Legislation, policies and guidelines for waterways
Our legislation helps us protect and manage waterways
The Minister for Water has statutory powers regarding the protection and management of waterways and their foreshores. The Department of Water supports the Minister in exercising these powers.
Under the Water Agencies (Powers) Act 1984, the Department of Water provides water science and advice to support policy development, planning, decision-making and management of the state's waterways.
The Department of Water has responsibility for applying the Country Areas Water Supply Act 1947 and Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Act 1909 and associated by-laws to protect waterways that are public drinking water sources.
The Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 provides for regulating the take and use of water from watercourses and wetlands in proclaimed rivers, surface water management areas, irrigation districts and groundwater areas. The objects of this Act include providing for the sustainable use and development of water resources, protection of their ecosystems and the environment in which water resources are situated, and assisting the integration of water resources management with other natural resources management.
The Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 1914 also provides for permit system for activities that may damage, obstruct or interfere with the beds and banks of watercourses and wetlands in proclaimed rivers, surface water management areas and irrigation districts.
The Minister for Water has statutory responsibility for administering the declared management areas under the Waterways Conservation Act 1976. These are Albany waterways, Avon River, Wilson Inlet, Peel–Harvey estuaries and Leschenault Inlet. However, Department of Water has no active 'management programs' as specified under this legislation at present. For waterways management planning, the Department of Water generally acts under the Water Agencies (Powers) Act 1984 (above).
Legislation administered by other agencies
The Department of Water also has a role in providing advice to, and considering the legislation administered by, other agencies and entities to ensure that waterways are appropriately considered and protected in other approval and land administration processes. This includes the:
- Minister for Planning, Western Australian Planning Commission, Department of Planning, local government and redevelopment authorities when they administer the Planning and Development Act 2005.
- Office of the Environmental Protection Authority when it assists the Environmental Protection Authority and the Minister for the Environment to administer the environmental impact assessment process under Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
- Department of Environment Regulation when it administers licenses, works approvals and the native vegetation protection process under Parts IV and V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986, Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004 and Environmental Protection Regulations 1987.
- Department of Mines and Petroleum when it administers the Environmental Protection (Clearing of Native Vegetation) Regulations 2004 and Part V Division 2 of the associated parts of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 under delegation.
- Swan River Trust when it administers the Swan and Canning Rivers Management Act 2006 in relation to the Development Control Area, Riverpark and their enforcement actions (e.g. river protection notices) in the wider catchment.
- Department of Regional Development and Lands when it assists the Pastoral Lands Board to administer the Land Administration Act 1997 to manage land uses and permits on crown land, including pastoral diversification permits, and when it creates and manages waterways foreshore reserves under the Land Administration Act 1997.
- Department of Parks and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture and Food and National Trust of Australia, when they create covenants to protect vegetation in foreshore areas under the Transfer of Land Act 1893, Soil and Land Conservation Act 1945 and National Trust of Australia (W.A.) Act 1964, respectively.
- Minister for Fisheries and Department of Fisheries when, under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994, they create a fish habitat protection area for the conservation and protection of fish or the aquatic ecosystem, or when the Minister for Fisheries requires a suitable fishway on a dam weir or reservoir when a public authority proposes to construct, alter or modify that dam weir or reservoir on a waterway.
Policies and guidance that relate to waterways
Department of Water assists other state agencies to consider waterways in their policies and guidelines where appropriate. Key guidance documents for protecting water resources during land planning and development are:
- State Planning policy 2.9: Water resources (Western Australian Planning Commission 2006)
- Better urban water management (Western Australian Planning Commission 2006)
- Chapter B5 Waterways in Guidance statement 33: Environmental guidance for planning and development (Environmental Protection Agency 2008).
The Department of Water has prepared a number of policies and guidelines that explain our waterway protection and management principles and expectations and how to implement our advice.
A key policy specific to waterways is Identification and establishment of waterways foreshore areas.