1484. Hon Alison Xamon to the Minister for Environment:
In March 2018 the Review of the Swan Canning Rivers Management Act 2006 stated that the mechanism of River Protection Notices had yet to be used. In 2014, the Auditor General identified several issues that would comply with the criteria required for issuing a River Protection Notice i.e., situations where cooperative approaches to dealing with prolonged, non-point source and/or landscape scale problems have not worked. I ask:
(a) why has a River Protection Notice not been issued to work through the ongoing issues with urban drainage into the river system; and
(b) why has a River Protection Notice not been issued to work through the ongoing issues with nutrient flow into the Swan and Canning Rivers?
Hon Stephen Dawson replied:
(a)–(b) River Protection Notices (RPNs) are intended to be used where existing powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 or other legislation are inadequate and an owner or occupier of land within the catchment area is undertaking an activity that compromises the ecological and community benefit or amenity of the Swan Canning Riverpark.
Although urban drainage provides point source pollution (including nutrient pollution) into the river system at drain outlets, the drains are usually not the source of this pollution. Rather, the source is often diffuse, from cumulative small inputs that may be both urban and rural and can include historical sources that enter the drainage system through surface and groundwater.
Before issuing a RPN, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) must first establish a direct link between a specific catchment-based activity and the impact. DBCA would then work collaboratively with the landowner or occupier to address the issue. If this process was unsuccessful, a RPN could be issued. However, it is not considered appropriate to use RPNs where the pollution, including nutrients, originates from multiple, diffuse sources.
DBCA works collaboratively with drainage asset managers and partners to engage with landholders to improve water quality through education and appropriate land management practises under the Swan Canning River Protection Strategy.