Private drinking water supplies by lindahy


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									WQPN 41, April 2006

Private drinking water supplies

Private water supply sources make up more than 80 per cent of all waters used in W.A. They can
appear clean, fresh and aesthetically pleasing, but they may contain microscopic and dissolved
contaminants, either naturally occurring or contaminated by land use activities. Unlike scheme
drinking water supplies, which are safely protected using a range of contamination barriers (eg
catchment management involving exclusion or regulation of risky land use activities, and water
treatment with associated monitoring), private water supplies normally don’t receive the same
level of protection. This note is designed to increase awareness of water quality issues, advise on
potential risks and offer measures that may be taken to protect private water supplies taken from
roof run-off, surface waterways or groundwater.

The Department of Water is responsible for managing and protecting the State’s water resources.
It is also a lead agency for water conservation and reuse. This note offers:
• the Department’s current views on water supplies for rural dwellings, remote communities,
     holiday resorts, mining camps, industrial sites and isolated sites where scheme water
     supplies are impractical; and
• guidance on acceptable practices used to protect the quality of Western Australia’s water

This note provides a general guide on issues of environmental concern, and offers potential
solutions based on professional judgement and precedent. It’s recommendations do not override
any statutory obligation or Government policy requirement. Alternative practical environmental
solutions suited to local conditions should be considered. The recommendations should not be
used by regulators in place of a site-specific assessment of any project’s environmental risks.
Regulatory conditions set should consider the values of the surrounding environment, the
safeguards in place, and take a precautionary approach. The note shall not be used as the
departmental policy position on a specific matter, unless confirmed in writing.


The information in this note may apply to water supplies drawn from lakes, roof-tops, stored
stormwater run-off, springs, underground sources (aquifers) or waterways for:
• domestic usage (ie drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning or waste flushing) at private dwellings,
    mining camps, holiday resorts, and farm-stays;
• drinking water for pets and stock animals;
• replenishing swimming pools and spas;
• processing of food and beverages; and/ or
• irrigation of crops that are consumed raw by humans eg fruit and salad vegetables.                        1 of 13 pages                    Private drinking water supplies
Water quality in the environment, which varies with time, location and catchment influences, may
not routinely meet the national drinking water criteria published in the Australian Drinking Water
Guidelines 2004. This note recognises that water harvested by individuals also may not be
effectively treated or tested prior to use, and hence may pose risks to human health.

Water quality risks
Risks to water quality may range from aesthetic problems (eg colour, odour), operational nuisance
issues (eg sediment, taste), chemical related damage to plants (eg salts), or in a worst case
situation, acute or long-term health problems in people or animals. Potential water quality risks
• Physical characteristics
    Colour, foam and suds, suspended solids, odours, bad taste, and skin/eye irritation.
• Chemical contaminants
    Excessive salts (eg chloride, sulphate and nitrates), heavy metals (eg iron, cadmium,
    chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc), poisons (arsenic, cyanide, pesticides) and
    petroleum derivatives (fuels, lubricants and solvents), and in rare cases, radioactive
• Microbe infestations (microscopic organisms that cause health problems)
    Bacteria (eg cholera, dysentery, gastro-enteritis, salmonella, or streptococcal infections), fungi,
    viruses (eg hepatitis), parasites that may cause gastro-enteritis (giardia and cryptosporidia),
    intestinal worms (eg tape worm) and toxic algae (eg cyanobacteria).

Influences on water quality
Contaminants responsible for causing a risk to water quality can be naturally occurring in the
environment or be linked to land use activities in the surrounding catchment.

The natural environment
Colour derived from plant tannins, hard (calcium-rich) or acidic water, salts, metals (eg arsenic,
copper, iron, manganese, zinc), hydrogen sulphide (produces a rotten–egg odour) and micro-
organisms are naturally present in the environment. These constituents may occur at
concentrations that make a water resource unsuitable for specific uses unless treated, eg high
concentrations of natural salts in groundwater may make the water unusable for animal drinking or
irrigation. On occasion, water quality can be made worse by human activity eg turbidity and salinity
from land clearing, and acid sulphate soils producing waters containing heavy metals may result
from lowering of the water table level in areas occupied by carbon-rich oxygen depleted soil, such
as in peat swamps.

