Water source quality

Source water quality protection is about ensuring that the water in our catchments, rivers, and groundwater reserves is of the highest quality practicable. It is the first step in providing a multi-barrier approach in protecting water quality in its journey from the catchment to the customer’s tap.

It involves activities such as:

  • regular catchment inspections and hazard reports
  • reviews of potential risks to source water
  • responding to emergency incidents that pose contamination risks
  • remote sensing
  • catchment modelling
  • minimising stock access to source water
  • controlling public access to source water
  • providing appropriate signage
  • conducting patrols
  • fire prevention and fire suppression activities
  • consideration for sediment and nutrient impacts in land use management decisions
  • incorporating water quality considerations into catchment planning and policy

Our program for source water quality protection has a strong focus on the establishment of well-formulated procedures and practices to ensure adequate monitoring, protection, risk identification and response measures are in place.

Blue-green algae

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria known as Cyanobacteria. Blue-green algae are a natural part of the freshwater environment, but despite being called algae, have only a few things in common with algae e.g. they photosynthesise using light to produce oxygen and need sunlight to grow.

When blooms of blue-green algae occur they interfere with other uses of the water, can affect people’s health and have consequences for the environment and the economy.

Algae blooms affect water quality by changing taste, odours, and appearance. Large blooms can affect water-based leisure activities such as fishing and swimming.

Once blooms subside, decaying algae can reduce the oxygen levels in the water, damaging environments and the animals they support. During periods of drought, algal blooms can be particularly harmful to already struggling environments.

Some species produce toxins, that when ingested, can cause liver damage, stomach upsets and disorders of the nervous system in people. Direct contact with lots of blue-green algae can cause skin and eye irritations.

Algae can also have effects on livestock causing illness or occasional death and there is evidence it can poison wildlife and domestic pets.

For more infoirmation visit the DELWP website.

Health warning

The public is warned not to swim in and to avoid any direct contact with blue-green algae affected water.

Direct contact with blue-green algae can cause allergic reactions such as skin rashes or itchiness; sore eyes ears and nose or if swallowed gastroenteritis, nausea or vomiting.

People who come in to contact with contaminated water should wash immediately in fresh water. Seek medical advice if experiencing illness after contact with BGA affected water.

Any fish harvested from BGA affected water should have gills and guts removed prior to cooking. People should not eat whole fish, or shellfish or crustaceans collected from affected water.

Water from the affected water body should not be used for drinking, cooking or other domestic uses. Boiling the affected water will not make it safe for use.

For any health issues experienced after contact with BGA affected water please seek medical advice immediately.

Irrigators are encouraged to take extra care to avoid spray drift, the pooling of water and inhaling mist from BGA affected water. Affected water should not be sprayed onto leafy vegetables or, florets or allowed to flood pastures.

Animals and or stock should be prevented from drinking or having direct contact with contaminated water.

For more information please contact Central Highlands Water on 1800 061 514.