Guidelines for the management of water in mines and quarries

1. Background

These guidelines provides basic information for operators on how to manage discharges of wastewater from a mine site to ensure compliance with Victorian legislation. It includes protection of ground and surface water quality for downstream users.

These guidelines are advisory only and is not intended to prescribe exact requirements and practices. They are intended to assist with project specific environmental planning. Note that the information contained within these guidelines also apply to wastewater discharges from quarry operations.

2. Purpose of the guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide direction for management of Victorian water resources by the mining and extractive industries.

The guidelines list the relevant Victorian legislation that may be associated with a mine water use program. It does not attempt to describe particular designs, methodology or implementation of water management systems. Information of this type is provided by a variety of other publications, some of which are mentioned in the references at the end.

A distinction in terminology is required. For situations of reclamation, reuse or recycling on site (no offsite discharge) the discussion term is water. In any case of offsite discharge, storage or other process, wastewater is the term used.

Mine water management proposals should be based on the principles of waste minimisation, applied through the waste hierarchy listed below.

This means that the proposal should, in order of priority, promote wastewater:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Reduction
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycling
  5. Recovery of energy
  6. Treatment
  7. Containment
  8. Disposal

Water conservation is part of any sound resource management practice. Whenever possible, a mine or quarry should attempt to close the loop of water use so that a discharge is not required. If a discharge is required, the quality must comply with the applicable Acts and Regulations.

Careful planning and development of an appropriate water management strategy benefits the proponent for a successful mining or quarry project.

Discharge from a mine or quarry must be managed in an effective and responsible manner, resulting in minimal impact on the environment and other beneficial uses.

Proponents are encouraged to discuss their mine water management proposals at an early stage with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Earth Resources Regulation.

3. Legislation and policy directions

A range of Victorian legislation applies either directly or indirectly to the management of water at a mine site or quarry.

3.1 Mineral Resources Development Act 1990 and Extractive Industries Development Act 1995

The Mineral Resources Development Act 1990 (MRD Act) encourages an economically viable mining industry to operate in a way that supports environmental, social and economic objectives of the State. These objectives include encouraging and facilitating exploration for minerals while establishing a legal framework that ensures mineral resources are developed using methods and management practices that minimise impacts on the environment.

The Extractive Industries Development Act 1995 (EID Act) requires the extractive industry to meet safe operating standards and ensures rehabilitation of quarried land to an appropriate, stable landform.

Included in these Acts are requirements for industry operators to prepare and seek approval for a work plan. As the main guidance document, the work plan will describe the management of onsite water use and its context through operation, progressive rehabilitation and closure.

The work plan also outlines monitoring and auditing requirements for each site that will contribute to the water management strategy.

Once approved, the work plan imposes conditions on the activities undertaken in relation to water. The work plan may also include offsite disposal of wastewater with the relevant EPA approvals and licences in place.

A number of additional guidelines providing information about work plans and onsite tailings storage management for mining and extractive industries can found in the Guidelines and codes of practice section.

3.2 Environment Protection Act 1970

The Environment Protection Act 1970 (EP Act) is administered by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and covers all aspects of the environment making provision for the establishment of environmental objectives as well as control and licensing of waste discharges.

The EP Act also requires both application of the waste hierarchy and continuous improvement as part of all regulated premises' environmental management processes.

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The EP Act also provides for the preparation of State Environment Protection Policies (SEPP) which set quality objectives for a number of segments of the environment.

A SEPP is established under the EP Act to protect the beneficial uses for each segment of the environment i.e. air, water, noise, etc.

The policies are statutory instruments and their provisions apply to government departments, agencies, private companies and all Victorians.

The SEPP provides the platform for sound management of the environmental segment to which it applies.

As stated in each of the policies, a SEPP may include:

  • the boundaries of any area affected
  • identification of the beneficial uses to be protected
  • selection of the environmental indicators to be employed to measure and define the environmental quality
  • a statement of the environmental quality objectives (where practicable), and
  • the program if any by which the stated environmental quality objectives are to be attained and maintained including, where appropriate, the specification of —
    • maximum quantities and qualities of waste permitted to be discharged to the environment
    • maximum levels of noise permitted to be emitted to the environment
    • minimum standards for the installation and operation of works or equipment for the control of waste or noise from specified sources or classes of premises, and
    • measures designed to minimise the possibility of the occurrence of pollution.