Agricultural chemicals
Where these materials are applied to land, but not fully absorbed by plants or naturally degraded
by air, sunlight and soil microbes, they can leach off site and may harm the values of downstream
waters. For example, a chemical in common use to assist or protect crops may harm an
aquaculture business operated by a down-stream landowner.

Animal wastes and manures
Animals (including birds, rodents and frogs) may be a source of microbes that cause a disease
risk. Salmonella bacteria can pass to humans or animals when waste comes into contact with
water in the environment. Nutrients from wastes can also add to algae problems in streams, dams
and open tanks.                          2 of 13 pages                      Private drinking water supplies
Chemical spills and leakage from holding facilities
Small spills and leaks may appear innocuous, however if the chemical involved is very toxic and
mobile in the environment, or if the discharge is frequent, long-term or widespread, it may pose a
large cumulative threat to downstream water supply sources.

Human waste is a source of disease if infective organisms are present in the community. Poorly
designed or operated sewage treatment and disposal practices (eg badly sited septic tank
systems) can recycle microbes back into the community via its water supplies. Cholera and typhoid
epidemics remain problems in many countries without adequate sanitation practices. Regardless of
the provision of sewerage schemes and modern on-site wastewater treatment systems, sporadic
problems remain with gastro-enteritis and parasite infections that may be linked to poorly protected
water supplies. Partly treated sewage also contributes nutrients into water resources that can raise
health concerns based on nitrate levels and foster algal blooms in surface water bodies.

Waste disposal
Waste materials (including organic waste from animals and plants, engine oil, metals and chemical
residues deposited at domestic or industrial sites and land-fills) with poor containment or porous
soil can leach pollutants into underlying groundwater or adjacent water systems. Rainfall
percolation can carry waste residues into both surface and ground waters.

Pollutants may move large distances in stormwater run-off or groundwater flow and eventually
enter in water supply dams or wells. In an urban environment, a container of used engine
degreaser poured onto the ground may contaminate bore-water used for irrigation affecting plants
or children playing under a sprinkler.

Common pathways for contaminant transfer to water resources include:
• wash-off of chemical residues from land into stormwater and agricultural drains or
  watercourses following rainfall;
• leaching from poorly sealed waste holding dams into groundwater;
• contaminant entry to water bore casings that are poorly sealed against water intrusion near the
  ground surface; and
• misuse of or disposal of chemicals near waterways and within catchment areas.

Are harmful water contaminants naturally removed in the environment?
Some substances may be naturally removed or immobilised, but many are not. The outcome
largely depends on whether soil properties can filter out, chemically bind or degrade contaminants.
The time taken for contaminants to travel from a source to entry into a private water supply can be
important, as many contaminants take a long time to naturally degrade, especially if warmth,
oxygen and decomposition microbes are limited.

Some positive factors to consider:
• When beds of clay, silt or solid rock confine groundwater, a surface contaminant may not be
  able to easily reach a deep or remote water source.
• Many modern pesticides are only active in the environment for a few days and then naturally
  breakdown (via biodegradation) in the presence of sunlight, air and soil microbes to form
  relatively harmless substances.

Some negative factors to consider:
• Waters travelling in stormwater run-off or a stream may move too rapidly for biodegradation of
  contaminants to be effective.                        3 of 13 pages                     Private drinking water supplies
•   Some contaminants are highly mobile and do not degrade in the environment such as salts,
    poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the banned organo-chlorine pesticides (eg dieldrin).

Untreated water taken from the environment is considered unsafe for human drinking

It is unsafe for people to drink untreated water drawn from surface water bodies and shallow
groundwater (aquifers receiving direct recharge from the surface), especially where there is
significant human activity or agriculture in the surrounding catchment. The acute health threat is
from disease-causing micro-organisms. Chemical residues (detectable via scientific analysis) may
also cause chronic health effects. Contaminant detection purely using our senses is unreliable.


