Frequently Asked Questions – SHCWQIP
What is the driver for improving water quality? What is the ultimate objective?
Community values water quality and Sydney’s waterways, particularly the Harbour.
What questions do we want answered?
- How much pollution is entering the Harbour via the stormwater system?
- Are there areas of particular concern (hotspots) and if so, where are they?
- How is the pollution impacting on ecological processes?
- What the most effective means of reducing pollutant loads?
- What the most cost-effective means of reducing pollutant loads?
- What changes can we expect when we increase or decrease pollution?
- What changes if any can we expect if we do nothing to decrease pollution?
- What are sensible and realistic targets we can set to improve water quality?
What will outcomes councils get in the end?
- Evidence-based decision-making tool
- A process to assist with forecasting environmental implications LEPs
- A coordinated management framework for water quality improvements
- Access to variety of modelling tools
- Hydrologic model
- Hydrodynamic model
- Ecological response model
- Water Quality Decision Support System
- Training and technical support
- Project Coordination by the SMCMA
- Technical Reports
- SHCWQIP – includes targets for water quality
How will targets be set?
Targets will be developed in consultation with Councils using results of Hydrologic model, Hydrodynamic model, Ecological response model and Water Quality Decision Support System.
How will the targets be monitored to see if they are being met?
Water quality modelling through the use of Water Quality Monitoring Stations (Buoys), Beachwatch data and other water quality sampling programs
How does it fit with what councils are doing?
SHCWQIP has applications to the development of planning instruments (eg, LEPs, DCPs), actioning of management plans (eg. Section 94 Plans, Stormwater and Coastal Zone Management Plans) and reporting for other strategic documents (eg. Sustainability Plans, Community Plans) etc.
What do the targets mean?
The targets refer to stormwater pollutant concentrations and loads that Councils will agree to try to achieve. Generally, they will mean a reduction in the concentration and amount of pollution draining from their respective LGA’s through the stormwater system.
What is the point of councils being a partner when there are no more areas to develop?
Future infill areas eg houses with gardens become blocks of units with carparks/increasing numbers of residents, increasing impervious areas and as a result increasing stormwater runoff and increased pollutant loads.
The water quality next to your council area is a product of what other councils and agencies do as well as what your council does. Being a partner in this project means that your council can influence other councils and state agencies to improve the quality of stormwater runoff coming from their areas.
What pollutants are being modelled?
Total Suspended Solids (TSS)
Total Nitrogen (TN)
Total Phosphorous (TP)
Will pathogens be monitored?
If Sydney Water comes onboard as a financial partner:
- Faecal coliforms
Can pathogens be modelled?
Yes, if Sydney Water comes onboard as a financial partner.
We know “this area” is polluted – why do we need you to tell us what we already know?
We will be able to quantify pollutant levels and assist you to reduce these levels.
How is it different to Estuary Management Plans (EMPs)? How does it fit with EMPs?
The major differences between Estuary Management Plans (EMPs) and the SHCWQIP are:
- EMPs list a range of actions for estuarine management, that deal with everything from recreational activities to planning instruments to onground works whereas the SHCWQIP is a focussed plan that only lists actions for improved water quality.
- EMPs may include actions to address water quality but they are generally in terms of capturing gross pollutants or education programs whereas the SHCWQIP set specific targets for water quality concentrations.
- Unlike EMPs, the SHCWQIP provides Councils with access to a variety of tools and staff training to enable Council officers to apply these tools to specific management objectives so that Council can evaluate a range of different management options. These tools can be applied to strategic planning, such as LEPS, DCPs and also for assessing large and complex DAs.
- The tools developed within the SHCWQIP project will allow Councils to predict future scenarios as a result of management decisions.
- The SHCWQIP also provides Council with access to an Ecological Response Model (ERM), which enables officers and Councillors to understand how pollutants from their LGA are influencing the ecology of their estuary. It can then demonstrate how changes to land-use management cause changes to the ecology. For example, it can provide a reliable estimation of how the use of particular WSUD initiatives can improve water quality.
- Unlike EMPs the SHCWQIP will demonstrate how current activities and historical land-uses with the LGA influence neighbouring LGAs and Sydney Harbour. It thus demonstrates how a particular LGA fits into the bigger picture of waterway health and how each Council's management practices work synergistically with others.
- The SHCWQIP also provides a powerful Decision Support System for Council staff to interrogate a variety of different management options in terms of triple bottom-line evaluation and reporting. This has the added benefit of providing a transparent and defensible process for decision making.
- The SHCWQIP project will provide regular updates and data to Council for Sustainability Reporting, environmental newsletters, education and media releases. This information can be used to demonstrate to the community Council’s commitment to looking after the health of its own waterways and foreshores.
- In summary, the SHCWQIP provides more than simply a list of management actions for estuarine management, it also provides the tools and training for setting water quality targets, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluating management actions and, because of the economy of scales, it provides all this at a tiny fraction of what an individual Council would have to pay for similar tools, reports and services.
Water Quality Monitoring
Why are we monitoring water quality?
- We need to know the concentrations of pollutants in our waterways to understand and describe the current condition of the waterways
- We need to know the concentrations of pollutants in our waterways, before and after we attempt to change our management practices and/or land-use so that we can evaluate these changes
- We need to know the concentrations of pollutants in our waterways so that we can set realistic targets to be achieved by land managers
What water quality parameters are being measured? What about pathogens?
- Chlorophyll a (Chl a)
- Dissolved oxygen (DO)
Monitoring of key pathogens is being considered.
How does the water quality monitoring program relate at the local Council level?
- The details of the water quality monitoring program are still to be determined and will be determined in consultation with water quality experts and funding partners.
- We may engage someone to collect field samples from many locations around the Harbour and its tributaries. If this is the case then we could be able to negotiate the sites that are most beneficial to local Council.
- Were this to happen then the data collected is clearly very relevant at the local level.