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EPA’s programs to monitor the state’s freshwater environments include:

  • river health and environmental condition reports
  • environmental quality objectives
  • lakes program. 

We also work with other organisations that undertake environmental water quality assessment.

River health and environmental condition reports

Monitoring and assessing environmental conditions gives us essential feedback on the state of our river systems. This allows water resource managers to develop and refine programs so they can direct resources and activities where they are needed most.

The statewide biological monitoring program assessed invertebrate communities using a rapid bioassessment method, described in Risk-based assessment of ecosystem protection in ambient waters (publication 961).

Information from the biological monitoring program was used to provide assessments of the environmental condition of rivers and streams across Victoria:

Environmental quality objectives

Surface waters and their aquatic ecosystems should be free of any substance that will pose a risk to beneficial uses — the different uses and values of water, including drinking, industrial use and aquatic ecosystems, that a waterway or waterbody can support. The same must be true of any human impacts on these systems.

These impacts appear, for example, as ill effects on human health, increased fish kills and algal blooms, excessive growth of aquatic plants, sedimentation, loss of biodiversity and environmental flows, and litter and other harmful substances in water environments.

Victoria has environmental quality objectives for protecting rivers and streams in the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters of Victoria). The objectives acknowledge the wide variety of aquatic ecosystem types, which all function quite differently and are affected or threatened by different issues. They describe the level of environmental quality needed, in most surface waters, to avoid risks to beneficial uses and to protect them.

Failure to attain an objective triggers further investigation of the risks to beneficial uses. Actions are then implemented or regionally appropriate objectives developed. For more information, background papers on the objectives include:

Lakes program

Victoria has a wide variety of inland lakes, including billabongs, volcanic lakes, sand-dune lakes and reservoirs. Some have naturally high salinities and animal and plant communities that make them very different from lakes elsewhere in the world. Historically we have not had a good understanding of the ecology of our unique lake systems.

EPA's investigations into the condition of Victoria's lakes have developed a better understanding of how our lakes work and produced guidelines to help protect them. The guidelines, Environmental quality guidelines for Victorian lakes (publication 1302), were released in 2010.

Organisations that monitor Victoria’s freshwater environment

The Victorian Catchment Management Council, with EPA, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Melbourne Water, undertakes environmental water quality assessment in Victoria.

It ensures:

  • statewide consistency of monitoring methods
  • annual reporting that provides interpretation and management information at statewide and catchment management authority scale
  • provision of a statewide database of water quality information on the internet
  • avoidance of duplication between monitoring programs.

Read next

State Environment Protection Policy (Waters)

Yarra Watch

Beach Report

Monitoring Victoria's water quality

Marine monitoring

Water quality monitoring data and resources

Bar-ba-ka: the floating laboratory

About water and Victoria's water environments


This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 30 October 2018.

Reviewed 15 October 2021