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Good environmental management is consistent with good business management. Consistent with the waste hierarchy, both aim to maximise the efficiency of raw material usage while minimising the consumption of energy, water and other inputs.
Sound environmental management helps to achieve triple bottom line (environmental/social/economic) benefits.
Controlling wastewater discharges
Industrial and commercial operations that can discharge significant amounts of wastewater to the environment are controlled by EPA’s works approval and licensing system. The system ensures that EPA reviews proposed works before they are constructed and that, when they are brought into service, their discharges are controlled by licence conditions.
EPA uses works approvals and licences to ensure industry minimises waste generation and only discharges treated wastes after all waste avoidance and minimisation options have been implemented.
Recycling wastewater can ease the pressure on our water resources and avoid the need to discharge wastewater to the environment. Recycled water can provide a defined quantity and quality of water that, with some management controls, is suitable for a wide range of uses, including irrigation and toilet flushing.
With increasing legislative and community expectations for sustainable development, there is increased interest in treating and recycling sewage. For more information on safe and sustainable wastewater recycling, see the following guidelines:
- Victorian guideline for water recycling (publication 1910)
- Technical information for the Victorian guideline for water recycling (publication 1911)
- Guide for the completion of a recycled water quality management plan for class A water recycling schemes (PDF 135KB, Department of Health)
- Australian guidelines for water recycling: managing health and environmental risks (phase 1) (PDF 2.17MB, Commonwealth Government’s Environment Protection and Heritage Council)
- National Water Quality Management Systems (WQMS) Auditor Certification Scheme (PDF 136KB, Department of Health)
A by-product of the sewage treatment process, biosolids (appropriately treated sewage sludge) can make an important contribution to sustainable environmental management. They can be used to return organic material, trace elements, moisture and nutrients to our soils — thereby completing the natural nutrient cycle.
Where appropriate, land application is the preferred reuse option. However, where this is not appropriate, biosolids can be used as a substitute for raw materials as geotechnical fill.
Biosolids can also be used for alternative purposes (for example, energy recovery); however, such schemes need to go through the works approval and licensing process.
For more information on biosolids see the Australian and New Zealand Biosolids Partnership website.
- Guidelines for environmental management – biosolids land application (publication 943)
- Use of biosolids as geotechnical fill (publication 1288)
- Code of practice for small wastewater treatment plants (publication 500)
- Environmental guidelines for the dairy processing industry (publication 570)
- Reducing risk in the premixed concrete industry (publication 1806)
- Guidelines for dredging (publication 691)
- Guidelines for environmental management – disinfection of treated wastewater (publication 730)
- Guidelines for risk assessment of wastewater discharges to waterways (publication 1287)
- More information about Class A recycled water
This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 19 December 2019.
Reviewed 22 March 2021