Water Journal June 1980

Page 1

! 1ssN 0310 - 0367



I Vol. 7, No. 2, June, 1980 Registered for posting as a periodical -

Category 'B '.


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EDITORIAL Chairman, C. D. Parker F. R. Bishop Mary Drikas E. A. Swinton T. M. Smyth B. S. Sanders Joan Powling T. Fricke W. Nicholson J. H. Greer W. E. Padarin B. J. Murphy P.R. Hughes J. Bales H. Wilson Editor: Publisher: A.W.W.A. G. R. Goffin

. BRANCH CORRESPONDENTS CANBERRA A.C.T. W. E. Padarin, P.O. Box 306, Woden, 2606. 062-81-9111 NEW SOUTH WALES T. M. Smyth, G. H. & D. Pty. Ltd., P.O. Box 219, Neutral Bay Junction, 2089. 02·908-2399 VICTORIA J. Bales, E.P.A., 240 Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, 3002. 03-651-4685

QUEENSLAND P. R. Hughes, P.O. Box 120, Kenmore 4059. 07•378•7455 SOUTH AUSTRALIA Mrs. M. Drikas, State Water Laboratories E. & W. S. Private Mail Bag Salisbury 5108. 08·258·1066 WESTERN AUSTRALIA C. M. ·Tucak, 18 Ventor Ave., W. Perth 6005 09'-321-2421


ISSN 0310 0361

Officitl Journal of the


CONTENTS Editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Association and IAWPR News


Water Quality of the Murray - D. M. Coucouvis


Water Quality Information - Influence on Resource Management - T. D. Waite, W.A.E. Graham and W. M. Drew


'Christmas at the Office' - Allan Burnet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Domestic Septic Tanks Near Perth - Expected Life of Effluent Disposal Systems - B. A. Carbon and A. M. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Water Quality - Effects on Public Health - A. J. McMichael........... . .....................


Conference Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Letters to Editor, Book Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




R. Camm, C/· Met. Water Board, Macquarie St., Hobart. 002·30·2330

Members and others are Invited to submit articles or proposals for such for publlcatlon In this Journal. Articles should be of orlglnal thought or reports on original work of Interest to the members of the A.W.W.A. In the range of 1000 to 5000 words and accompanied by relevant diagrams or photographs. Full Instructions are

NORTHERN TERRITORY H. Wilson, Water Div. Dept. of Transport & Works, P.O. Box 2520, Darwin NT 5794. 089·81·2450

available from Branch Correspondents or the Editor . CSIRO style Gulde will assist.

EDITORIAL & SUBSCRIPTION CORRESPONDENCE G. R. Goffin, 7 Mossman Dr., Eaglemont 3084, 03·459-4346 ADVERTISING Mrs. L. Geal, Appita, 191 Royal Pde., Parkville 3052. 03·347•2377



COVER STORY Completed in just 12 months from start of design work to admission of sewage, Raymond Terrace Wastewater Treatment Works is the first municipal plant in New South Wales to use the Carrousel system . The design is based on extended aeration oxidation ditch principles, and uses vertical shaft aerators to induce circulation as well as provide the necessary oxygenation input. Initial design capacity is 16000 ep, and this will later be extended to 24000 ep by adding one further aerator and clarifier. Hunter District Water Board appointed Envirotech Australia to design the works and provide project management services. Sinclair Knight and Partners were engaged as consultants, and the main construction contract was let to Civilbuild Pty. Ltd. Total construction cost was $1. 17 M.


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"Tothink, this simple oxygen process can help eliminate problems of odour and corrosion in sewerage $YSlem!;.:sor)u/iusSumn~rMiiler The problem of foul odours and corrosion in sewer mains is nothing new. But it has been on ly recently that man has come t o grips with these two re lated problems. Until now, various chem ica ls have been used to help eli m inate the odour . Unfortunately, these are costly, and produce a more diffi cult-to-treat sew age. However, now there has been a majo r breakthrough . It comes in the form of an exciting revolutionary process ca lled CIG Sewe r Sweetening . It's simple, effective and extreme ly econom ica l. Basica lly it invo lves the injection of pure oxygen into the sewer mains. This allows the oxygen breathing (aerob ic) sewage bacteria, w hi ch is normal ly sta rved of oxygen in enclosed conditions, to active ly contin ue to break down the o rganic content

w ithout the excess presence of hydrogen sulphide. And oxygen dosi ng is not expensive. Costs per kilolitre are genera lly around half the cost of chemical oxid ising or sterilising agents . Deve loped in Australia for Austra lian condition s, SE WER SWEETEN ING is a natural so lution to a natura l problem. Already there are many successfu l installations throughout Austra li a and many councils who w ill readi ly confirm its effectiveness . For more information write to CIG Limited, 138 Bourke Road, Alexandria NSW 2015 .

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FEDERAL PRESIDENT A . Pettigrew, P.O . Box 94, Rocklea, 4106. FEDERAL SECRETARY P. Hughes, Box A232 P.O. Sydney South, 2000. FEDERAL TREASURER J. H. Greer, C/- M.M .B.W., 625 Lt. Collins St., Melbourne, 3000.

