In February 2014, the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection proposed that pumping stations be removed from the ERA 63 code of environmental compliance (which would then only apply to STPs) and instead be regulated via an outcomes-based Industry Code of Practice.

This came in response to industry and local government feedback suggesting that the requirements of ERA 63 were confusing, sometimes unattainable and did not take into account the needs of a wide range of communities of different size.

An Industry Code of Practice (CoP) is a guideline created by the industry itself, describing ‘best practice’ operations, maintenance and planning. Following a CoP can be used as a defence against a charge of causing environmental nuisance or harm or certain other offences (like releasing contaminants to waters). The CoP would be expected to reflect the outcomes targeted under the standard conditions, but it can be more flexible than a rigid list of requirements, allowing for risk-based management relevant to conditions of each scheme. Adhering to the Code would be voluntary, but operators who had an overflow and did not comply with the code would need to prove that they had complied with their GED to avoid enforcement action.

The ERA 63 Expert Panel is currently seeking broader industry input into a decision on making the change.

qldwater is forming a steering group under the existing ERA 63 Expert Panel to provide advice and review development of the new CoP working collaboratively with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. The steering group intends to ensure perspectives of different service providers will be reflected in the final document.

There will be a number of opportunities for industry members involved in the steering group to provide input to the new CoP as it is developed over the next six months. In addition, all members are able to provide nominations for the expert panel developing the Code.

qldwater invites those who wish to provide comments or nominate to be involved in the development process to contact [email protected].

Michelle Goldsmith

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