The SEPP WoV applies to all surface waters in Victoria. The policy guides management of the segment by establishing the basis for maintaining environmental quality sufficient to protect existing and anticipated future beneficial uses in the area affected.

The information includes terms sufficiently clear to give an adequate direction for planning and licensing functions.

SEPP WoV schedules and tables provide further guidance regarding the assessment provided for discharge quality requirements.

Schedules and tables are derived from The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality 2000 (ANZECC 2000) and describe appropriate goals for water quality.

These guidelines adopt a new approach that allows for water quality objectives to be derived, assessed and tailored for specific locations, thereby addressing specific management goals and problems.

This approach increases the flexibility with which agencies can view cumulative sources of environmental quality change and how to best manage these.

If the guideline values are exceeded at a site, ANZECC 2000 recommends processes for mitigation and management of the issue. It should be noted that licensed discharges may be required to achieve significantly better performance than the schedules and tables suggest.

EPA will consider the receiving environment and available treatment technologies as well as SEPP objectives.

The SEPP Groundwaters of Victoria is designed to protect Victoria's groundwater from contamination and where necessary, improve groundwater quality sufficient to protect existing and potential beneficial uses.

The groundwater environment has been divided into segments categorised by the concentration of total dissolved solids (TDS). Similar to SEPP WoV, a number of segments and their associated protected beneficial uses are listed in the policy (see Table 1).

Consistently, ANZECC 2000 is used as guidelines or goals for water quality related to the beneficial uses in each segment. Segment B uses the Australian Food Standards Code (1987) for potable mineral water and the 1992 Guidelines for irrigation, while water quality for segment A1 uses the relevant SEPP WoV segment for surface waters.

Table 1 SEPP groundwaters of Victoria protected beneficial uses of the segments

Beneficial use A1
0 – 500 mg/L
501 – 1,000 mg/L
1,001 – 3,500 mg/L
3,501 – 13,000 mg/L
greater than 13,000 mg/L
Maintenance of ecosystems
Desirable potable water     
Acceptable potable water     
Potable mineral water   
Agriculture parks and gardens   
Stock watering  
Industrial water use
Primary contact recreation (bathing and swimming)  
Building and structures

(Source: SEPP Groundwaters of Victoria 1997)

Further discussed in section 3.4, Water Authorities are responsible for determining approvals for licences to construct bores for water extraction and disposal.

If an approval is issued, the relevant water authority would usually specify compliance with the relevant SEPP along with other conditions.

If the proponent is considering injection of mine water into an aquifer, the EPA will decide which segment applies to that particular mine location and the waste discharge licence conditions will be framed accordingly.

A groundwater licence may also be required under the Water Act 1989 for construction of a bore.

Subsequent to appropriate analysis of alternatives and application of the waste hierarchy, a discharge of wastewater may still be proposed.

The discharge will require a works approval and waste discharge licence under the EP Act and Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises and Exemptions) Regulations 1996.

A works approval is obtained through a process that includes:

  1. Application (a full and complete description of the proposal and alternatives considered)
  2. Acceptance (of application and commencement of statutory assessment period)
  3. Advertising (of the proposal to receive neighbour, referral agency and other third party submissions)
  4. Assessment (EPA officers review the proposal in light of legislation, policies, cumulative impacts and other requirements)
  5. Approval or rejection (as decided by the authority after considering assessment recommendations).

Only after this process is complete and a works approval has been issued can the construction and commissioning of a wastewater discharge facility be undertaken.

Subsequent to confirmation that construction has been completed in accordance with the works approval, commissioning may commence under notice, while licence negotiation and development proceed.

The discharge characteristics will be identified by the EPA at that time. This will include conditions related to:

  • Treatment required
  • Contaminant load
  • Discharge volume allowed
  • Release rate
  • Discharge location
  • Technology/equipment to be used
  • Size of any mixing zone approved
  • Requirement to develop plan for reducing and eventually eliminating the mixing zone
  • Any other aspect the EPA considers relevant.

Any alterations to a site with an existing EPA licence, or a change in the way wastewater is treated or stored will require a further works approvals.

