Recreation in Catchments; what do we know already?

March 23, 2018

Do you give a dam? Following the change of political party at the state election in March this year, we will see reservoirs across the nation being opened for recreational activities in a bid to boost tourism numbers in regional towns.

Recreational use of catchments is an important issue. To support our members nationally, we have some resources to help inform / arm you in the event of reservoir and catchment openings for public use


Some key resources for information on Recreational Access include the CRC for Water Quality and Treatment Research Reports #24 and #78 which can be accessed in the links below:


#24 Recreational Access to Drinking Water Catchments and Storages in Australia

#78 Risk Assessment for Drinking Water Sources


There is considerable variation in the levels of access permitted in water supply catchments, with entirely closed catchments at one end of the scale, and at the other, recreational activities permitted in both the water supply reservoir and within the catchment lands.

The report above (#24) proposes a decision making framework for those faced with the challenge of deciding whether or not to permit recreational access, and the nature of activities being permitted. The report is limited to consideration of drinking water supply issues, although it is noted that there are a range of other factors, eg. ecological impacts, security concerns and legal impacts. 

The qualitative cause and effect conceptual relationships between recreational access and impacts on water quality are now well established. However, there still remains limited quantitative data on the impact of any particular type or level of recreational activity on drinking water quality. 

The CRC Project report (#24) proposes a precautionary approach whereby the ecological integrity of Australia's remaining conservation and wilderness are protected and the quality of the yielded water is secured.


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