Water Journal : Water Journal August 2011
governance technical features 72 AUGUST 2011 water Water Recycling Arrangements: The Regulatory Approach in Other States The following provides a summary of the key approvals required for water recycling projects in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. New South Wales In NSW, the main regulatory requirements that proposed water recycling schemes must satisfy are found in the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW), the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW), the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (NSW), the State Environmental Planning Policy (Major Development) 2005 (NSW), the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) and the Water Industry Competition Act 2006 (NSW). The proponent will need to apply for planning approval in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) if the local environment plan for the area, State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 or State Environmental Planning Policy (Major Development) 2005 specifies that consent be obtained to construct and operate the recycled water scheme. A planning application for a high-impact development (known as a 'designated development') will need to be accompanied by an environmental impact statement. A wastewater treatment plant that services more than 10,000 people, costs more than $30 million, or is in an environmentally sensitive area will be classified as a designated development requiring an EIS. Licences are required under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) in order to carry out certain listed activities. One such activity is sewage treatment that involves the discharge of wastes or by-products to land or waters, where the processing capacity exceeds 2,500 persons equivalent, or 750KL per day. Another is the carrying out of irrigated agriculture, which could include the use of recycled water for irrigation. These licences usually contain conditions relating to water discharge limits, sampling and monitoring. The Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) requires councils that wish to construct or extend water treatment works, or provide for any sewage from its area to be discharged, treated or supplied, to seek Ministerial approval. Private entities, on the other hand, must seek the approval of the relevant council before carrying out any water supply work, installing, constructing or altering a waste treatment device, or holding or processing sewage, among other things. The Water Industry Competition Act 2006 (NSW) imposes further approval requirements specific to recycled water schemes. The aims of this Act include encouraging competition in relation to water supply and facilitating the growth of the recycled water market. Under the Act, any person who wishes to provide, construct, maintain or operate any water industry infrastructure, or to supply water or provide a sewerage service by means of any water industry infrastructure, is required to obtain a licence under the Act (unless specifically exempted from the requirement for a licence). Licences can be granted to parties either as network operators or retail suppliers. Licences specify what activities are authorised; for example, the quantity of recycled water to be supplied and where it may be supplied. The regulations apply rules to ensure that recycled water is 'fit for purpose' and that services are safe, reliable and have minimum environmental impacts. South Australia In South Australia, participants in a water recycling scheme will need to observe the requirements in the Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA), Public and Environmental Health (Waste Control) Regulations 2010 (SA) and the Development Act 1993 (SA). EPA licences are required under the Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA) to carry out certain prescribed activities, including the conduct of sewage treatment works or septic tank effluent disposal schemes. A water recycling scheme may trigger this requirement. The EPA will also supervise the recycling of wastewater by condition of EPA licence required for the core activity that produces the wastewater, for example, wineries, food processing and chemical works. The Public and Environmental Health (Waste Control) Regulations 2010 (SA) also have some application. The Guidelines for the Carting of Recycled Water, published by the Department of Health, specifically clarify the approval requirements and application processes that apply to the cartage of recycled water under the Public and Environmental Health (Waste Control) Regulations 2010 (SA). The Reclaimed Water Guidelines 1999, also published by the Department of Health, are non-mandatory but provide further guidance in this area. They have been endorsed by the South Australian EPA and the Public and Environmental Health Council. Development approval under the Development Act 1993 (SA) will be required for the development of the project where the recycling activity constitutes a change of use of the subject land, or an intensification of an existing use.
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