Through this process EPA can assist the operator to manage wastes and the environment appropriately. Once obtained, a licence may be amended to account for adjustments to treatment performance, site conditions and to reflect policy updates over time.

Some amendments may save the licensee money because licence fees are based on a schedule of contaminant loading to the environment. As with other regulatory processes, early consultation with EPA will benefit the proponent for a successful outcome.

Described in section 6 of this guideline, disposal of wastewater to land within a mine or quarry boundary in accordance with an approval under the MRD Act or EID Act does not require a works approval or a licence under the EP Act.

This situation applies when wastewater is discharged to an onsite tailings dam, evaporation pond or some other system that ensures no offsite discharge throughout the life of the operation and closure of the site.

In June 2002 the Government introduced an integrated package of reforms to strengthen Victoria's waste management regime through the Environment Protection (Resource Efficiency) Act 2002.

This package strengthens Victoria's waste management regime by promoting greater resource use efficiency through additions to the Environment Protection Act 1970.

All Victorian industries are required to adopt the waste management hierarchy (described in section 2). In dealing with mine or quarry water the proponent should apply the hierarchy wherever possible rather than treatment or disposal of wastewater.

Specifically, the policies may require commonly or best available waste minimisation and/or treatment technology to be used for waste streams containing defined priority wastes.

3.3 Catchment and Land Protection Act, 1994 (CaLP Act)

The CaLP Act is administered by the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) through Catchment Management Authorities (CMA). CMA are established under the CaLP Act and designed to maximise community involvement in decision making within the integrated catchment management (ICM) structure.

This structure underpins sustainable management of land and water resources and contributes to biodiversity management. The main priorities of CMAs include salinity, weeds, environmental flows, nutrient inflows to streams and declining biodiversity.

CMA comprises a board, implementation committees and support staff. The CMA is responsible for the development and coordination of approved regional catchment management strategies.

These strategies also rely on community involvement in the development of detailed work programs within the catchment. These programs and associated quality outcomes will be taken into consideration by all other agencies during licensing, permitting and other decision making processes.

The CaLP Act applies to the management and protection of water catchments throughout Victoria. Schedule 5 of the CaLP Act lists 124 proclaimed special water supply catchment areas covering a total area of 52,262 km2.

Any water or wastewater disposal schemes in these special areas would also be subject to scrutiny by Catchment and Agriculture Services and Land Victoria Division of DELWP to ensure that the values of the water supply catchment are not compromised.

3.4 Water Act 1989

This Act is administered by DELWP and regional water authorities. The Act applies to all surface water in Victoria, including river management, water supply, irrigation and sewerage. Among other things, the Act encompasses:

  • environmental flows
  • rights to water
  • allocation of water entitlements
  • issuing of licences
  • control of construction of works on waterways
  • protection of groundwater
  • underground (groundwater) disposal
  • waterway management.

As listed in Schedule 12 of the Act, authorities empowered to carry out any function under the Act include:

  1. regional water authorities
  2. water boards
  3. city and shire councils
  4. catchment management authorities.

Please take note that for any construction on a waterway, including works to deviate a waterway, whether temporary or permanent, a licence is required.

A licence for construction on a waterway is unlikely to be issued if the dam is to be used for storage of process or recycled water. A water authority may reject a proposal where it is considered that the risks are too high or unlikely to be manageable.

The knowledge base surrounding environmental flow regimes for particular rivers and seasons is growing rapidly. Any proposed change to environmental flows related to water or groundwater extraction and discharge will be considered in the context of Impact on the flow regime.

The Water Act 1989 also applies to situations where "water" is the primary objective of a drilling program such as a series of aquifer reinjection bores or dewatering bores.

A licence under this Act is required for such bores. This Act applies to the drilling and construction of bores and the licensing of drillers for water drilling.

Drilling to explore for mineral resources is authorised under the Minerals Resources Development Act 1990 and drillers carrying out mineral exploration drilling do not require licences under the Water Act 1989.

The approval and regulation of tailings storage facilities is outlined on the Environmental guidelines for the management of small tailings storage facilities page.

3.4.1 Water Act (Irrigation Farm Dams) Act 2002

This amendment to the Water Act 1989 requires licensing of all irrigation and commercial use from waterways, springs, soaks and dams. Under these amendments, some previously unlicensed water use for quarries and mines now needs to be licensed.

