Protecting the Beneficial Uses of Water

This initiative is implementing action 3.2 in Chapter 3 of Water for Victoria by improving planning arrangements for waterways through a new State Environment Protection Policy (Waters).

EC4 Expenditure to date

Water for Victoria: Protect the beneficial uses of water - $740,000 $886,000 $324,000

*This initiative also received funding from the EC4 Water information for sustainable water management initiative in 2016-17.


Under this initiative, DELWP in collaboration with the Environment Protection Authority completed the finalisation/gazettal of SEPP (Waters), a Policy Impact Assessment (PIA), an Implementation Plan, a Summary of Comment and Response Report and the SEPP (Waters) Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER) framework.

The new SEPP (Waters) was gazetted in October 2018 and ensures that Victoria has a policy for the protection and management of surface water and groundwater in Victoria. This is achieved by establishing the uses and environmental values to be protected, defining the level of environmental quality required for their protection, and setting rules and obligations to ensure management actions are taken to protect water quality.

The SEPP (Waters):

  • better reflects current policies, including Water for Victoria, the Victorian Waterway Management Strategy, and the Murray-Darling Basin Plan
  • delivers greater clarity and certainty on who does what to protect the environment
  • is streamlined, merging two existing SEPPS for water
  • reflects community values
  • applies the best available science; (see EPA publication 1733 Development of indicators and objectives for SEPP (Waters))
  • addresses current and emerging water quality issues

The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 will provide a new framework for the protection of human health and the environment from pollution and waste. This comes into effect 1 July 2021. From July 2021 SEPPs will no longer be a stand-alone instrument in the new environment protection framework. However environmental reference standards (SEPP objectives) will remain a core element of this framework and EPA will transition other elements of the SEPP into the new environment protection framework as required. This includes the saved clauses in the Environment Protection Transitional Regulations.

Page last updated: 27/11/20