Ian Ramsay

Ian Ramsay

Dr Ian Ramsay works for the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and has worked on regulation and management of wastewater discharges for the past 20 years. He manages a team of staff who provide scientific advice, particularly in regards to water quality and aquatic ecosystem health assessments. He is also involved in developing and maintaining various decision support software and databases, such as the Department’s Water Tracking and Electronic Reporting System (WaTERS). His original training was is in the field of chemical engineering and he has a research background in modelling and process control of anaerobic treatment systems.

Effectiveness of Receiving Environment Monitoring Programs to Support Environmental Regulation in Queensland

A Receiving Environment Monitoring Program (REMP) is often required as part of Environmental Approvals in Queensland for activities that release wastewater to the environment. The need for a REMP is usually determined when an application for the approval is first assessed and is based on the nature of the activity and the potential environmental risk involved. Many large industries and councils are required to undertake a REMP for surface water, groundwater and in some cases related to land disposal. The aim of a REMP is usually to monitor and assess the potential impacts of controlled releases of wastewater and associated contaminants on the environment. A REMP provides a basis for evaluating whether the discharge limits or other conditions imposed upon an activity have been successful in maintaining or protecting receiving environment values over time.

Significant effort is spent on undertaking REMPs by many organisation in Queensland. The data collected from these REMPs is important to assist with the ongoing regulation and management of these facilities. However, there are a range of challenges with how many REMPs are designed and operated. The programs can vary significantly depending on the nature of the activity, such as mining or sewage treatment, the location of the release and the nature of the receiving waters. Other complexities include: the choice of monitoring locations; the indicators being measured; the timing and frequency of sampling; sampling and analysis methods; the guidelines or objectives used to assess the data; and data assessment, sharing and reporting. This presentation will look at some of the limitations of current REMPs based for some key activities and geographical locations in Queensland. It will also propose a range of options that should be considered to streamlined and improve REMPs to better serve the needs of industry, the regulator and the broader community.

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