Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Hunter River meets salinity goal for 2014-15

Media release: 22 December 2015

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has today released its report into the performance of the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme (HRSTS) for 2014/2015. The report showed that the Hunter River’s salinity goals were met by the Scheme for each of the discharge periods in this period.

EPA Hunter Manager Adam Gilligan said the HRSTS industry participants had three opportunities to discharge salty water into the river in 2014-15.

“Salinity levels in the river did not exceed the threshold set by the HRSTS in the three discharge periods,” Mr Gilligan said.

“These results show that the Scheme is working, and is having a positive impact on water quality in the Hunter River, which is vital to the success of agriculture and industry in the region, while protecting the environmental values of the river.”

Established in 2002, HRSTS is a world leading example of how economics can be used to protect local environments.

“The Scheme is a market-based instrument which works to maintain a healthy ecosystem and balance the needs of Hunter River irrigators while supporting surrounding industries to operate effectively.”

“Before the Scheme was introduced, there was tension between primary producers and industry, as discharges from industry significantly increased salinity levels in the water making it unsuitable for irrigation.”

The HRSTS, which is overseen by the EPA with advice from the Scheme’s Operations Committee, involves a system of salt credits which industry can buy and trade.

“The credits allow industry to discharge their by-product salty water when the river has adequate fresh water flows to dilute the salt and maintain water quality for downstream users.

“Importantly, industry is only permitted to discharge into the river at times of high flow to ensure that any discharge is quickly diluted and to minimise impact on the waterway.”

The 2014/2015 report and more information on the HRSTS is available at

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 22 December 2015