Operators of quarries and mines are subject to the Act in a similar way to any other commercial users of water.

For example, a licence is required for:

  1. the construction of new works on waterways
  2. a new private dam constructed off waterways within the criteria specified in the Act
  3. wherever water is taken from a waterway and stored in the quarry or mine
  4. The intersection of water as defined under the Act also constitutes groundwater extraction for the purposes of dewatering.
    1. For example, a licence must already be in place during mining or quarrying activities when it is anticipated or possible that groundwater will be intersected.

If in doubt about the need for a licence, it is essential to contact your local water authority for advice.

Some mine and quarry dams would not need a take and use licence. These are:

  1. tailings or slime dams
  2. settling ponds
  3. process dams (in which recycled water from processing is used)
  4. dams created after the cessation and closure of mining or quarrying activities.

For further information, proponents should obtain a copy of Water Act 1989 Guidelines for Quarries and Mines 2004 prepared by DELWP Water Resource Policy Division.

4. Salinity

Salinity is one of the most serious and widely recognised forms of land degradation in Victoria. As of August 2000, DELWP estimated the area affected by salinity to include 140,000ha of irrigated land and 120,000ha of dryland.

As a result, salinity management plans have been developed through consultation between the Government and the community. Any saline water discharges to land or waterways will come under the control of such plans.

If a proponent is planning a mine wastewater disposal scheme in Northern Victoria then additional consultation with the Salinity Management Plan Coordinators from the regional office of DELWP or the local Catchment Management Authority will be necessary to determine whether a salinity management plan is affected.

Salinity is a key issue for mining and extractive industries. SEPP WoV requires that the discharge of saline wastewater, including discharges from groundwater pumping and irrigation drains, should not pose an environmental risk to beneficial uses.

To enable this, all discharge proponents must implement the waste hierarchy to maximise the avoidance, reuse and recycling of saline wastewater before discharging it to surface waters. Where discharge of saline wastewater cannot be practically avoided, reused or recycled, the impact on surface waters needs to be minimised by discharging to artificial drains, evaporation basins or through treatment.

This will reduce risks posed to beneficial uses of the environment.

Any discharge of saline water must also be in accordance with Government approved salinity plans and strategies and the Murray Darling Basin Agreement. Additionally, EPA will not normally approve a saline discharge without a biological assessment of the receiving waters.

Research indicates that aquatic organisms are only able to live in a fairly narrow range of salinities and any significant change in salinity can lead to modification of the species composition of the ecosystem.

As discussed in section 3, the EPA will assess the specific environment, the hydrological regime and the water quality and set discharge limits accordingly.

Limits set for the licence may take into account factors such as the beneficial uses, contaminant loads and background concentrations. Further, EPA may consider allowing a proponent to have a mixing zone where no practical alternative (including application of waste hierarchy) exists.

However, where a mixing zone is allowed, a proponent will be required to develop a plan for continuous improvement aimed at reducing the size of the mixing zone to eventual elimination. Any proposed mixing zone must be discussed as part of the wider community consultation process.

For example, if a mine or quarry dewatering proposal includes discharge of process wastewater upstream of the potable water supply for a community, the existing water quality cannot be changed to any category lower than potable, such as agricultural supply quality.

In this case, reuse, reprocessing or treatment of the waste prior to discharge would be required.

5. Water management strategy components

The proponent needs to ensure that the proposed water management strategy for the mine meets the mining and processing requirements of the project while minimising the environmental impacts of any water management or disposal activities.

Before preparing a water management strategy the proponent should carry out a baseline study of the characteristics of local surface and groundwater and the nature of their beneficial uses.

The scope and content of the baseline study will depend on the proposed management approach and the nature of the effected streams or aquifers. In preparing the proposal, early contact with the MPR, local CMA, EPA and water authority will benefit the proponent's desktop data collection because each agency will have some information relevant to the proposal.

Each proposal must include all potential impacts and control measures or management practices within the strategy. Proponents must adopt the principles of Waste Minimisation in designing water management proposals.

This means that design should incorporate mechanisms for minimal water use, maximum reuse and recycling or onsite disposal such as the evaporation ponds. Ideally, the water management plan goal should be to design a water balance model that achieves a nil discharge of mine wastewater and a reducing use of potable and other supplies.