BRANCH SECRETARIES Canberra, A .C .T . D. Coucouvinis, C/- River Murray Commission, .P.O. Box 409, Canberra City, 2601. (480-177) New South Wales R. M . Lehman, Sinclair Knight & Partners, 2 Chan dos St., St. Leonards, 2065. (439-2866) Victoria R. Povey, S.R.W .S.C ., Operator Training Centre, P.O. Box 409, Werribee, 3030. (741-4171) Queensland J. Ryan, C/- Gutteridge Haskins and Davey, G.P.O . Box 668K, Brisbane, 4001. (221-7955) South Australia A. Glatz, State Water Laboratories, E. & W.S. Private Mail Bag, Salisbury, 5108. (258-1066) Western Australia C. M. Tucak , 18 Ventnor Ave., West Perth, 6005. (321 -2421) Tasmania P.E. Spratt, C/- Fowler, England & Newton, 132 Davey St., Hobart, 7000. (237-591) Northern Territory K . Sajdeh, Water Div. Dept. of Transport & Works , P.O. Box 2520, Darwin, N.T . 5794. (895-511) WATER

MANAGEMENT OF THE MURRAY Everyone must agree that this a critical phase in the life of that great national asset, the River Murray. The conservation of water and regulation of the River for irrigation have undoubtedly created enormous benefits but also have led to many diverse and complex ¡ problems of river management. The problems are increasing under the continuing pressures from irrigators for more water and from the general community for greater use of the River for other purposes. In the future, there will be need for compromise in attempting to resolve these conflicts. The interests of irrigators in the upper reaches of the River may be opposed to those of their colleagues downstream who, in the face of higher salinities, would like increased dilution flows . In this way, they may well wish to take the immediate benefits of reduced salinity whilst risking a future shortage of water . The upstream irrigators , however, not being confronted with high salinities , see no benefit in risking reliability of supply for the sake of decreased salinities downstream. Another conflict exists between recreation and irrigation. As an example, the desirability of maintaining high and constant water levels in Lake Hume during the summer tourist season is at times at cross purposes with the operation of the Lake as an efficient irrigation storage. Irrigation needs may also be at variance with those of urban supply. In particular, the quality of supply in the lower reaches of the River may be at risk as a result of river regulation and diversion of water for irrigation upstream. There is a need to protect the environment and preserve the ecological status of the Murray. In many cases, this need conflicts with other requirements . For example, flood mitigation below Hume Dam may not be in the best interests of the extensive red gum forests between Tocumwal and Echuca. Any attempt at resolution of these conflicts requires judgments to be made concerning the proper allocation of water resources amongst the various competing uses. Correct decisions will be made more difficult by the incomplete knowledge of the inter-relationships between the River's behaviour, its environment and the effects of human activities. The issue is not simplified by the present diverse administrative arrangements for management of the River. It is not surprising that claims are often made that the management of the Murray has been largely fragmented and piecemeal. It was after consideration of problems such as ttfese that a Steering Committee of Ministers reported to the Federal Government and the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in 1975, recommending amongst other things that the role of the River Murray Commission in management of the Murray be broadened. This was agreed to in principle by the four Governments in respect of the water quality issue in particular, and an exchange of letters between the Premiers and Prime Minister in 1976 authorised the River Murray Commission to assume responsibility in this area pending the amendment of the River Murray Waters Agreement. This step will no doubt prove to be a vital one in the future management of the River and equally importantly shows the intent of the Governments concerned to squarely face the present and future problems of the River. T. A . O'BRIEN, President, River Murray Commission (Preliminary Advice)



Convention Secretary, 712 Murray St . , 6005 7


ASSOCIATION NEWS PRESIDENT'S REPORT PHILOSOPHIES AND FAIRY TALES Those who find Paradise are doomed!!! How many seek and dream of the common concept of Paradise? Utopia, filled with pleasure, contentment and ease, no work and no adversity - a constant delight without effort. ¡ Build "Paradise" from the ground up. Plant the flora to suit your taste, the lush grasses, the flowering shrubs, the tall stately trees. Add the necessary animal life - burrowing creatures to open the soil and aerate it; the ground mice, the Iittle marsupials, the kangaroos, and finally the birds to give sweet melody. Introduce the insects to maintain the foliage in controlled growth - and the fox, the powerful owl and the eagle to keep watch on the fauna. Enjoy the abundant fruits , melons, coffee, medicinals - all the selected food plant types and we will have "paradise" . Or will we?? The fact that the ecologically illiterate do not understand about this paradise is that it is a system - a delicate, inter-related system which, if thrown out of balance will slowly but surely collapse about man 's ears. This fairy-tale eco-system has natural in-built effort and adversity essential to its functioning. "Man" as part of nature cannot be static. He either develops or regresses. His abilities when not used, weaken and deteriorate. Thus with our man in paradise, without the stimulus of effort he quickly dies . And where lies the demand for man's greatest effort but in the control and balance of the essential common denominator - water? As our world develops, water demand becomes more critical Unlike energy resources, water nas no substitutes. Acceptable water where we want it requires effort - at times a great deal of effort. Unlimited water is not a birthright. Science fiction has a habit of being prophetic. In the middle future the control of the world may well be not by the wealthy, the political, the extremists or lobbyists, but by the availabi lity of water. He who controls water will influence the world . - a sobering thought and a heavy responsibility one demanding great effort. The Association in the future could well play a more vital role than any of our founders ever dreamed. 8

A fairytale come true in fact and time? Perhaps :- time will tell! But one fact is very certain - that we in A.W .W.A . will be forced to play our part. Let us trust that we are equal to the chall enge. Allan Pettigrew

1980 SUMMER SCHOOL REPORT An impressive array of sixteen speakers headed by Dr . Brian Commins and Prof . Kenneth Ives from the U.K . with Dr. Mike Taylor from N.Z. provided a most rewarding 'school ' and workshop series for eighty-seven registrants in Adelaide on the 4th to 8th February last at Flinders University . The School was officially opened by the Minister of Water Resources , the Hon. Peter Arnold and his very appropriate speech was followed by an address from Doug Lane our Federa l Vice-President. The programme benefitted from questionnaires circulated. after the preceding Schoo l in Hobart and emphasised school and workshop aspects with subdivision into five daily sub-themes: Water quality and aesthetics Water quantity Management, preservation and legislation Water treatment Wastewater treatment, effluent and re-use

'School' at Happy Valley Water Plant.