Drinking water supply options
1. Install rainwater tanks that collect run-off from building roofs. In areas of the south-west of WA
   with an average annual rainfall of 750 millimetres, a roof area of 150 square metres may supply
   around 100 kilolitres of drinking water in a normal rainfall year. This amount is considered
   sufficient for a family of four to meet annual kitchen (20 kilolitres) and bathroom (50 kilolitres)
   needs with a margin of safety for variable rainfall. Low or inconsistent rainfall areas will yield
   lower supply quantities.

2. To access regional climate data and Department of Health (WA) information on local water
   sources and your health, see references in Appendix A. The Institution of Engineers’
   publication Australian Rainfall and Runoff provides advice on estimating rainfall run-off into
   collection systems. Vermin and dust should be screened from tanks and the inflow from the
   first wet season rainfall diverted to waste. The Government presently provides subsidies for
   water-saving devices such as rainwater tanks in scheme water supply areas. At least two tanks
   may be required by regulatory agencies to maximise secure availability of water supplies.

3. Install water storage tanks and arrange for a contractor to supply bulk deliveries from a clean
   source. See Water cartage in the Yellow pages. The Department of Health (WA) has guidance
   brochures on this topic. Sources may include drawing from a metered standpipe connected to
   the scheme water supply. Details of connection arrangements and applicable costs are
   available from water services providers eg the Water Corporation. Tanks should be fully
   enclosed to exclude light and airborne contaminants.

4. Drink commercially bottled water available from retail outlets and specialty suppliers.

5. Obtain your drinking supplies in clean plastic (eg 20 litre) containers from a public water supply
   scheme. These containers should be clearly marked drinking water and never used for other

6. Where practical, drill a deep bore into confined water-bearing rock or aquifer, which is
   protected from surface contamination by thick layers of low permeability materials such as clay
   or shale. Water drawn from deep in the ground is less likely to contain harmful microbes, but
   may contain salts and toxic minerals. Water sampling and analysis should occur prior to using
   these supplies for drinking or crops. The analysis of confined bore water sources should follow
   the recommendations made in Chapter 10 of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. A water
   allocation licence from the Department of Water is required for all water supply bores in
   confined aquifers.

7. Install an on-site water treatment system. This may be costly and requires regular replacement
   of components such as filters and disinfecting materials. Water treatment skills and experience,
   routine equipment maintenance and periodic water quality monitoring are needed to sustain
   treatment performance. Disinfection of the treated water is needed for health reasons, while
   chemical treatment or filtering may be needed to remove other contaminants.                         4 of 13 pages                      Private drinking water supplies
8. Advice on the performance of water treatment systems is available from reputable Water
   treatment and equipment suppliers, see listings in the Yellow pages phone directory.
   Commercial (at tap) treatment systems, involving cartridge filtration, reverse osmosis, activated
   carbon and ultraviolet disinfection (with lamp failure alarm) can be effective if adequately
   matched to the chemistry of the local water source when determined by regular chemical
   analyses. All treatment systems need to be installed and maintained in accordance with
   supplier’s instructions.

9. Boiling water before consumption or the use of drinking water disinfectant tablets provides a
   practical alternative in remote locations for deactivation of most waterborne microbes. Boiling
   water however does not remove harmful chemicals or detoxify algae.
General household water supplies
10. Untreated water could be suitable for toilet flushing and garden watering provided it meets
    aesthetic and salinity quality criteria. Caution is needed where untreated water supplied to the
    bathroom or laundry may come into contact with or be consumed by children. Approval from
    local health authorities should be sought for all in house pipe-work, as plumbing cross
    connections sometimes occur which results in untreated water reaching the kitchen tap.

11. Warning picto-grams should be placed near taps supplying water that is possibly unsafe for
    drinking or food preparation. In some settings calcium-rich (hard) or corrosive waters may
    damage plumbing fittings, and iron or manganese may stain clothing. Advice on the properties
    of local water in your area should be sought from the Department of Water, local government
    authorities and any long-established neighbours.

