Don't Risk Water Quality For Fun

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17th November 2009, 08:16pm - Views: 548
Don't Risk Water Quality for Fun: Water Association Calls for Care on Recreational Use of Reservoirs

The Australian Water Association has appealed for the Western Australian government to exercise extreme caution when considering increased access to catchment areas in Western Australia for recreation.

The Western Australian Legislative Council's Public Administration Committee (PAC) is currently conducting an inquiry into this matter, and according to the Chief Executive of the AWA, Mr. Tom Mollenkopf, the risks to water quality are significant. Additional access would also necessitate a significant investment in upgraded treatment facilities, the cost of which would be large and passed-on to consumers.

"World's best practice is to protect public health by protecting catchments wherever possible. The best way of reducing risk to consumers is to establish multiple barriers against the risk of contamination. One of these barriers is a well maintained catchment in which human activity is restricted", said Mr. Mollenkopf.

Other barriers include various forms of water treatment, disinfection, increased monitoring and the maintenance of the distribution (pipe) network.

The Australian Water Association stated that it is aware of pressure to provide more recreational access to storages, however its clear position is that catchment protection should remain in place.

"Should the PAC recommend against this position, it will be absolutely essential that sophisticated treatment processes be installed on all drinking water supplies to minimise the risk to human health arising from the loss of catchment protection.

"The public of Western Australia will need to think very carefully about whether it is willing to compromise water quality for recreation, or to pay the cost of installing new treatment processes to protect human health," he continued.

Increased catchment access can increase the risk of human pathogens, domestic animal waste and other contaminants entering waterways. It can also lead to increased erosion in the catchment and an increase in the turbidity, or muddiness of the water. Higher turbidity can reduce the effectiveness of the disinfection process.

"Recreation is important, but assuring high quality water is more important," said Mr. Mollenkopf.

Further information:
Tom Mollenkopf, Chief Executive, Australian Water Association:
(02) 9467 8409 or
0422 637 876

Andrew Speers, Industry Programs Manager, AWA:
(02) 9467 8426 or
0400 992 069

Edie Nyers, Communications and Marketing Manager
(02) 9467 8416 or
0401 806 277

The Australian Water Association is an independent, not-for-profit association for water professionals and organisations. AWA provides leadership in the water sector through collaboration, advocacy and professional development. Our services range from publications, conferences and courses, right through to community and industry programs.

SOURCE: Australian Water Association

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