Voluntary market-based mechanism for nutrient management
The voluntary market-based mechanism for nutrient management offers an alternative investment option for regulated point source operators to manage their water emission requirements under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, while delivering an improvement in water quality.
The mechanism provides guidance to environmental authority holders, such as sewage treatment plants and aquaculture operations, in using alternative nutrient reduction actions to counterbalance nitrogen and phosphorous loads contained in water emissions. Alternative nutrient reduction actions may come from another point source, or may be achieved through diffuse actions such as bank stabilisation, improved fertiliser application and constructed wetlands.
This mechanism is an important first step in trialling the application of market-based instruments to improve waterway health in Queensland.
Beaudesert Pilot Project
Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) is undertaking a pilot project using alternative nutrient reduction actions in the Logan River to manage additional nitrogen discharges from the Beaudesert Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) as a result of local population growth.
QUU has invested almost $1 million to repair 500 metres of eroded riparian corridors located close to the Beaudesert STP. The works include undertaking structural bank stabilisation and riparian planting—estimated to prevent approximately five tonnes of nitrogen and 11,200 tonnes of sediment from entering the Logan River each year due to erosion.
The nitrogen savings made through the riparian works will be used to counterbalance any potential increases in nitrogen discharge from the sewage treatment plant that may occur during wet weather events.
These nitrogen savings will allow the Beaudesert STP to continue safely at its current capacity in the short-term—without undertaking expensive upgrades, which were estimated to cost $8 million. This means that the savings of $7 million can be invested elsewhere in the sewerage network.
The Beaudesert pilot project will run from 2014–19 including detailed monitoring and assessment.