Business, industry and planning guidance

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.

New urban stormwater guidance development

Since the publication of the 1999 BPEM, knowledge of the harmful effects of stormwater discharges, including the harm associated with stormwater flow regimes, has significantly expanded. Stormwater treatments are also better understood. EPA is currently developing new guidance, to reflect current scientific knowledge, and industry and regulatory, practice. EPA is currently assessing options to develop new guidance.

Public consultation is anticipated to begin in 2020. A draft guideline will be published and you will be given the opportunity to provide your feedback.

You can register for updates on the review by emailing or calling 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC). Registered parties will be notified when EPA publishes a draft guideline for public comment.

Page last updated on 15 Nov 2019