Standards, compliance and planning

Water corporation responsibilities during a severe weather event


Severe weather events pose serious risks to public health and environment. The community has an expectation that water corporations work with government to ensure harm is minimised and the best possible outcomes are achieved.

EPA expects water organisations to take all practical measures required to prepare, manage and mitigate risks during a weather event. Please read through your responsibilities below.

Please report incidents to us via EPA Interaction Portal or our call centre.

1. Preparedness Summary

EPA expects  water corporations to have  undertaken extensive preparatory work identifying  the possible risks of a serious weather event. This preparedness would cover potential consequences and mitigation measures which ensure possible impacts are minimised.

You should be able to provide a summary of the following items if requested prior, or during, a weather event.

Nature of risk

Summary of your high to medium risk locations for both treatment plants and reticulation systems, including any predicted capacity exceedances of reticulation and storage lagoons, and predicted treatment quality exceedances which will contravene license conditions.

Magnitude of the potential consequence

Estimated potential consequences of your high to medium risk locations, which may include potential impact on public health and environment including receiving waters, and impact to private/public land.

Mitigation measures

For the identified medium to high risks, with medium to high consequences, water corporations need to clarify what mitigation measures will be initiated to minimise harm. For example, identify temporary containment measures, and plans for mobilisation of staff and equipment to high risk locations if required to manage impacts.

Communications plan

EPA has an expectation that potentially impacted stakeholders be adequately notified of the potential risks, including the placement of signage and media alerts when risks have been realised. If required, you will need to include a summary of your communications plan.

2. Incident Notification Expectations

During severe weather events, water corporations are expected to notify us when there has been a discharge of effluent or wastewater to the environment with the potential for material impact to human health, environment and community. This includes discharges to farmland. If in doubt – report.

Details of notifications must include

  • Estimate of incident start time
  • Status of incident, and if it is still occurring
  • Rate and quality of discharge
  • Predicted duration of discharge
  • Predicted consequence of discharge
  • Mitigation measures, either planned or undertaken
  • Monitoring program to measure impact of discharge
  • Clean up measures planned or undertaken

3. Incident Management Expectations

For locations with moderate to high consequences, all practical measures must be taken to, mitigate and monitor impacts and initiate clean up where safe and practical to do so.

Clear, transparent and contemporary communications need to be maintained with potentially affected community. This includes the installation of public signage and community media broadcasts.

4. Incident Recovery Expectations

EPA understands that many consequences of severe weather events are unavoidable, however there are many factors which we can influence to minimise the consequences.

For locations with moderate to high consequences EPA expects a recovery report to be submitted within 30 days of the event which will detail:

  • Nature of incident
  • Magnitude of consequence
  • Mitigation measures implemented to minimise impact
  • Incident response actions implemented, including details of any clean up and environmental monitoring
  • Measures taken to notify potentially impacted stakeholders
  • Lessons learnt

Page last updated on 1 Dec 2017