Seqwater explains: Managing recreation while keeping our drinking water safe

Seqwater explains: Managing recreation while keeping our drinking water safe


Seqwater is one of the few bulk water providers in Australia that manages ‘open catchments’. That means we allow the community to enjoy recreation activites on the lakes that supply our region’s drinking water. With millions of people visiting our water storage lakes each year, recreation plays an important role in promoting healthy outdoor lifestyle and offers economic benefits to local towns around our lakes and catchments. Our challenge, is to provide a range of water-based and on-shore activities at our lakes and parks without compromising the health of catchments or the safety and quality of the region’s drinking water supply. Our key principles in managing recreation are as follows: • Making sure our drinking water remains safe. • Making sure those visiting our lakes and parks are safe. And finally, • Making sure that the permitted recreation activities are sustainable. Of course, we also have to make sure we manage recreation in a cost-effective way. Providing a range of recreation experiences is important to Seqwater. Some people enjoy more passive pursuits like bushwalking and fishing while others prefer more high-octane activities like water skiing. So how to we balance all of these factors? There are two key elements in determining what level of recreation is allowed at each lake. Firstly we look at the condition of the surrounding catchment and what activities – including industry and business – are already there and whether they impact on water quality. All drinking water catchments are different. and pose different risks to water quality. The second element is what the water treatment plant that is sourcing its water from the lake is capable of treating. Across South East Queensland, we have a range of different treatment plants designed to turn raw water into drinking water. These plants are of different ages and with varying treatment capabilities. The biggest threat to water quality are microorganisms. They are called pathogens . These pathogens include bacteria and viruses which can pose a significant public health risk. Our job is to manage this risk. Our water quality scientists look closely at the catchment conditions and treatment capability when assessing what recreation we can consider which does not place our drinking water at risk. Seqwater has invested in a range of studies involving some of Australia’s best water quality scientists and modelers. to better understand the condition of our drinking water catchments and the impact of recreation. Through this science-based approach Seqwater is able to balance maintaining the safety of our water supply while providing a wide variety of recreation. Just remember it’s YOUR drinking water you’re recreating in.

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