Dr. Commins commenced the technical sessions with a paper on the criteria used to derive for satisfactory standards for health and desirability and subsequently gave two other papers. He and Dr. David Garman of the N.S .W. Water Resources Commission, Dr. Commins held a daily workshop on the design and management of water quality assessment surveys. Professor Ives, is world renowned for his work on fi lter design and flocculation. He gave four papers to the school and with Ken Hartley of the E. & W.S. Department gave daily workshops on the removal of organic compounds from water. He also gave a public lecture on 'Dual Water Supplies'. Dr. Taylor is the Director of the National Water and Soils Conservation in N.Z. He presented three papers on water quality and the statutory basis of water pollution control in N .Z. He also presided over a daily' workshops on the design and management of impoundments for water quality control.

The balance of the lecturing team was drawn from a wide range of disciplines bacteriology, biology, chemistry, engineel'ing , medicine and administration . Visit s were made to two E. & W.S. Water Plants to the State Water Laboratories , and of course, the Barossa . Who can visit South Australia without calling on the Barossa? The course attendance included well experienced and qualified personnel as well as the more junior. The organisation , standard of papers and lecturer contribution was first-class and the source of sincere congratulations to the South Australian Branch and the Summer School Steering Committee .

AWWA AWARD TO GEORGE GOFFIN The Council, on Victoria's recommendation has awarded a Serv ice Plaque and Honorary Life Membership of the Association to Mr. G. R. Goffin for his contribution and service to the Association and to the water supp ly and sewerage field . As a cadet and then assistant engineer, George served with the Sydney Board in both water supply and sewerage design and major construction and then moved into the private sphere with Consultants G.H. & D. primari ly engaged at that time upon extensive country water supply and sewerage work. Appointed to the Brisbane City Council in 1939 as Deputy Chief Engineer W.S. & S., he subsequently became Chief Engineer and Manager of the Department of Works with major responsibility for lar'ge scale rehabilitation of the City's water and sewerage systems during and after the last war, and all municipal work throughout the Greater Bris leane area . He was responsible for major departmental re-organ is ation and considerable innovation and pioneered the application of prestressed concrete design and construction techniques. From 1953 until retiring in 1976 he served with Humes Limited in the water, sewerage and structural areas of the Company with particular emphasis upon R. & D. aspects including the development of anti-H 2 S pipes and products. He occupied a number of senior technical posts and was General Manager, Technical at retir!;)ment . Joining the AWWA in 1966, George was a member of the Victorian Committee and became Branch President in 1970 and was a Federal Councillor until his ret irement from Council at the end of 1978. In both 1971 and 1972 he served as Federal President and contributed much to the Association and its establ ishment as a 'Registered ' organisation . Honorary Life Membership has been awarded in recognition of George's contribution to the Association and a Service Plaque to mark a long and distinguished career in the industry. WATER

TASMANIA The Branch is fol lowing the trend now popular in other States with a week-end Seminar on May 30th to June 1st when this issue is going to press. The venue, Swansea on the East Coast is a pleasant spot and has attractions for wives and families - an essent ial ingredient to successful incursions into week-end time. The topic for the Seminar, 'Water and Wastewater Discharge to Streams and Estuaries - Does it Affect the Environment and Aquatic Life?' is of perennial interest and the programme most attractive. A report on the week-end will be given in the September issue of Water with . full details. Speakers enlisted for the Seminar in c lude Dr. Nancy Millis (Melbourne), Dr. Edward MacArdle, State' Health Department and Mr. Rob Crooks of the Department of the Environment . Future programming for the Branch includes the AGM in September and In November a visit to Turiff Lodg e, New Wastewater Treatment Plant.

NO.RTHERN TERRITORY May ' activities included a family afternoon on the 25th which offered a mixture of the technical with social interchange - all combined with an opportunity for a picnic outing. The occasion was an inspection of McMinns pumping station and the reservoirs, fluoridation and chlorination facilities forming part of Darwin's Water Supply System. For the balance of the excursion, the Darwin River Dam picnic grounds provided a pleasant venue for the barbecue which is today a 'must' for any Australian outdoor gathering. The June meeting on the 4th featured a lecture by Bob Fry, Supervising Scientist of the Northern Territory's Alligator Rivers Uranium mining area. His subject was most topical and one attracting ever increasing attention on a world-wide basis - the role of the Supervising Scientist and Staff in coordinating and supervising activities for protection of the envi ronm ent, mine workers and the public, from destructive effects of uranium mining operations. Mr. Fry was with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission before his present appointment and his address reflected his extensive knowledge of the vital uranium field and th e justification of his reputation as an accomplished and interest ing speaker . In July, the Branch will be combining with the Northern Territory Branch of the I.E . Aust. for a lunch time joint meeting on flow measurement. The Annua l General Meeting and election of Officers for 1980/81 is also scheduled for that month .

WESTERN AUSTRALIA The Branch is al ready gearing up for the 1981 Federal Convention (Apri l 6-10) and the Organising Committee is in action under the chairmanship of Don Montgomery. Barry Sanders is Vice-chairman , Jim WATER

Paton will be looking after papers , Barry Robbins has the important aspect of social activities and Huey Rul e the tours and visits. Manufacturers exhibits will be coordinated by Bob -Simmel and Sustaining Members and others with a potential interest shou ld be moving now as interest is marked. With welcome co-operation , the W.A. Division of t he In st ituti on of Engineers (John Sullivan , Secretary) is acting as Conference Secretariat and as the Institution Conference in Perth last year broke all records, the AWWA event will have t he advantage of experie nced personnel with an outstanding track record. To whet (or should it be 'wet') the appetite of loca l members for AWWA activities , the Branch , on April 2nd, paid a visit to the new and impressive comp lex of Swan Brewery. About 50 enjoyed the inspection and the subsequent dinner - a good augury for 1981.