The following components need to be incorporated into any feasibility study on mine wastewater disposal:

  • developed understanding of the receiving water quality
  • clear identification of the nature of the downstream water uses
  • minimise discharges by maximising use at the mine site, both surface and underground
  • waste segregation through separation of clean site water and contaminated wastewater
  • location of discharge points to minimise environmental impacts
  • monitoring the disposal wastewater volume and quality for compliance with regulations
  • monitoring the receiving water quality for compliance with statutory requirements.

Mine wastewater may have a number of contaminants. The discharge of low quality mine wastewater to surface waters will have undesirable consequences such as detrimentally affecting human health, the aquatic ecosystem and agricultural interests.

Water quality is measured in terms of physical and chemical parameters such as:

  • temperature
  • salinity
  • pH
  • toxicants (heavy metals, oil and grease, Organochlorines and phosphates, etc.)
  • suspended solids (turbidity)
  • dissolved oxygen.

In addition to the quality of insitu biological markers like species richness, species diversity and chlorophyll the presence of particular invertebrates is a useful indicator of the health for an aquatic ecosystem.

Instream biological monitoring of water quality has had an increasing role in evaluation of the ecological health of water bodies.

When considering groundwater use, consideration must be given to adverse effects on the water table caused by:

  • onsite groundwater extraction (dewatering) with consequent drawdown, or
  • mounding through excessive recharge of mine water to an aquifer.

A discharge proposal will be based on the demonstrated application of waste minimisation principles and the capacity to comply with quality parameters outlined by the licensing authority.

This means that the proponent will have to design the most appropriate disposal system for the particular operation and environmental circumstances.

6. Methods of disposal

A mine wastewater disposal feasibility study should also inform the decision regarding which method of disposal is most appropriate for a particular site. Water management may change over time depending on the amount of inflow to the mine, the level of use, evaporation from process dams and unpredictable weather conditions.

These variables must be incorporated into the strategy, particularly related to the choice of disposal method.

Possible methods are discussed below (the methods discussed are "illustrative" only and do not represent a comprehensive list of alternatives). A table showing the approval agency and issues to consider is included in Appendix 1.

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For sites where disposal volume is limited, the proponent may consider a mix of storage and reuse of the wastewater around the mine and plant. This storage may be in the form of dedicated dams or tanks.

A thorough water balance study will inform decisions related to capacity and use requirements so that appropriately sized storage can be installed.

The limitations of this method are surface area requirements, the capital cost in building dedicated dams or tanks and the necessary infrastructure to move the wastewater around the site.

If it is proposed to construct any works on a waterway, a licence will be required under section 67 of the Water Act 1989, from the water management authority.

However, the work plan for the site under the MRD or EID Act would be the main statutory approval in this case, informed by MTSF 2004.

Approval may also be required from the local shire authority. Approval would not be granted for construction of a wastewater reuse facility on a waterway.

Evaporation is a feasible disposal method in many parts of Victoria. Much of the north and west of the State experiences an annual excess of evaporation over rainfall of 750 to 1000mm.

Importantly, the proponent needs a large surface area for ponds. Additionally, there may be a need to consider additional balancing storages for periods of excess winter precipitation.

It is MPR and DELWP policy that proposals include complete containment of water, designed to ensure that there is sufficient capacity for rainfall throughout a 1 in 10 wet year and a minimum 1m freeboard for the ponds.

Please see the MTSF 2004 for guidance in this matter.

An important risk related to evaporation ponds is seepage. The nature and character of the pond lining and its design will have an impact on the level of risk to be managed.

In some cases proponents may be required to line ponds with a plastic liner because storage of highly saline water may lead to changes in the compaction density of the pond's clay liner.

Drilling and monitoring bores around the perimeter of the evaporation pond will be required to observe any change in the TDS or level of the groundwater. The next step is to assess if that change is attributable to leakage from the pond.

In this case, the Work Plan will be the main statutory approval document.

Both spray and drip methods of irrigation may be applied to a number of different situations to achieve disposal and evaporation. Irrigation to land, on trees, pasture, crops or spray irrigation over existing dams to assist in evaporation represent just a few of the options available.

Where irrigation to vegetation is proposed, the salinity of the water must be taken into consideration with respect to salt tolerance of the particular plant species and buildup in the soil.

