Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
WATER APRIL 2013 92 Feature Article Petroleum and DEC to provide input into the management of fraccing activities within water resources. There are long-standing and effective working arrangements in place with these agencies, but the Corporation has the greatest level of knowledge regarding management of impacts to water quality at an operational level. The Corporation is currently examining its risk assessment approaches to include fraccing in order to better manage and prevent contamination of public groundwater supplies. Working in close conjunction with industry and government on fraccing regulation and policy will enable drinking water-speci c concerns to be raised and appropriately addressed using a proactive approach. The Corporation's source protection strategies have also been tested by the challenges presented by a changing climate. The winters of 2011 and 2012 were the driest on record, and several catchments in the state, notably in the south-western corner of WA, experienced reduced rainfall capture. A number of drinking water supplies have been augmented by short-term sources. Alongside water ef ciency efforts, source protection measures at existing drinking water catchments are even more crucial when faced with the threat of a drying climate. IMPLEMENTATION OF ADWG 2011 -- OBSERVATIONAL MONITORING The release of ADWG 2011 sees a move away from compliance monitoring and a focus towards the use of short-term and long-term evaluation of water supplies. ADWG 2011 includes a framework for observational monitoring as part of the overall operation of a water supply system. In terms of source protection, observational monitoring includes activities such as microbiological (E. coli) monitoring, routine catchment surveillance and inspections, which have historically been carried out at most catchments throughout WA. The observational monitoring approach described in ADWG 2011 includes assigning targets against which observational data can be assessed, implementing operational responses (corrective action) for abnormal conditions, as well as feeding back these results into the risk assessment and review process. Setting targets for catchments in WA is a challenging task, with dif culties arising from the diversity of the types, locations, remoteness and differing climates of catchments managed by the Corporation. It is not always evident whether the level of activity in a catchment is normal or abnormal, or whether it is acceptable or unacceptable, if the comparison must be made across all catchments (i.e. taking a 'one size ts all' approach), rather than being assessed individually. Historically, catchments in WA have been assessed individually through intrinsic knowledge of the catchment combined with the results of surveillance reporting. The Corporation is currently working towards setting 'in speci cation/out of speci cation' limits for activities in catchments that pose the greatest risk to water quality. By comparing observational data to historical surveillance and water quality monitoring, it will be easier to determine when activities are outside the 'norm' for a speci c catchment, and when an operational response (e.g. additional surveillance) must be triggered. As the Corporation shifts towards a target-based approach it will need to mimic and enhance the outcomes provided through current process. With catchment activity being a key driver in source risk classi cation, observational monitoring will provide a more robust process for not only assessing overall source risk, but also for providing a trigger for initiating a review of the risk assessment. CONCLUSION The Corporation's source protection measures are based on the ADWG principle of the primacy of drinking water over all other land uses. This model has stood the test of time. Its validity has been proven in the 2010 Parliamentary Inquiry into recreation and in the Corporation's learnings from actively implementing source protection measures over the last 10 years. The guiding document for the Corporation, the Source Protection Operations Manual (SPOM), has been effectively applied to a diverse range of sources throughout WA. Each source has its own unique challenges, however from our experience, a clear and consistent model based on the principles of the ADWG is effective in the management and protection of water sources in WA. Source protection is a key component of a multiple barrier approach in the provision of safe drinking water. By reducing the risk of contamination to sources, the Corporation has effectively contributed to the community's con dence in the provision of safe drinking water in WA, without the requirement for extensive treatment at most of our sources. As the Corporation moves forward it will seek to continuously improve its source protection processes to meet future challenges posed by emerging issues such as recreation within drinking water catchments, a drying climate and commercial fraccing activities. WJ REFERENCES Department of Health, Government of Western Australia (2012): Hydraulic Fracturing in the Onshore Gas Industry and Drinking Water. Available at www.public.health.wa.gov.au/ cproot/4474/2/Hydraulic%20fracturing%20 and%20drinking%20water.pdf. Last accessed January 2013. Department of Mines and Petroleum, Government of Western Australia (2012): Draft Western Australia's Onshore Unconventional Gas Development Framework. Department of Water (2012): Government of Western Australia. Operational Policy 13: Recreation Within Public Drinking Water Source Areas on Crown Land. Report 13, September 2012. Legislative Council, Western Australia (2010). Report 11 -- Standing Committee on Public Administration. Recreation Activities Within Public Drinking Water Source Areas. September 2010. NHMRC, NRMMC (2011): Australian Drinking Water Guidelines Paper 6 National Water Quality Management Strategy. National Health and Medical Research Council, National Resource Management Ministerial Council, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra. Recreational activities such as boating are only allowed in recreational or irrigation waterbodies.
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