QUEENSLAND Inspired by the very successf~I Eighth Convention theme, the Branch Is 'moving into the eighties' with several country meeti ngs aimed at serving the large membership outside the Metropolitan area . Pursuing this object ive, President Allan Pettigrew gave an address on May 21st in Cairns and presented extracts of five papers from the Federal Convention, all on various aspects of sewage treatment. He had an interested aud ience of some sixty members and visitors and the response has generated hopes of form ing a sub-branch in Cairns where Henry Friend proposes to convene a meeting to this end. At the last Branch meeting, Dr. Ross Saddler, Biochemist from the Water Quality Council of Queensland spoke on a subject of great interest In Queensland and elsewhere 'The Bacteriology of Sulphide Generation in Sewers'. A well attended meeting attested to the Interest in the topic. For June , on the 25th, Mike Wilkie , Engineer in Charge of the Water Resources Commission Laboratory will be talking of "Experience with Wastewater in the Middle East". More of this in our next issue . The July meeting will be held concurrent ly with the AG M and Allan Pettigrew will deliver his Presidential Address and will be speaking on "Re-use of Industrial Abbatoir Waste". Both the Jun e and July meetings coincide with the Plant Operators Training Schools in Brisbane and trainees are invited to attend both meetings where Graduates from the 1979 Schools will receive their Certificates. For September 12th, the Branch proposes a Workshop entitled "Design Frontiers in Water and Wastewater Treatment". The venue will be the Q.I.T. Kindler Theatre in Brisbane and details w ill be available later. Enquiries shou ld be directed to the Queensland Branch Secretary, John Ryan. The Northern State is doing well and

showing significant membership increase both in the Country and City . Sustaining members now number twenty while ordinary. membership is increasing by some eight per month. (Other Branches, please note! Editor)


IAWPR's most imp--ortant event for 1980, the 10th International Conference at Toronto wi ll (June 23-27) be part of history when this issue reaches readers and we will be looking forward to first hand reports of the activities. The Conference programme included two papers by Australian authors, the first 'Some Factors Involved in the Occurrence and Limitation of Algal Blooms in an Australian Estuary' dealt with investigations at the Georges River in Sydney into the development and decline of mid-estuarine blooms. The paper, by C. Health , I. Sma ll s and D. Cannon, all of the M.W .S. & D. Board, Sydney, details studies directed to definition of the assim il ative capacity of the River in present and future circumstances . The authors found that the limitation and decline of blooms appears to be controlled, not by phosphorus or nitrogen limits but by other nutrients, light limitation and changing salinity. Colin Heath, Biologi~t of the Boards Operations Branch handled the presentation. The second paper 'Investigation into Sewage Grease Behaviour in Coastal Waters is the work of A. Davidson and J. Easey of the Australian Energy Commission, J. Varjavandi of Crooks Michell Peacock Stewart P/L and K. Warner of the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board and was presented by Keith Warner . The paper covers an investigation of the dispersal of sewage grease and oil retained in the sett led primary effluent and digested sludge discharged from the Sydney Board's water pollution control plant at Malaba~. . . After selective labelling using radioisotope gold-198, it was poss(ble to track effectively the grease fractions In the ocean, giving an in~ication of the extent to which these might contribute to the pollution of adjacent beaches. The investigation is directed to more complete understanding of the behaviour of sewage grease discharged into coastal waters which should lead to further reduction of beach pollution. IAWPR News draws attention to the 73rd Annual meeting of the American Inst. of Chemical Engineers, Nov. 16-20 in Chicago. The institute has programmed a large number of wastewater sessions and is now calling for papers. 9

SOUTH AUSTRALIA The Branch meeting on the 28th of March was addressed by two Melbourne visitors - Dr. A. J . Priestley of the CSIRO Division of cherriical Technology and Dr. P.R. Nadeba1,Jm of Davy Pacific Ltd. on 'The Sirofloc Process in Water Treatment'. Dr. Priestley began the meeting with a general description of the Sirofloc process which uses regenerable magnetic particles for the removal of colour and turbidity, using slides and with reterence to a continual pilot plant process and laboratory experimentatio n. His commentary included the problems encountered and the solutions found for these and the successful operation of the pilot plant at the M irrabooka Treatment Works Perth Water Board. Of special interest was the successful application of Sirofloc to the treatment of the waters froni the River Murray and the Happy Valley Reservoir. Dr. Nadebaum dealt with the history of the process since initial development from invention by the CSIRO early in 1977 through to commercial application proper. This necessitated step by step progress and the assembly of a balanced team to meet the developing requirements . He described the plant variations required for different water qualities and the modifications adopted to reduce capital and running costs . The paper was of considerable interest to Branch members , in view of Adelaide's water supply 'scene' and the discussion reflected this interest.

VICTORIA "Consumer Perception of Water Quality' was Peter Sommervilles ' topic for his talk at the March meeting when he outlined a preliminary survey for the M.M .B.W. of consumer attitudes to the quality of Melbournes water. The survey showed that the great majority of users were happy with the water quality but complaints received were frequently not a good guide to consumer concern . The importance of correct household plumbing practice was emphasised and, during questions, the problems presented by high rise buildings were highlighted . In April , at a joint meeting with the Environmental Branch of the I.E. Aust., Prof. Bill Williams of Adelaide and Dr. David Kay of the Victorian Ministry for Conservation reviewed the 'Toxicity of Wastewater Effluent' . Professor Williams outlined the various toxic chemicals encountered and stressed th e necessity for to xicity testing to assess the effects of effluents upon aquatic biota. Dr. Kay discussed the bio-assay laboratory established by the Ministry for the testing of to xi city to marine organisms and the facilities and staffing required . At the May meeting, Professor Frank Lawson of Monash gave a most interesting address on 'Water and Wastewater Problems in Mineral Processing'. Classifying the problems


