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EPA Certificate of Approval Reform Project – Update 1 from meeting 01 July 2015

July 2, 2015
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While in most circumstances the minutes of the meeting will be circulated after confirmation by all parties (expected 2 week turn-around) to ensure accuracy of information, this update is to alert Environmental Health Officers and Managers of some immediate issues and likely actions required following this initial meeting with EPA, Australian Water Treatment Association and MAV.
 
1.       At this meeting the EPA advised that, as an interim measure pending the finalisation of the reforms on 1 January,  they are intending to re-issue all current CAs under the title of “Statement of Approval” (SAs). The wording in these SAs is largely identical to the wording in the current CAs except that conditions listed will now be worded as recommended best practice and the wording of individual conditions will change from must to should.
 
The concern of your reps is that it will no longer be sufficient to have a standard condition requiring compliance with the specified SA as the SA will not  be worded in an enforceable manner.  Councils will therefore need to ensure that their permits include the relevant clauses from the individual SAs and strengthen the requirements from should to must in order to ensure enforceability.
 
The EPA  have agreed to publish both the SA and CA for an interim period of 1 month to allow time for Councils to implement any changes required in their systems.
 
2.       Please note that the EPA have reiterated that they are committed to withdrawing from the approval of domestic wastewater treatment plants through the current Certificate of Approval process and it is not within the Terms of Reference of this working group to pursue the reversal of that decision; (although the matter has been raised, and will no doubt continue to be raised in the context of how the decision and consequent changes impact on Councils, public health and the environment). If member Councils wish to pursue the reversal of the decision of the EPA then they will need to make representations direct to the EPA or relevant State Ministers.
 
3.       At this time, EPA has not provided a clear definition of system ‘type’ and how this will interact with testing and approval. Your reps have requested that EPA provide clarity on this and will actively pursue this through following meetings. The definition will be pivotal in conceptualising how this reform will look once complete and remains a priority for your reps to establish.
 
If you have any questions in relation to this matter please contact your rep as listed below.
Your reps: Sarah Annells, Greg Andrews, Tim Brown, Jason Barnes, Kevin Murphy, Ken Jones, Sandy Forster.