Compliance and Enforcement
As a statutory authority the EPA has the legislative powers to investigate and take strong and appropriate regulatory action against licensees when there is a compliance breach. Any action taken by the EPA aims to ensure that environmental impacts are minimised, contained or repaired, and the sanctions applied reflects the seriousness of the incident and provide deterrence. To promote voluntary compliance among licensees, the EPA provides information through channels such as education programs, informal and formal advice and audits. For more detail see the EPA Compliance Policy and the EPA Prosecution Guidelines.
For examples of recent regulatory action taken by the EPA in relation to protection of waterways and water pollution incidents see the EPA media page.
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) was amended in May 2006 to strengthen the consideration of water quality impacts when regulating activities that cause, have caused or are likely to cause water pollution.
Section 96(3A) of the POEO Act provides that:
'The appropriate regulatory authority, when determining the action to be specified in a [prevention] notice relating to an activity that causes, is likely to cause or has caused water pollution, must consider:
- the environmental values of water affected by the activity, and
- the practical measures that could be taken to restore or maintain those environmental values, and
- if the appropriate regulatory authority is not the EPA-any guidelines issued by the EPA to the authority relating to the exercise of functions under this section.'
The EPA issued the guidelines 'Considering environmental values of water when issuing prevention notices' (PDF 634KB) to 'Appropriate Regulatory Authorities' for the purposes of section 96(3A)(c) of the POEO Act.
Page last updated: 21 May 2015