under the headings " non-fermentable biologically inert materials" and " biologically toxic" such as copper, zinc and cadmium, he spoke of the approaches adopted in mining , mineral processing and in chemical treatment for concentration. Professor Lawson 's talk brought out the tremendous order of water volumes required and of wastes to be treated with, in many cases, current approaches that can only be regarded as interim measures. He stressed the necessity for skilled and careful storage and disposal of tai Ii ngs and the scope and necessity for aid to the smaller operator in the field . He concluded by describing a treatment process developed at Monash for the difficult problem of ilmenite leaching liquors in the titanium white pigment industry. In a two stage process, the first at 95°C and the second at 850°C, the method yields valuable recovery of sulphuric acid and high quality hematite pigment. For the June meeting on the 24th the subject will be 'Analysis Instruments for High Quality Water Testing', by John Alexander and on July 22nd , Dr. Barry Fish of the Health Commission will talk to the Branch on "Health Aspects of Water".

NEW SOUTH WALES The Branch Annual Regional Weekend Conference at Goulburn on March 7-9 was a great success due in large measure to the efforts of Dave Stevens, Hans Bendler and Peter Mitchell, organising committee for the event. The venue, the Goulburn College of Advanced Education catered well for the very considerable attendance, 55 members who, with their families swelled the total to an impressive 105. The Saturday was devoted to technical sessions . Len McDonald of the PWD covered "The Design and Conan s\ruction of the Pejar Dam" augmentation of Goulburn's water supply . 'The Use of Asbestos Cement in the Water and Wastewater Industries' provided an interesting paper by Peter Nixey of James Hardie & Company with an informative general coverage. David Philp of the Department of Housing and Construction (A.G.T.) covered the 'Commissioning of the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre' with particular reference to teething and over-liming problems this provided a most interesting commentary . Problems associated with the control of water pollution at the Woodlawn Mines and the solution of these were described by Richard Hammond, Environmental Officer to the Mines . Justin Taylor of Austec International spoke on the cyclical nature of the beef and meat industry and its impact on the attitude of abbatoir management in his paper 'Water and Wastewater Use and Treatment in Abbatoirs'. The Saturday inspection was of the new pipe plant of James Hardie at Moss Vale , where the Company and

staff was I iberal with attention and hospitality, which counteracted the drought- breaking del]ige of the day. The golf trophies were won (the report reads 'burgled') by Marie Mccann and Ian Hewitt, and at the Conference Dinner the Guest Speaker was Bruce Sinclair, President of I.E. Aust. On April 10th, John Blainey and Dave Garmen of the Water Resources Commission of N.S.W. presented to the Branch an up to the minute picture of the "Water Resources of the Hunter Valley" which forecast future demands and supply and discussed the use of salinity in tracing the complex variability of water quality in the region . For May , 'Several Aspects of Dams Safety with Particular Reference to Implications in N .S.W.' was the subject of a joint address given by Messrs . J . Messner, Chief Engineer PWD; R. Foster, Principal Design Engineer, W.R.C . and D. Anderson , Chief Engineer, Development, Hunter District Board . Mr. Messner described some activities of the N.S.W. Dams Safety Committee and Mr. Foster dealt with features of good design practice; Mr Anderson 's part of the presentation was dam surveillance and monitoring. Clive Houlsby of the W.R.C. just returned from the U.S.A. provided comment on readjustment within the old U.S.B.R . The Branch has a wine-tasting scheduled for June 20th when this issue will be going to press and the July programme includes a paper by R. Woolley of Brisbane on 'The Recovery of Alum at the Mt. Crosby Water Treatment Works'. At the A .G .M . on August 13 another Queensland paper will be given by J . G. Atherton on 'The Removal of Viruses in Water Treatment Processes'. The final social to'uch in N.S.Wale's busy year will be the Annual Dinner Dance on September 19.

, A.C.T. The Branch April meeting (21st) was addressed by Mr. Charles Stunkard of the Calgon Corporation , U.S.A. on 'Activated Carbon Applications in Water and Wastewater Treatment', a subject of particular interest in the A.C.T . where the dual filters are a feature of the Goolgong Water Treatment Plant. Mr. Stunkard directed his comments very much to the practical aspects o( the subject which resulted in useful discussion session. In May, on the 27th , Dr. Allan Wade of the Department of Health gave the Branch an interesting session on the recently released 'Desirable Quality for Drinking Water in Australia', the joint publication of the National Health and Research Council and the Australia Water Resources Council. The A .C.T. has a change in Councillor representation. Allan Harfield is scheduled for a very lengthy session at the C.P.S. Executive Development course and has to drop his AWWA activities. His place on Council will be taken by Ron Badger of the N.C.D.C . The Branch is most appreciative of the service given by Allan Harfield . WATER

WATER QUALITY OF THE MURRAY D. M. Coucouvis HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Some Early Observations of Water Quali ty on the Murray