Risks to be minimised include:

  • scaling of equipment which leads to blockages in the spray heads
  • the development of sufficiently fine spray heads to atomise the wastewater
  • the quality of the spray drift
  • spray drift effects on the adjacent vegetation, the environment and human activities.

As described in section 3, after application of the waste hierarchy for waste minimisation purposes, offsite discharge of wastewater will require a detailed analysis of the mine wastewater quality and the receiving stream water quality.

Any release of mine wastewater to a stream will need to comply with the SEPP objectives and will require an EPA works approval and waste discharge licence.

One of the more difficult aspects of this type of disposal is variable stream flow rate. Australian rivers and streams have extremely variable flow rates and the problems of matching pumping rates with stream flow rates to achieve the dilution requirements during the summer period may preclude this method for many sites.

In conjunction with an EPA licence, on site treatment of wastewater can be undertaken by applying physical, chemical, biological or a combination of these treatment methods.

Physical treatment usually consists of wastewater retention ponds to assist in settlement of solids to reduce turbidity before discharge. Chemical treatment may consist of flocculation to assist in solids settlement, the addition of lime to increase pH or aeration to assist in the precipitation of metals.

Biological treatment may consists of passing wastewater through a series of shallow, artificial wetland systems or tanks containing specific bacteria where biological activity can help to reduce pollutants in the wastewater.

Each of these treatment technologies comprises a treated discharge and a waste product. Depending on the technology used, waste products may be recycled back through the system or disposed of by alternate means.

For example, settling ponds and wetland treatment systems will have a build up of solids overtime that may be dried and redistributed in the pit or sent to landfill depending on the contaminant characteristics.

The recharge method of disposal of mine wastewater requires a thoroughly researched investigation phase before approval to the scheme will be given.

Proponents considering this option should consult with DELWP and the relevant water authority at an early stage. To undertake recharge the proponent will require licences from the EPA and water authority.

The proponent will have to demonstrate that disposal of mine wastewater by injection into the aquifer does not degrade the aquifer and reduce the quality or beneficial uses of the groundwater segment as described under the SEPP for Groundwater (see section 3.2.2).

As a general principle discharge into a potable groundwater resource is unlikely to be approved.

The proponent will have to demonstrate that the receiving aquifer has sufficient permeability and storage capacity to accept the mine wastewater.

Additionally the receiving aquifer should be hydro chemically compatible with the disposal wastewater so that chemical precipitates are not deposited in the pores of the aquifer.

Recharge rates may diminish over time and it is conceivable that the proponent may need two different series of reinjection bores to maintain the required dilution, quality and discharge volume to dispose of the mine wastewater.

The proponent may also need to filter or treat the wastewater prior to reinjection to avoid biofouling of the aquifer.

7. Environmental monitoring and reporting

The quality and quantity of all discharges must be measured, recorded and reported to the appropriate authorities in accordance with licence and work plan requirements. A mine water management plan will often be required as part of the environmental management plan or work plan for the mine operations.

All mining work plans are required to incorporate an environmental monitoring program. This normally includes monitoring of surface and groundwater parameters showing compliance with the relevant Acts and Regulations relevant to water management at the site.

Typically, a wastewater discharge monitoring program will include taking samples of the discharge wastewater as well as samples of the receiving water (from surface and groundwater), both upstream and downstream of the discharge point.

Sediment samples from upstream and downstream of the discharge point will also be required. Samples will need to be collected before, during and after the life of the mine operation.

A framework for developing a monitoring program should include the following elements:

  • Identification of the scope of the program.
  • Definition of the objectives of the program.
  • Outline of baseline data collection for environment segments to be impacted.
  • Determination of water quality indicators to be measured.
  • Selection of sample collection sites e.g. surface, groundwater and sediment.
  • Determination of monitoring frequency i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
  • Selection of an appropriate testing laboratory (NATA registered).
  • Reporting of results, particularly any breach of specified limits.
  • Regular audits of the program by an independent body to assess the adequacy and applicability of the program as well as opportunities for continuous improvement.

A properly designed monitoring program will assist the operator to run the mine efficiently while minimising impact on the environment. The data produced may also be important for demonstrating compliance and credibility to the community.