Water quality testing
12. Private water supplies should be sampled, scientifically tested and checked against published
    national water quality guideline criteria (see Water Quality Criteria section) as ‘fit for purpose’
    prior to use. If doubts exist about your local water quality or the effects of any nearby land use,
    representative samples of the water should be tested at a laboratory accredited to perform the
    analysis by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA). These laboratories are
    listed under Analysts in the Yellow Pages phone directory. Individual tests are necessary for
    selected physical, chemical or microbiological contaminants.

13. For human drinking water supplies, the following minimum testing is recommended in Table 1.
    Table 1
    Description           Characteristics         Measured parameter                  Frequency
    Raw water             Physical                pH, colour, alkalinity,              fortnightly
                                                  EC, turbidity, algae
                         Chemicals                Pesticides                            monthly
                                                  Selected metals                       quarterly
                         Microbiological          Thermotolerant                        monthly
                         Radiological             Gross Alpha & Beta                     5 years
                                                  activity screening
    Treated water        Physical                 pH, dissolved oxygen,                    daily
                                                  turbidity, hardness,
                                                  temperature, algae
                         Chemicals                Disinfectant residual                  weekly
                                                  Selected metals, salts                quarterly
                         Microbiological          Thermotolerant                        monthly
    Source: Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2004                          5 of 13 pages                      Private drinking water supplies
    Table 1 notes
    a. Where the water source is poorly protected from contamination or water use changes
       seasonally eg for holiday accommodation, a different frequency for analyses may be
    b. Where untreated drinking water has not been assessed as free of microbial contaminants, it
       should be boiled prior to human consumption.

14. A water analysis program should be developed that includes water sampling undertaken by
    people qualified and experienced in water quality testing. Confirmation should be sought from
    the Department of Health or local government authorities on acceptability of testing regimes.
    As water quality may vary seasonally or over time, regular analyses should occur, with timing
    matched to the risk level of harm arising from use of a tainted water source. For surface water
    sources, the highest contamination risk normally arises after heavy rainfall, especially at the
    onset of the wet season and after wild-fires. Comprehensive and accurate analysis of water
    requires skilful management, appropriate sample collection and preservation (eg samples held
    on ice and analysed within 24 hours of collection) and can be costly. The costs of water
    analysis are normally borne by the water user, although guidance may be obtained from
    relevant government agencies such as the Chemistry Centre (WA) or this Department.

15. Water test kits for use in the field can provide an approximation of the contaminant
    concentration for many substances provided the supplier’s recommendations are closely
    followed. Where field testing indicates the water quality is marginal or uncertain for the
    intended use, National Association of Testing Authorities accredited laboratory testing should
    follow, particularly if human health may be at risk.

How do you know if your water supply may cause harm?
16. A few indicators of water quality may be evident to our senses, such as colour, odour, sediment
    and taste. However, there are many chemical and biological constituents that could be present
    at harmful concentrations in water and may not readily be seen, smelt or tasted. Commercial
    analytical laboratories (see Analysts in the Yellow Pages phone directory) can advise on water
    testing and its associated costs.

17. You may gain some idea of potential risks to water quality by having a good understanding of
    surrounding land uses and whether neighbours have experienced problems with their water
    supplies. In general, the more intensive the land use, the greater the risks of the source
    becoming contaminated.

18. To be confident that a water supply is safe requires either its isolation from identified hazards
    or continuous water treatment and regular laboratory testing. Public water supply agencies
    routinely test and treat water before supply to the community, but is rarely within the technical
    or financial capabilities of individuals.

19. Laboratory data should be compared against national water quality guideline criteria (see
    references below) to check if the water source is suitable for an intended use. These criteria
    vary depending on what the water is used for. There are separate tables and guidance
    statements available to cover the following water uses:
    a. human drinking water;
    b. livestock water supplies;
    c. irrigation of plants;
    d. recreation or bathing contact;
    e. ecosystem support, eg in the natural environment or aquaculture ponds;
    f.   industrial materials processing; and
    g. aesthetic needs such as in ornamental pools or flushing of toilets.                         6 of 13 pages                      Private drinking water supplies
Water quality criteria
20. Detailed guidance on water quality is given in the following National Water Quality
    Management Strategy documents, which should be available via library services or the Internet
    (see Appendix A reference 2):
    a. Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2004;
    b. Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality 2000; and
    c. Australian Guidelines for Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting 2000.