Construction of th e Hum e Dam was compl eted in 1936, however, the upstream co ff er dam was removed and t_he diversion works were closed as earl y as Febru ary 1929. With the closure of th e diversion , th e reservoi r start ed to f ill and reach ed a temporary maximum sto rage of 150,000 Ml by November 1929. Thi s level was co ntro ll ed by a spec iall y maintained low section of th e co ncrete spill way. The following year, in th e River Murray Commi ss ion's Annual Report for 1929-30, an item appears und er th e headin g " Condition of Stored Wat er". " In mid-s ummer th e water in th e Hum e Re servo ir became badl y infec t ed with algae, whi ch cau sed an unpleasant tas t e and odo ur. Thi s was successf ull y overcome by treating th e st ored wat er w ith copper sulphat e, some twenty ton s bein g used. Th e in c rease in the depth of water in th e reservo ir, co nsequ ent o n t he rai sing of th e gap in th e spill way sec t io n of t he dam by th e extra 5 feet (t o R.L. 558). will , it is hoped, ass ist in th e preventi o n of a re curre nce of th e unpl easant co nditi ons thi s co min g summ er. In additi on, observati o ns are being made w ith a vi ew to early t reatm ent of t he wate rs should . any such rec urrence be indi cated." The co nditi o n of th e wat er in Hum e was close ly watched 1n sub sequ ent years and th e peri odi c res ug ence and dec lin e of algal g rowth s are faithfull y reco rd ed in t he Commi ss ion 's report s. By 1938, meas urements of salinity in th e Mu rray were record ed fo r th e f irst tim e and from 1939, regul ar o bservati o ns of turbidit y (as TSS), pH , salinity, and th e growt h of algae are record ed in th e Riv er Murray Commi ss ion annu al re ports. Th e Commi ssio n's in vo lvement with wat er quality did not ex t end beyo nd th is leve l except for th e co nso lidati o n over th e years on th e report ing of sa lini ty w hi ch provid es valu abl e and co nsistent stati sti cs. Earli er wate r quality data ex ists and is availabl e from a number of so urces. South Au st ra li a has co mprehensive earl y reco rd s dating bac k t o 1892. Th ese show th at durin g th e seve re dro ught of 1914/15, saliniti es in th e ri ver reac hed leve ls w hi ch have not bee n exceeded sin ce. OATE LOCATI ON 30 Apri l 1915 Berri 4 May 1915 Mo rgan 26 June 1915 Murray Bridge • determ ined as Total Solids

SA LI NITY · ppm 4138

5820 9460

Earl y reco rd s howeve r, are sparce and irreg ul ar. Systemati c sampling was o nly establi shed over th e period 1925 t o 1933. Th ese reco rd s are valu abl e in helping t o id entify fl aws in th e processes of co ll ect io n and archi val of data in th e plannin g of future data acqui siti on prog ramm es. The Role of the River Murray Commi ssion

Th e Riv er Murray Commi ss ion was fo rm ed t o g ive eff ec t to th e River Mu rray Wat ers Agree ment of Sep tember 1914, an in strum ent detail ing esse nti all y t he shari ng arran gements of Murray water by New So uth Wales , Vi cto ri a and So uth Au st rali a. Th e River Murray Waters Agreement has bee n amend ed a num ber of tim es sin ce th en an d th e powe rs it acco rd s t o th e Ri ve r Murray Co mm iss io n are bri efl y summ ari zed as :• Constru ct ion of ri ver co ntrol wo rks; • Reg ul at ion and co ntro l of th e f low of th e Murray and all ocati on of availabl e water fo r suppl y and irri gati on in acco rd ance with th e Agree ment ; • Meas urement of th e f low and di versio ns fro m th e Murray and all tribut ari es ; • Ini t iati o n of pro posa ls fo r be tt er co nservati on and reg ul ati on of Ri ve r Murray water; Mr. 'Jim ' Cou couvis is an engineer with th e River Murra y Commiss ion . Thi s is a condense d version of his pap er prese nted to th e A WWA Summ er School, Ade laide, Feb. 1980.


Oversee ing th e protect io n from eros ion of th e catchment of th e Hum e Reservo ir by the State Soil Conse rvati o n Ag enc ies. Note that in th e t erms of thi s Ag ree ment , th e Commi ss io n has no spec ifi c ro le in regard to wat er quality. Th e grow th of co ncern ove r wat er quality has so me parall els with th e ea rl y deve lo pment of th e Ag ree ment. Not surpri singly , it has bee n dow nstream users of th e River suc h as South Au stralia who have bee n mos t vocal abo ut equitable sharin g of th e water. Ori g inall y, South Au stralia 's c laim to th e water was based o n minimum needs t o maintain navigati on. Wh en Agreement was signed, th e importan ce of th e water had moved t o irri gati on and oth er co nsumpti ve uses. With a minimum all ocati on of wate r to So ut h Au strali a now f ixe d und er th e Agre ement , attenti o n was foc ussed, with in creas ing awareness, to th e qu ality of th e water suppli ed. Concern w ith wat er qu ali ty over th e rece nt years c ulminated w ith t he form ati on of a Minist erial Steering Co mmittee and Workin g Part y t o examine amo ng st oth er items, th e qu est io n of wa ter qu alit y management of th e ri ve r and th e ro le t hat th e Ri ver Murray Co mmi ss io n may have in thi s regard . Th e repo rt of t he Wo rkin g Party to th e Steering Committee was tabl ed an d publi shed in 1975. (1 ). Its recommendati ons in part pro posed th at th e Ri ve r Murray Wat ers Ag ree ment be amend ed to all ow t he Commi ss ion to:• Take acco unt of water qu ality in: - th e o perati on of it s wo rk s; - th e in ves tig ati o n of future proposal s for Ri ve r Murray Co mmi ss ion wo rk s; • Mo nit orin g wat er c: ualit y in th e Ri ve r Murray and its tribut ari es; • Ass um e t he fun cti o n of co-ordin atin g wat er qu ality and qu ant ity management of t he Ri ve r Murray, and • Make rep rese ntati ons to th e States o n wate r qu alit y iss ues. •

Som e Recent Developments

Th e recomm end at io ns of th e Working Part y we re agreed to in prin ciple by t he Co nt ract in g governm ent s via an exc hange of Premi ers' lett ers. To dat e, th e chang es to th e Agreement are not fi nali sed and leg islati ve act io n is pending . In t he int erim peri od, th e Commi ss ion has initi at ed a water qualit y mo nitori ng prog ramm e co mpri sin g a netwo rk of 32 stati o ns where so me 20 wat er qu"ality paramet ers are moni to red. (See later) Th e Commi ss ion has al so und ertaken · oth er inves ti gati o ns in li ne with it s pro posed ro le and long te rm aim s of c harac teri sin g water qu ality co nditi o ns in th e Murray and of identifyin g desi rab le water quality goa ls. AN OVERVIEW OF CURRENT WATER QUALITY IN TH E MURRAY Source s of Data

