Michelle Lensink

Adelaide Coastal Waters Study

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Environment and Conservation a question about the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: The Adelaide Coastal Waters Study identifies one of the main culprits in terms of damage to the marine environment as being nitrogen load. Indeed, Recommendation 2 says that the total load of nitrogen discharged into the marine environment should be reduced to around 600 tonnes, representing a 75 per cent reduction from the 2003 value of 2,400 tonnes. In giving evidence to the ERD Committee on 6 June 2007, I raised with the then CE and chair of the EPA, Dr Paul Vogel, the issue of trigger values for water quality under the ANZECC.

A comparison of trigger values from around Australian regions reveals that south-central Australia (South Australia) has much higher trigger values than many other regions in Australia, at 1,000 (whatever the units are) compared, for instance, to south-eastern Australia (which is Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania), involving 300 for estuary and 120 for marine. In tropical Australia it is 250 for estuary and 100 for marine. In that committee hearing I questioned why the EPA had such high levels, and Dr Vogel undertook to look at that. My questions are:

1. Is the minister aware whether those trigger values have been reviewed?

2. If not, when will they be reviewed?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Environment and Conservation, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister Assisting the Minister for Health) (14:21): I thank the honourable member for her question. I have spoken here before about the quality of the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study report that was recently released, and the very important 14 (if I recall correctly) recommendations that came from that study in relation to improving water quality in the gulf as well as in terms of strategies around improving our stormwater, waste water and industry discharge and the impact that is having on both particulate matter and nitrogen levels in those waters. I also spoke about the Water Quality Improvement Steering Committee that had been established to put together a comprehensive action plan to address all 14 of those recommendations.

I do not have any specific knowledge in relation to trigger values. I know that 20 scientific papers have been completed over the past six years, forming part of the report, but I am not sure whether any of those deal with the issue of trigger values per se. I do not recollect that they necessarily do, but I will check that. I am not aware of trigger values being a particular issue of concern for the state of South Australia, but I am happy to look into that and provide a detailed answer to the questions the honourable member has asked.

Thursday 11 September 2008

In reply to the Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (5 March 2008).

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy): The Minister for Environment and Conservation is advised:

The EPA is currently reviewing the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2003, with an expected completion date for any subsequent changes to the policy of June 2009. As part of this review, the water quality triggers are being considered.

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