21. Supporting information on water quality (see Appendix A) is also available via:
    a. Australian Standard 5667, Water quality sampling;
    b. American Public Health Association, American Water Works Association, Water
       Environment Federation, Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater;
    c. Department of Water’s Perth Groundwater Atlas.

What can be done to protect private water supplies?

22. Draw water from a site away from potential sources of contamination.
    Place sewage systems (eg septic tank/ leach drain systems), fuel and chemical holding tanks/
    stores, waste dumps, animal holding areas, intensive cropping sites and mechanical equipment
    servicing areas as far away as practical from where any water supply is collected. Drinking
    water supply sources should be at least 100 metres away from potential contamination
    sources, and preferably located upstream of possible contaminant sources.

    The Department of Environment has a database showing a number of sites where activities
    have historically occurred that may have contaminated soils or nearby groundwater, see web
    page, select Contaminated sites.

23. Maintain well-vegetated native vegetation buffers around surface water sources.
    Vegetation buffers assist in filtering stormwater run-off prior to its entry into surface water
    sources. For more information, see the Department of Water’s Water Quality Protection Note
    Vegetated buffers to sensitive water resources.

24. Ensure safe water supply bore construction
    Bore construction should follow the recommendations given in national guidance booklet
    Minimum construction requirements for water bores in Australia. It is particularly important to
    place a seal around the top of bore casings to prevent entry of any contaminated surface water
    and ensure the bore-head (if practical) is located above any historical flood level.

25. Avoid applying or disposing of industrial chemicals near any water source
    Cleaning and servicing of vehicles, and dumping of wastes eg paints, oils or solvents in
    sensitive areas can cause water resource contamination as residues move through the soil.
    Rainfall or stormwater may also wash contaminants from the soil surface into the resources
    from where water is drawn. It is good practice to carefully follow chemical supplier’s guidance
    labels and use chemicals well away from watercourses, streams, wetlands and land subject to
    flooding. Bypass drains should be used to divert stormwater run-off from contaminated areas
    away from water supply sources.

26. Apply garden and agricultural chemicals sparingly and carefully
    Fertiliser and pesticides should be applied as advised on manufacturer’s material safety data
    sheets, supplier’s recommendations on chemical containers and a well considered Nutrient and
    Irrigation Management Plan. Excessive or poorly-timed use of horticultural chemicals (eg
    during wet weather) can harm the value of water resources.                         7 of 13 pages                     Private drinking water supplies
27. Use best practice stormwater management
    The quality of the rainwater which is not captured for domestic use, can be protected via
    appropriate best practice stormwater management. Water from small to moderate rainfall
    events should be encouraged to soak immediately (where practical) into porous soils to reduce
    the risk of drainage waters contaminating remote aquifers. Potentially contaminated stormwater
    eg from paved areas where chemical residues or animal wastes may be present, should not
    discharge directly into surface water bodies, except during major storm events.
    For additional information on stormwater management see the Department of Environment’s
    Stormwater Management Manual for Western Australia, 2004.

28. Avoid disturbing or draining wetlands.
    Wetlands are often a reservoir of acid-sulphate soil that can release dilute sulphuric acid into
    groundwater if water tables are lowered or saturated acid sulphate soil is exposed to air. Acidic
    groundwater can mobilise metals in the environment with potential hazardous effects. In severe
    disturbance cases, groundwater becomes too acidic for farm water supplies or irrigation use.

29. Recycle waste materials
    Dispose of metals, waste chemicals, used oils, tyres and batteries, containers and packaging
    at approved facilities. Contact your local government council for a nearby waste-handling site.

30. Store water supplies for an extended period in a tank or dam before use
    Extended storage allows sediment to settle. Open storage allows ultraviolet light plus oxygen
    to assist natural disinfection processes, however algae may be a problem if the water contains
    nutrients. Water storage also dilutes chemical residues from spills or contamination incidents.

