Seqwater is driven by the principles of productive catchments and sustainable water quality.
That said, a number of risks to water quality exist and Seqwater undertakes a significant amount of work to address these risks in the catchment at the source.
Protecting the source
While operating some of the most advanced water treatment plants in the world Seqwater recognises that protecting water at its source in the catchments is vital to producing high quality drinking water and protecting human health.
This commitment is in line with the approach detailed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) through the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG).
Drinking water quality, according to the guidelines, is most effectively managed through a preventative multi barrier approach that encompasses all steps in water production from catchment to tap.
Protection of water at its source is recognised as the first and most fundamental barrier in the multiple barrier approach. Effective source protection decreases the amount of treatment required for water to reach standards suitable for human consumption.
Risks to water quality
The quality of raw water entering Seqwater’s Water Treatment Plants is a key factor in identifying treatment processes and effectiveness.
Bacteria and protozoa from human and animal sources in water supplies are identified by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as the most important catchment and treatment issue for the protection of human health.
Toxins from blue green algal blooms require additional treatment while changes in the levels of turbidity, metals and dissolved oxygen can all have major impacts on water treatment plant operation.
Key risks to the quality of water in the region’s dams which supply water for treatment are many and varied and include the following:
- Domestic waste water / septic and sewerage system overflows
- Wastewater discharges from sewerage treatment plants
- Stormwater drain discharges
- Storm events causing high pollutant load (first flush effects)
- Stock crossing points in water courses
- Pest animal impacts
- Weeds, both aquatic and terrestrial
- Lack of buffer zones along water courses
- Lack of in-stream aquatic vegetation which acts as a nutrient trap
- Roads impacts such as erosion, hazardous material spills and run-off
- Illegal access and activity
- Urban and rural residential development
- Agriculture and intensive animal farming
- Forestry activity and bush fire
- Quarries and mining activities
- Waste management and landfills
- Algal blooms
- Aquatic bird life
- Unmanaged recreational activity
Managing land and water quality
Seqwater is working to manage land and water quality under four key program areas.
Planning – to manage potential risks from land use activities through appropriate policy and planning.
Research – to provide new solutions for management of the region’s catchments and storages.
Monitoring – using both existing and new technologies as a core component of responsible catchment and storage management.
Catchment partnerships – to implement measures to protect and improve water quality, both now and into the future.