In South Africa the ultimate goal in water quality management is to keep the water resources suitable for all “beneficial uses”. Beneficial uses provides a basis for the derivation of water quality guidelines, which, for South Africa, are defined in Water quality guidelines for the South African coastal zone (DWAF, 1991). The CSIR has developed a practical approach to marine water quality management, taking into account international trends and local experience, which can be applied to any coastal development with potential influence on water quality. The management plan is divided into three logical components, i.e.
• site-specific statutory requirements and environmental objectives;
• system design with specific reference to influences on water quality; and
• monitoring programmes.
Within this management approach water quality issues are addressed in a holistic manner, through focused procedures and clear identification of information requirements. This paper describes the procedures and information requirements within each component of the water quality management plan, with specific reference to marine disposal systems. Ideally, the management plan should be implemented from the feasibility and conceptual design phase of a development and the timing of the different procedures within the development process are therefore also highlighted. However, the logical lay-out of procedures allows for easy initiation (even to existing disposal system) at any stage of development.