31. Clean-up any spilt chemicals
    This should be done immediately before they wash or leach into the surrounding environment.
    Residues should not be hosed into drainage systems.

32. Join or form a local catchment management group
    This fosters community understanding, and provides an issues and advocacy forum for local
    water resource protection needs.

What are the options if a private water supply is contaminated or at risk?

33. Stop using any water source where harm could result
    Draw water from an alternative local source, cart water from a safe water supply source, collect
    water from roof top catchments into storage tanks or use commercial bottled water supplies for
    drinking. Drinking untreated surface water and groundwater may be harmful, especially if
    microbes or chemicals that can cause health problems are present.

    Where drinking water may be contaminated by micro-organisms, boiling the water or using
    water purification tablets before use may be effective. If in doubt, seek advice from local health

34. Attempt to determine the cause of any water source contamination
    Contamination may arise from a single source, such as an industrial chemical spill or diffuse
    sources arising from the inappropriate use of agricultural chemicals within the water catchment.
    Where severe water contamination may be present, seek assistance from a person qualified
    and experienced in environmental matters. Some guidance may be available from your local
    Council’s Environmental Health Officer, local catchment management groups or State agencies
    eg the Departments of Agriculture, Environment, Health, or Water; and the Fire and Emergency
    Services Authority. The Internet or your local library can also provide helpful information.                         8 of 13 pages                      Private drinking water supplies
35. Negotiate with those operating the contamination source
    If you are able to trace the contamination back to its source, contact the people believed to be
    creating the contamination problem (if practical). If neighbours are suffering similar problems to
    yourself, it may be helpful to form an action group and appoint a negotiator. Carefully note the
    harm being caused, discuss practical means that may limit release of pollutants to the
    environment, and suggest measures that will be of benefit to all parties. This may help resolve
    the matter before intervention is needed via community representatives, regulatory agencies or
    resorting to the courts.

36. Treat the water to remove contaminants
    This is an issue requiring professional skills and experience. Suitable treatment may involve
    filters, biological stabilisation and settling, chemical dosing, aeration and disinfection or even
    advanced treatments such as reverse osmosis or ion exchange. Selection of a suitable
    treatment system requires extensive research or advice from water treatment experts. Such
    systems require regular ongoing monitoring for optimum performance and effectiveness.

    Ongoing efficient water treatment (apart from filtration and disinfection) is normally beyond the
    practical capability of most water users, hence treatment is normally restricted to water
    agencies and commercial firms employing specialist personnel. Where pool chlorine
    (hypochlorite) is used to eliminate bacteria and viruses, a minimum free chlorine residual of half
    a part per million should be present 30 minutes after treatment.

    An excessive chlorine residual (above two parts per million) will make water unpalatable and
    possibly harmful, especially if it reacts with organic residues in the water. Photometric testing is
    considered best practice for accurately determining chlorine residuals.

What can be done and who pays if water sources become contaminated?
In Western Australia, there is presently limited support available to people whose private water
sources have become contaminated. To achieve a detailed understanding of the quality of all water
sources across the State would require an enormous commitment to water sampling and analysis,
and would not provide a guarantee that untreated water taken from the environment would be
continuously safe for various uses. New forms of funding such a scheme (eg increased taxes)
rarely find favour in the community when there are viable cost-effective alternatives.

37. Pollution of waters should be reported to the Department of Environment. There are laws
    against deliberate and accidental pollution, and that department may be able to take action to
    stop a point source of contamination eg illegal pollutant dumping, poor chemical management
    practice or leakage from chemical storage facilities.

38. Despite court action being successful, contaminants may still remain in the environment long
    after the source is removed and continue to present problems to water supplies. The
    Environmental Protection Act 1986 presently has limited provisions for directing and
    supervising clean-up of contaminated waters.

39. When this note was published, proposed legislation regulating the classification and clean-up
    of contaminated sites had not been enacted. Section 130/1 Riparian Rights under the Health
    Act 1911 may be used by local government to control pollution within surface water systems.
    State agencies may assist via guidance and mediation to resolve disputes (within constraints
    imposed by their responsibilities, priorities and available resources).

