed water, safeguards and controls, the various applications, how best to manage run-off, as well as vegetation and infrastructure requirements," they said.

"The Guidelines should become important for management for a wide range of agricultural, industrial, municipal and domestic water users."

Senator Hill, said that almost three-quarters of our urban effluent ends up in coastal waters.

"And if we don't do something now, the volume of urban effluent entering our waterways - and ultimately the ocean - may increase by up to 50 per cent over the next 20 years," he said.

"But there's more to it than just reducing the amount of waste water we discharge; treated effluent and stormwater should also be regarded as a valuable resource, and one that can provide real economic and environmental benefits.

"In Adelaide for example, the Salisbury Council has begun capturing 30 per cent of the stormwater from the city's northern suburbs for use by local industry. This reduces the nutrient, and other pollution from stormwater entering the Barker Inlet, by 90 per cent.

"It also reduces the volume of water being taken from the Murray River by around 1,000 million litres each year."

The Ministers said the Coalition Government is providing $1.3 million from its $6.8 million Urban Stormwater Initiative for the project.

Mr Truss, said that new technologies and management techniques were broadening the scope for using effluent and stormwater in agricultural production.

"Water from the Bolivar Waste Water Treatment Plant in South Australia, for example, is being used to irrigate market gardens north east of Adelaide.

"I am also particularly impressed with a scheme privately funded by viticulturists in the Mclaren Vale that pipes re-claimed water from Christies Beach to grapevines in the Wilunga basin.

"The scheme clearly demonstrates the economic and commercial benefits of using re-claimed water, and is helping secure the long-term future of a successful and growing industry whose expansion was previously limited by the availability of a secure water supply.

''Australia is the world's the driest inhabited continent, and our water supplies are sometimes over committed - we simply can't afford to waste any of it."

The Ministers said that many cities overseas provide up to 30 per cent of their total water needs from reclaimed water.

"In Australia, reclaimed water can also be used for irrigating food crops, golf courses, racetracks, sporting ovals, turf farms, plant nurseries and cooling towers," they said.

The guidelines are available by calling the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia Shopfront on 1800 020 157, the Australian Water Association bookshop on (02) 9413 1288 or Commonwealth Government bookshops in each State and Territory.

Further inquiries:
Warren Truss's office Yvonne Best (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 415 772
Senator Hill's office Belinda Huppatz (08) 8237 7920 or 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia