Managing Water Pollution in NSW

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is the state's primary environmental regulator and focuses on the regulation of water pollution from activities included on Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) or other legislation such as the Forestry Act 2012.

The EPA uses complementary approaches to protect the waterways of NSW from the impacts of pollution. These include planning processes, regulation, compliance programs, enforcement, market-based instruments and other economic incentives, investigations, monitoring and reporting programs, and public education.

The EPA regulates discharges to water using conditions it places on the environment protection licences that are issued under the POEO Act.

The EPA is also the lead agency responsible for managing contaminated groundwater under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997 where the contamination is significant enough to warrant regulation.

The wide range of potential water pollution sources means that the EPA shares responsibility for enforcement of the water pollution provisions under the POEO Act with local councils and many other agencies that also have powers of enforcement. Local government has a significant on-ground presence under the POEO Act. While the EPA regulates licensed premises and State or public authorities, councils regulate other activities through notice and enforcement powers.

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