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Urban stormwater best practice environmental management guidelines


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What is the urban best practice environmental management guidelines?

 The Urban stormwater best practice environmental management guidelines (BPEM) provide a toolbox to meet the needs of those planning, designing and/or managing urban land uses or stormwater systems. The BPEM can be downloaded from the CSIRO website.

The BPEM establishes stormwater quality objectives to help determine the level of stormwater management necessary to meet the State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) objectives. This SEPP is a statutory policy under section 16 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 that identifies the beneficial uses of Victoria's waterways.

SEPP (Waters) requires measures to be implemented to control the environmental impact of stormwater pollution. The BPEM sets best-practice performance objectives for urban stormwater to help meet the policy's requirements.

It is now compulsory under the Victoria Planning Provisions for many types of residential, industrial, commercial and public developments to design and manage urban stormwater management systems to meet current BPEM objectives.

The objectives for environmental management of stormwater are:

  • suspended solids (SS) - 80 per cent retention of the typical urban annual load
  • total phosphorus (TP) - 45 per cent retention of the typical urban annual load
  • total nitrogen (TN) - 45 per cent retention of the typical urban annual load
  • litter - 70 per cent retention of typical urban annual load
  • flows - maintain discharges for the 1.5 year ARI at pre-development levels.

Source: BPEM table 2.1, p.15.

The BPEM document also helps to improve the quality of urban stormwater entering receiving waters by providing guidance in ten key areas:

  1. environmental performance objectives and principles
  2. stormwater management planning
  3. land-use planning
  4. water sensitive urban design
  5. construction site management
  6. business surveys
  7. education and awareness
  8. municipal operations and enforcement
  9. structural treatment measures
  10. flow management.

The BPEM document was published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in 1999. The guidelines were developed by EPA, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne Water, Municipal Association of Victoria and local government. The guidelines are the product of considerable research and technical review of a wide range of urban stormwater management issues and measures.

Urban stormwater BPEM review process and next steps

Since the publication of the BPEM, knowledge of the harmful effects of stormwater pollutants, including the harm associated with stormwater flow regimes, has significantly expanded. Stormwater treatments are also better understood. EPA is currently reviewing the BPEM, to ensure it reflects current scientific knowledge and regulatory practice. EPA is currently assessing options to revise the BPEM.

Public consultation is anticipated to begin in mid-2019. An impact assessment of the options and a proposed revised BPEM will be published on the Engage Victoria website: https://engage.vic.gov.au/. You will be given the opportunity to provide your feedback.

You can register for updates on the review by emailing UrbanStormwaterBPEM@epa.vic.gov.au or calling 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC). Registered parties will be notified when EPA publishes the impact assessment for public comment.

Page last updated on 13 May 2019