Drinking water catchment management

A secure drinking water catchment is the first part of the multi-barrier approach to providing safe drinking water. A secure catchment:

  • is an effective natural barrier to contamination
  • will require less water treatment to remove or deactivate contaminants
  • will decrease the cost and risk associated with downstream treatment and maintenance

The “Source Water Protection Statement - Water Quality” (external site), prepared by the Catchment Management Specialist Network of the Australian Water Association, provides eleven principles for source water protection and seeks to set a future direction for preventive risk management while providing resilience to the entire water supply system.

The following case studies illustrate the importance of drinking water catchment protection:

Drinking water source protection plans

A drinking water source protection plan (DWSPP) is part of the drinking water quality management plan for a water supply system. The Department of Water WQPN 41: Private drinking water supplies (external site) outlines the important aspects and information in a DWSPP.

Full copies of the state’s drinking water source protection plans (reticulated drinking water schemes) and the “Strategic Policy Protecting public drinking water source areas in Western Australia” (external site) are available on the Department of Water (external site) website.

A list of Gazetted public drinking water source areas (external site) and land use compatibility tables for public drinking water source areas (external site) is also available on the same website.

An online mapping tool (external site) that locates public drinking water source areas in Western Australia is also available.

Hydraulic fracturing and drinking water sources

Hydraulic fracturing  is a method used to extract gas from onshore gas deposits such as: coal seams, shales and tight gas (deposits surrounded by rock/sand). If not done correctly, this process has the potential to contaminate surface and underground drinking water sources.

For further information refer to our hydraulic fracturing webpage and to the WA Government’s Hydraulic fracturing webpage (external site).

Should recreation be allowed in drinking water catchments?

Due to the risk of contaminating drinking water, unrestricted access to catchment areas is not supported.

For more information about the risks and the activities that are permitted please refer to: Recreational access to drinking water catchments (PDF 166KB) and also refer to “Operational Policy 13: Recreation within public drinking water source areas on Crown land” (external site), published by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation in 2019.

The use of herbicides in drinking water catchment areas

Herbicide use in proclaimed drinking water catchment areas are subject to control. Application of herbicides in these areas must comply with PSC 88: Use of herbicides in water catchment areas (PDF 116KB).

For information about understanding pesticide labelling, please refer to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) website (external site).

Last reviewed: 16-08-2023
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