1999 – Introducing an Environment Management System to a Headworks Business – The Goulburn-Murray Water Experience

Gordon O’Brien

The paper outlines the integration of Environmental Risk Management in Goulburn- Murray Water with previous work on Dam Safety, Business and Occupational Health and Safety risks. This has now been followed by the development of an Environmental Management System (EMS) to provide an environmental risk management framework for the whole Authority.

An Environmental Audit in 1997 identified deficiencies in some areas of environmental management and questioned the Authority’s ability to demonstrate due diligence. This led to a decision to develop and implement an EMS based on the International Standard ISO 14001.

Examination of Goulburn-Murray Water activities, associated environmental aspects and impacts, (and the consequences arising), led to the establishment ofan environmental risk register. Analysis and assessment of the risks to produce a ranking Jrom low to very high is described. Refinement to a significant risk register (high and very high risks), and consolidation into a list of generic risks based on major activities, functions and asset categories is described.
Based on this risk profile for the Authority, the Environmental Policy and Objectives were revised, and a methodology for identifying Environmental Targets was developed. Environmental Risk reduction is then delivered through the implementation of target driven Environmental Management Programs (EMPs).

Major system elements described include an emergency response plan, a legal register, an authority / responsibility matrix, a document control system, procedures, forms, training, auditing, and reporting.

The paper describes some of the practical issues encountered and the lessons learned with a focus on the activities of the Headworks Business. A prospective view of implementation and culture change issues is given.

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