Th e Ri ve r Murray is mo nit ored for water qu ality by a number of aut hori t ies with in ev itabl e ove rl ap. Th e Albury Wodo nga Deve lo pm ent Corp o rati o n (AWDC) mo nitors th e upp er Murray as far downs tream as Yarrawo nga. Both t he Water Resources Co mmi ss ion of N.S.W . ·a nd t he Stat e Ri vers and Wat er Suppl y Co mmi ss ion of Vi cto ria monit or th e secti on o f t he ri ve r com mon to th ese two States , whil e t he En gi nee rin g and Water Supp ly Departm ent monit ors th e S.A. secti on of th e ri ve r dow nstrea m of Lock 9 (see Fi g. 1). Th e Au strali an Water Resources Co un c il is res po nsible for th e Nati o nal Water Reso urces Assess ment Prog ramm e whi ch in c lud es a number of Ri ve r Murray stati o ns. Th e Ri ve r Murray Co mmi ss io n's programm e in cl ud es stat io ns over th e who le lengt h of th e Murray and o n al l th e majo r tribut aries. (See Fi g ure 1) Relation ship to Other World Waters

Co mpariso ns be tween Au strali an and in parti c ul ar Mu rray water wi th ot he r world ri vers 1s of int erest. (Tabl e 1) 11

briefl y review it here for completeness. See Gutteridge Haskins and Davey (2) for a detailed account of the topic .

TABLE 1: Average comparison of World River Waters. (mg/L)

(a) (b) (c) ~d)


so 4

58 68 31 95 79 43 32 22 43 99 134 132 191 159

11 20 5 24 9 13 2 1 6 30 10 68 67 83


Ri ver World N. America S. America Europe Asia Africa Australia Murray (Albu ry) Murr;;y (Euston) Murray (Morgan) Nile (Cairo) Indus (Sukkur) Helmand (Iran) Rhine (Lobith)

(d) (d) (d) (d) (d) (d) (d) (b) (b) (b) (C) (C) (C) (C)




8 8 5· 7 9 12 10 5 42 114 11 17 40 210

15 21 7 31 18 13 4 2 10 18 21 28 40 83

4 5 2 6 6 4 3 2 7 15 9 9 20 12

Na 6 9 4 5


11 3 5 26 75 18 34 46 88

K TDSa 2 2 0 2 101

85 114 43 138

2 1 3 5


Salinity Profile of the River

An examination of water quality monitoring statistics from the River Murray Commission and the median conduct ivity levels of table 2 illustrates the progress ive increase of sa linity throug h the processes described above. Median salinities at Euston and Merbein are 250 and 340 EC units respectively. This increase is attributed to saline groundwater access ions and drainage returns . An est im ate of the salt flowing in to South Australia for an average year is some 1,1 00,000 tonnes. This is assessed to consist of:tributary inflows 600,000 tonnes drainage inflows 250,000 tonnes 250,000 tonnes groundwater inflows The summary statistics show extreme ly high salin ities (median value of 4600 EC) at Barr Creek which is the major " saline drain in the Kerang region. The composition of dissolved salts also changes progressively downstream. In the upper reaches of th e rive r, median ionic concentrat ions observed are:AT ALBURY



34 150 342 155 218 340 548

TDS nominal is derived from sum of total cations in milli equivalents multiplied by 60. Median values from River Murray Commission Monitoring Programme 1978-79. Gutteridge Haskins and Davey Report (2). Whitton (3). Includes K values .

From the tab le, it is evident that there are no marked differences between the Murray and other rivers wid ely used for irrigatio n. Australian waters show a relative ly higher concentration of chloride over bicarbonate and su lphate amongst the anions and a hig her relative concentration of sodium amongst the cations. Thi s is evid ent in the Murray figures which show a progressive dominance o·f ch lorid e and sod ium down the river. The relative abundance of these two ions is significant in terms of irrigation criteria.



Na Ca Mg

5.2 mg/L 2.3 mg /L 1.6mg/L 1.2mg/L


4.8 mg/L 22.0 mg/L 1.1 mg/L

This high carbonate water is typical of "non saline" world waters. An exam inatio n of statio ns downstream shows a progressive in crease of the concentration of al l ions and a sw itch in dominance from bicarbonate to ch loride amongst the anions with a conso lidation of sodium amongst the cat ions.


The summary data of table 2 has been co ll ected in the first year of operation of the River Murray Commission's Water Quality Monitoring Programme. Data from ot her so urces also will be used later in the paper.



Na Ca Mg

Salinit y


Amplifing what is meant by the " salinity" problem in the Mu rray - the Murray vall ey can be divided into the Riverina plains zone, generally upstream of Swan Hill and the Mallee zone, downstream. The main problems in the Riverina plains zone are land sali nization and high water tab les and in t he Mall ee zo ne, high river salinities. This paper will discuss in detail onl y the aspect of high river salinities but suc h a discussion inevitably touches upon other aspects of the salinity problem . The origin of the salt conte nt of so il s in this region has been the subject of numerous discussions and it is intended to on ly

114 mg/L 99 mg/L 30 mg/L

75 mg /L 18mg/L 15mg/L 5mg/L

Problems Associated With Salinity

High river sali nities reduce the yields of irrigated crops and disadvantage industrial and domestic consumers. Levels of 800 EC are advanced as the upper limit beyond for sto nefruits and citrus with overhead sprays. A leve l of 830 EC units was set as the highest desirable salinity by the 11th Biennial Conference (1969) (4). This is in li ne with the World Health Organization highest desirabl·e leve l published in t he " In ternational Standards for Drinking Water" 1971.