40. Apart from seeking action by Department of Environment under available statutory powers,
    people with polluted water sources may seek remedies via civil action in the courts. A court
    may order that a proven polluting activity be stopped, environmental clean-up measures be
    carried out by the polluter and/ or award the person with the polluted water source
    compensation for the damage to the source and for any harm to the person or their property.                          9 of 13 pages                       Private drinking water supplies
    Such actions if contested are normally time-consuming, involve data gathering to support legal
    argument and have an uncertain outcome. The costs of such action may need to be borne by
    the complainant.

41. Owners of water sources with suspect quality (using expert assistance) will normally need to:
    a. Establish what contaminants are present and at what concentration (via water sampling
       and analysis).
    b. Demonstrate the path between their water supply problem and any neighbouring source of
       pollutants. This may involve an expert study of how water moves in the local environment,
       and accurate records of observation (if practical) of the actions of the person thought to be
       causing the problem. This may be difficult if the contamination source is widespread or
       occasional eg from agricultural chemicals applied to land on a number of sites.

42. When contamination arises from multiple sources eg salinity or excess nutrients in a
    catchment, it is probably best to join (or start) a local community action group. Groups of
    people with similar problems or concerns may use their combined knowledge, resources and
    influence to secure an acceptable outcome.

43. Pipework and water outlets that may not meet drinking water guideline criteria and could be
    mistaken for drinking water supplies should be colour coded purple and warning signs eg
    “Unsafe water, do not drink” or an explanatory pictogram prominently displayed.

Where can I get information on recommended practices to protect water resources from
harmful human activity?
44. This Department is progressively preparing a community information advice eg brochures and
    Water Quality Protection Notes. These cover land use activities that are common in catchments
    where water supplies are drawn, and activities that may cause harm to waters if poorly
    managed. Examples of notes available are: Aquaculture, Mechanical equipment wash-down,
    Nutrient and irrigation management plans, and Ponds for stabilising organic effluent.

45. Environmental Guidelines and codes of practice are also being prepared in partnership with
    other resource management agencies and industrial activity associations. Multi-agency
    guidelines or codes presently available include Cattle feedlots, Dairies, Horse activities, Mining
    and Mineral Processing, Piggeries, Poultry farms and Underground fuel tank removal. Copies
    of these notes and guidelines are available from Internet site (see section overleaf- More
    Information) or our offices.

Key message
Both groundwater and surface water will generally contain dissolved minerals and chemicals, and
sometimes microbes, some of which may pose a risk to your health and comfort, or be unfit for an
intended use. You should always obtain your drinking water from a safe source (preferably treated
and tested) where its quality should continuously meet health-related drinking water criteria. If you
are in doubt, than you should take appropriate precautions by testing your water supply and getting
expert advice.

More Information
We welcome your views on this note. Feedback provided on this topic is held on our file no.13642.
To comment on this note or for more information, please contact the Water Source Protection
Branch at our Atrium office in Perth. Phone: (08) 6364 7600 (business hours); fax: 6364 6525 or
contact us via E-mail Drinking Water at our Internet site, citing
the topic and version.

This note will be updated periodically as new information is received or industry/activity standards
change. Updates are placed on our Internet site, select Publications> Water Quality Protection
Notes.                         10 of 13 pages                     Private drinking water supplies
For our regional office contact details, visit our Internet site at, see listings
under Contact us, use the phone book or contact our head office (details below).

In October 2005 the State Government announced the formation of the Department of Water. In
January 2006 the Department of Water assumed primary responsibility for managing the State’s
water resources. Once the Department of Water has been legally established, it will replace many
of the present functions of the present Water and Rivers Commission and operate in parallel (with
separate powers) to the Department of Environment. The custodian and recommendations made
in this note will then change to match the assigned responsibilities of the Departments of
Environment or Water.

