Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
WATER APRIL 2013 90 Feature Article the catchment's integrity. These measures help to strengthen the source protection processes in SPOM and, in turn, provide triggers to capture emerging challenges. INTELLIGENCE-BASED SURVEILLANCE Despite the application of active catchment management programs, illegal recreational activity still occurs within many catchments to varying degrees. This has prompted a move towards more intelligent deployment of resources to ensure the greatest value from eld operations. Covert infrared surveillance cameras and vehicle sensors have proven to be extremely useful, cost-effective tools in capturing additional data on catchment activity. Vehicle sensors, currently being trialled in some Perth catchments, have the ability to send an alert message to mobile phones when they have been activated. This allows for almost immediate action to be taken by Catchment Rangers. At present, the purpose of surveillance cameras and vehicle sensors is to provide supplementary information to frontline 'on the ground' surveillance carried out by Catchment Rangers, and allow for a more targeted use of these resources where it is required. The continuing aim of the cameras and sensors is to provide additional monitoring of anything that has the potential to contribute to the contamination or degradation of WA's drinking water sources. Examples range from capturing images of illegal entry to a catchment, to monitoring the effect of animal activity (e.g. feral pigs, birds) at a water source. EMERGING CHALLENGES Despite the outcomes of the Parliamentary Review of Recreation Activities within Public Drinking Water Source Areas (PDWSA) (Legislative Council, Western Australia, 2010), which concluded that dual use (recreation and drinking water supply) of catchments was untenable, there is still increased pressure from the public to access drinking water catchments for recreation purposes. Protected, natural catchments are in good condition and are, therefore, appealing to recreational groups and to the general public. Allowing recreation in a drinking water catchment greatly increases the risk of contamination of a drinking water source with pathogens, and would require the installation of additional water treatment. The requirement for additional treatment brings with it high nancial costs, which would not be required if a catchment remained protected from such activity. The cost associated with recreation in drinking water sources, which requires a multi-barrier pathogen removal process, entails a two order of magnitude increase in capital costs, along with the same increase in operational costs over the long term. A case study showed these capital costs for three existing PDWSA reservoirs in Perth would total over $400 million. Recreation activities within catchments are managed as per DoW's Operational Policy 13 Recreation within public drinking water source areas on Crown land (Department of Water, 2012), which allows for certain types of passive land-based recreation activities to occur in outer catchment areas, while restricting the types of activities that occur close to the source. The intent of allowing only passive activities in the outer catchment is to protect public health by maintaining the quality of water in public drinking water source areas to help ensure a safe, reliable, lower cost public water supply (Department of Water, 2012). The Parliamentary Review also produced balanced ndings in complete support for the Corporation's processes, the need to protect PDWSAs but also proactively develop recreational opportunities outside PDWSAs, deproclamation/abolition of unused PDWSAs and the formation of an inter-agency working group to help meet the needs of recreators. The Corporation has supported these outcomes and plays an active role on the inter-agency working group, with a focus on ensuring that protection of public health in drinking water catchments is paramount. An upcoming challenge is the use of hydraulic fracturing ('fraccing') to retrieve gas from underground shale and tight gas deposits. Fraccing at a commercial scale is still a relatively unknown land use activity in WA. WA contains vast reserves of these deposits, and it is estimated shale gas reserves make up about one- fth of the world's total reserves (Department of Mines and Petroleum, 2012). This is equivalent to a supply to 10 million customers for the next 20 years, and represents a major opportunity for the State's economy, as well as provision of energy to regional areas. It is widely considered that the numerous chemicals used in the fraccing process pose the greatest risk to the quality of groundwater due to their potential toxicity in drinking water (Department of Health, 2012). Once a groundwater source is contaminated, remediation can be near impossible and treatment is problematic as well as costly. There is also considerable uncertainty about the risks associated with waste disposal of fraccing water and dewatering critical future water resources, so management must be preventative and proactive. The Corporation is not a lead agency for the regulation of water resources in the state, and will therefore rely on working arrangements already implemented with DoW, DoH, the Department of Mines and Typical source protection signage in drinking water catchments in Perth Metropolitan Region (left) and regional Western Australia.
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