BPEM review underway

Melbourne Water/Clearwater

With the release of the Ministerial Advisory Council's (MAC's) Roadmap for water reform, the Living Melbourne, Living Victoria Implementation Plan, and the Victorian Government's Yarra and Bay Action Plan, a review of the Best Practice Environmental Guidelines for Urban Stormwater (BPEM) is timely and necessary to meet the Government's aspirations for integrated water management.

The review, due for completion by November this year, is a joint project between Melbourne Water, EPA, OLV and DSE, and will focus on rationalising what information should be contained in the BPEM, what additions may be required and ensure all information and references are up to date.

The current BPEM were developed (under leadership of the EPA) over 10 years ago. The science identifying the interactions between stormwater and the health of receiving waters has markedly improved, identifying directly-connected impervious areas and stormwater flows as major determinants of in-stream ecological health. The current guidelines do not address these key parameters and do not stipulate best practice for flow patterns water quality or rate of discharge associated with catchment area. The current guidelines focus on loads-based reduction of physical and chemical parameters.

The stormwater quality objectives in the current BPEM Guidelines are heavily relied upon by the stormwater management industry. This project provides an opportunity to review the scope, form and specifics of the objectives based on the latest research and industry experience.

The guidelines aim to improve the quality of urban stormwater entering receiving waters by:

  • Setting environmental performance objectives and water quality standards for managing urban stormwater
  • Supporting implementation of these standards by providing guidance on: technologies and tools that can reduce and/or remove sources of stormwater pollution; and policy and planning settings such as the development of Stormwater Management Plans

Changing the BPEM standards will involve a two-phased approach. The first is a technical review of the BPEM standards (i.e. review of current standards, determination of what the standards should be, and the associated rationale). The second phase is the determination of recommended changes to the existing BPEM (based on broader assessment of standards beyond technical considerations, e.g. costs and benefits of different standards.

Clearwater will provide another update on the BPEM review as more information is released. 

Urban Stormwater - Best-Practice Environmental Management Guidelines can be downloaded via the CSIRO website.