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Requirements for successful water quality offsetting: industry based research report for Western Water

By Nathan Brice Delbridge


The Victorian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) supports the use of offsetting as a flexible means of managing water quality under the State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP) (Waters of Victoria). The EPA however do not provides guidance on how best to use them in achieving regulatory compliance. To inform the use of offsets under the SEPP, interrogate the international literature on water quality trading and biodiversity offsetting to identifying five requirements for successful water quality offsetting. The requirements I identify are (1) institutional capacity; (2) exceeding environmental equivalence; (3) demonstrating additionally; (4) social acceptability; and (5) economic feasibility, concluding that any offset plan that violates even one of these requirements is likely to fail. I test the five requirements in a pilot study for Western Water in the Jackson's Creek catchment in north-western Melbourne. Through the pilot I highlight the potential hurdles to implementing a successful offset, and provide a suite of recommendations to assist Western Water in satisfying the five requirements. I conclude that offsets may have the potential to provide least-cost compliance opportunities that produce net environmental benefits, however they are confounded by the inherent complexities and uncertainties of water quality management

Topics: Environmental offsets, Victoria State Environment Protection Policy, Western Water
Year: 2014
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