8. Further information

For further information on matters discussed in these guidelines or to discuss a proposal for mine or quarry water management, proponents should contact us at one of our regional offices.

9. References

Australian, New Zealand Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Environment Conservation Council Fresh and Marine Water Quality 2000

Guidelines for environmental management minerals exploration and mining
Department of Energy

Guidelines for the preparation of work plans
Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Earth Resources Regulation

Environmental guidelines for management of tailings storage facilities
Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Earth Resources Regulation

Environment Protection Agency best practice environmental management in Commonwealth of Australia mining:

  • Water management. May 1999
  • Environmental monitoring and performance. June 1995

State environment protection policy groundwaters of Victoria Dec. 1997
Environment Protection Authority

State environment protection policy waters of Victoria, June 2003
Environment Protection Authority

Stream watch for living streams
Melbourne Water Corporation

Minesite water management handbook
Minerals Council of Australia

Salinity management framework, restoring our catchments, August 2000
Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning

Salt disposal working group
Victorian manual of salt disposal in the Murray Darling Basin. Oct. 1993

Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994
Environment Protection Act 1970
Mineral Resources Development Act 1990
Water Act 1989
Victorian Government

Victoria's framework for action 2002 native vegetation
Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning

Water Act 1989 Guidelines for quarries and mines 2004
Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, Water Resource Policy Division

10. List of contacts

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Goulburn Murray Water

40 Casey St
PO Box 165
Tatura 3616
P: +61 3 5833 5500

Southern Rural Water

88 Johnson St
PO Box 153
Maffra 3860
P: +61 3 5139 3100

Lower Murray Urban and Rural Water

2115 – 2117 Fifteenth St
Irymple 3498
PO Box 1438
Mildura 3502
P: +61 3 5051 3400

Grampians Wimmera-Mallee Water

11 McLachlan St
Horsham 3400
PO Box 481
Horsham 3402
P: 1300 659 961


64 Dennis St
PO Box 159
Colac 3250
P: +61 3 5232 9100

East Gippsland

574 Main St
PO Box 1012
Bairnsdale 3875
P: +61 3 5152 0600


168 Welsford St
Shepparton 3630
P: +61 3 5820 1100

North Central

628 – 634 Midland Highway
PO Box 18
Huntly 3551
P: +61 3 5448 7124


DJPR Complex
Cnr Koorlong Ave and Eleventh St
Irymple 3498
PO Box 5017
Mildura 3502
P: +61 3 5051 4377

Port Phillip and Western Port

40 Ballarto Rd
PO Box 48
Frankston 3199
P: +61 3 9785 0187

West Gippsland

16 Hotham St
PO Box 1374
Traralgon 3844
P: +61 3 5157 7800


79 French St
Hamilton 3300
P: +61 3 5571 2526

North East

18 Footmark Ct
PO Box 616
Wodonga 3690
P: +61 2 6043 7600


26 Darlot St
Horsham 3400
PO Box 479
Horsham 3402
P: +61 3 5382 1544

Refer to the Environmental Protection Authority website for regional office details.

Appendix 1: Approvals required for waste water management proposals

Disposal MethodLegislationAgency Issue of ConcernApproval
Discharge to surface of land within licence or WA (eg tailings dam, evaporation dam) MRD or EID Acts Water Act (if construction on a waterway) DJPR Earth Resources Regulation, DELWP, Regional Water Authority Design must ensure that there will be no offsite discharge Impacts on downstream water quality Mining licence or work authority and approved work plan Water Act licence (if construction on a waterway)
Discharge to groundwater (eg reinjection) MRD or EID Acts Water Act and EP Act DJPR Earth Resources Regulation, DELWP, Regional Water Authority EPA Design ensures management of all likely events Impact on water table level Reduction of groundwater quality Mining licence, work authority, work plan Water Act licence works approval and waste discharge licence
Discharge to watercourse or natural wetland MRD or EID Acts EP Act MRD or EID Acts EP Act Design ensures management of all likely events Reduction of surface water quality Mining licence, work authority, work plan works approval and waste discharge licence


MRD Act: Mineral Resources Development Act 1991

EID Act: Extractive Industries Development Act 1995

EP Act: Environment Protection Act 1970

Water Act: Regional Water Authority and Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP)

EPA: Environment Protection Authority

Page last updated: 18 Sep 2023