EPA uses a risk-based approach to identify where there may be adverse impacts on water bodies. If a risk to the water environment is identified, action should be taken to address that risk.
This approach is increasingly being adopted by environmental agencies and research bodies. It includes ecosystem variability and complexity in the evaluation of adverse ecological effects. For example, this approach has been adopted in the Australian and New Zealand guidelines for fresh and marine water quality.
The Government of Victoria has endorsed the new Australian water quality guidelines, and EPA used this risk-based approach as the basis for the environmental quality objectives in the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria).
These objectives set the level of environmental quality required to protect aquatic ecosystems. If the objectives are not met, it signals a potential risk to the ecosystem, which is then investigated using the risk-based approach.
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