                  Telephone: (08) 6364 7600                         Telephone: (08) 6364 6500
                   Facsimile: (08) 6364 7601                         Facsimile: (08) 6364 6525
                      Floor 4, The Atrium                               Floor 4, The Atrium
                 168 St Georges Terrace Perth                      168 St Georges Terrace Perth
                    Western Australia 6000                            Western Australia 6000


Appendix A. - References and further reading
1. World Health Organisation- Sobsey M., Water, Sanitation and Health, Dept of Protection of the
   Human Environment, Managing Water in the Home: Accelerated Health Gains from Improved
   Water Supply, 2002.

2. National Water Quality Management Strategy documents
   a. Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, 2000;
   b. Australian Guidelines for Water Quality Monitoring and Reporting, 2000;
      see the web page
   c. Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, 2004;
      see web page

3. National Environmental Health Council
   Guidance on the use of rainwater tanks, 2004
   see web page pubs/documents/rainwater_tanks.pdf.

4. Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council
   Minimum Construction requirements for water bores in Australia, 2003
   see web page

5. Standards Australia
   AS/NZ 5667 Water quality sampling
   AS 2070    Plastic materials for food contact use
   AS/NZ 3500 Plumbing and drainage-water services.
   AS/NZ 4348 Domestic type water treatment appliances-performance requirements
   see web page

6. United States of America standards
   a. ANSI/NSF Standard 53 Drinking water treatment units-health effects
      see web page                             11 of 13 pages                    Private drinking water supplies
    b. American Public Health Association, American Waterworks Association, Water
       Environment Federation (APHA,AWWA,WEF)
       Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater
       see internet site

7. Australian Bureau of Meteorology
   Climate data for Western Australia:
   see web page .

8. Institution of Engineers Australia
   Australian Rainfall and Runoff
   see web page

9. Department of Health, WA
   a. Australian Food Standards Code;
   b. Guidance on use of rainwater tanks;;
   c. Monitoring drinking water;
   d. Nitrate in drinking water;.
   e. Standard water sampling techniques;.
   f. Using bore water safely; and
   g. Water filters;
   select Food safety or Water safety at web page,

10. Department of Agriculture, WA
    Farmnote series:
    No 42/2004 Clearing cloudy or discoloured water;
    No 43/2004 Water quality for farm domestic and livestock use; and
    No 44/2004 Emergency chlorination of farm water;
    see web page

11. Department of Water (WA)
    a. Water quality protection notes:
        • Community drinking water sources
        • Vegetation buffers to sensitive water resources
        • Water supplies (non-potable) for rural lots
        see web page select Publications >Water Quality
        Protection notes.
    b. Perth Groundwater Atlas
       see web page select Data > Perth Groundwater Atlas
       or Hydrogeological Atlas.

12. Department of Environment (WA)
    a. Water Notes
       No.4 Wetland buffers;
       No.18 Livestock management – fence location and grazing control; and
       No.23 Determining foreshore reserves;
       see web page, select Publications>Fact sheets.
    b. Stormwater Management Manual for Western Australia 2004;
       see web page                       12 of 13 pages                   Private drinking water supplies
Appendix B - Statutory requirements and approvals relevant to this note include:
What is regulated                Statute                          Regulatory agency
Development approval for land    Town Planning and                Local Government Authority
use activities                   Development Act 1928             (Council)
Impact on the values and         Environmental Protection Act     Minister for the Environment
ecology of the environment       1986, Part III Environmental     advised by the Environmental
including waters                 Protection Policies              Protection Authority
                                 Part IV Environmental Impact
Licensing, works approvals and   Environmental Protection Act     Department of Environment-
registration of prescribed       1986, Parts V Environmental      regional office
premises; pollution abatement    Regulation,
                                 Part VI Enforcement
Licence to use surface water     Rights in Water and Irrigation   Department of Water-regional
and groundwater from             Act 1914                         office
proclaimed areas and all
artesian bores
Development and operations in    Metropolitan Water Supply,
Public Drinking Water Source     Sewerage and Drainage Act
Areas                            1909
                                 Country Areas Water Supply
                                 Act 1947
Safety of community water        Health Act 1911                  Department of Health–
supplies                                                          Environmental Health Branch
                                                                  Local Government (Council)                      13 of 13 pages                  Private drinking water supplies

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