Average Monthly Sal ini ties (microsiemens per cm at 25°C) River dist. km



1978 Sept






1979 Mar




Below Hume Dam Torrumbarry Weir Barham, above Barr Ck. Pen ta l Island Swan Hill Boundary Bend

2225 1638 1(i17 1450 1404 1221

63 119 119 130 752 326

55 134 133 138 398 307

55 144 143 128 242 223

54 119 107 112 227 226

59 101 100 144 199 202

52 105 98 210 236 250

55 100 98 252 272 240

56 94 96 258 272 236

57 104 102 264 277 286

57 98 97 285 302 308

59 101 103 293 303 250

58 124 123 291 246 208

Euston Weir Red Cl iffs Merbein Lake Victoria Lock 9 Lock 6

1110 904 864

311 401 434 407 430 428

344 385 406 485 391 440

220 247 259 442 287 320

219 251 263 430 292 314

194 201 237 412 255 267

212 244 297 424 323 330

214 285 398 423 377 384

243 358 499 456 461 478

242 353 490 457 522 554

300 395 537 472 509 582

249 328 385 510 453 567

206 306 344 443 358 389

526 431 383 320 274 246

482 670 685 732

467 550 621 651

321 360 429 379

280 345 317 318

513 550 613 608

696 780 905 973





672 680 821 798 690 700

734 785 936 992


343 390 413 418 460 450

406 445 460 456


342 400 476 410 430 460



453 525 624 683 720 690

151 11 3 88

867 939 1011 990 3360 1720

586 610 629 1060 1680 1720

421 415 462 1000 1690 1670

385 375 413 780 935 1770

311 304 330 578 805 1660

407 390 430 471 1170 1720

432 424 460 472 627 1580

507 499 530 520 1020 1570

598 591 590 537 831 1560

697 678 690 553 1170 1650

881 830 840 565 979 1460

815 872 920 589 1010 1580


Berri Lock 3 Waikerie

Morgan Lock 1 Swan Reach Mannum Murray Bridge Tailem Bend Milang Goolwa Meningie


765 620



Average monthly salinities at Morgan exceed ed 800 EC units in two months during 1978-79. Thi s trend was reflected in most of th e South Australian stations . Limits to chloride levels for horticultural trees. Th ese limits are 250 mg/L for short term exposure and 150 mg/L for long term exposure (2). The River Murray Commission's Summary Report shows upper levels of chloride in th e South Australian section of the river to range from 144 to 250 mg/L. By these criteria, the water quality of the Murray in South Australia appears to be at the upper limit beyond which adverse effects to irrigated crops may become increasingly apparent. Tubidity

Water turbidity is very much influenced by the nature of the catchment from which the water is derived . Plots of turbidity at a number of stations show that, predictably, turbidity is related to flow. Of particular interest is the contribution of the Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers . From the Commission 's monitoring in 1978 and 1979, it appears that the Wakool and Darling rivers significantly increase turbidity while the Murrumbidgee with somewhat less turbid water, effects a nett decrease of turbidity in the Murray. LOCATION


Riv er Murray at Swan Hil l w.akool River at Kya li te Ri ve r Murray d/s Wakool Murru mbidgee Ri ver at Balran ald River Murray at Eu ston Darlin g Ri ve r at Bu rtundy Murray Ri ve r at Lock 9

27 72 43

29 33 97 73

This suggests that turbidity could be considered as a conservative parameter and that therefore turbidity " loads " may be additive . By evaluating a pseudo load parameter (turbidity x flow) and taking into account diversions of flow, the progressive addition of turbidity to the river from tributaries can be accounted for.

LOCATI ON Torru mbarry Weir Swa n Hil l Dis Wakool Junction Eu ston Dis Rufu s Ri ve r



78 89 188 256 536

59 94 212 234 603

The data also shows that a weak relationship exists between turbidity, total phosphorus and suspended solids. In general , increasing turbidity is accounted for by increasing suspended solids, however, by the definition of turbidity the derivation of a more precise relationship is tenuous. Turbidity levels in the central and lower reaches of the Murray often exceed the desirable levels of 25 FTU common to the WHO (5) and Capital Cities Criteria (6). Many towns have no treatment or have ch lorinat ion only for water drawn from the Murray. The presence of turbidity at these leve ls is not only aesthetica lly undesirable but also represents an increased health risk through the reduced effectiveness of the chlorination process at higher turb idities. Nutrients

The pattern of nutrient levels in the Murray is more difficult to characterise because it invo lves the superpos it ion of biological processes to the physical river regime. The substantial fraction of the total phosphorus in particulate form (about 70 % ) is reflected in its pattern of occurrence which parall els turbidity. There are significant inputs of total phosphorus from the Darling , Wakool and Broken Creek with median concentrat ion s of 250, 110 and 230 ug/L respectively and the saline surface drainage from Barr Creek is also high in phosphrous leve ls (280 ug/L). The contribution to the Murray however is largely accounted for by the Wakool and Darling because of their larger flows . Total phosphorus concentrat ions show an increase downstream with median levels in the upper river at 20-30 ug/L increasing to 160-170 ug/L in the Morgan to Murray Bridge reach . The levels of solub le phosphorus show the same WATER

progressive increase downstream and in the main stem of the Murray, th ey represent about 1/3 to 1/4 of the total phosphorus content with reasonable consistency . Nitrogen levels do not show the same pat tern of increase down the river despite a sim ilar distribut ion of major inputs from the tributaries. A similar observation is made about silica which is a nutrient for diatoms in the river. It would appear at this stage that the levels of both nitrogen and silica are sensitive to the presence of phytoplankton in the river. This is supported by the observation of significant growths of the diatoms , Cyclotella and Melosira in the lower river and coincident falls in the levels of these nutrients. It .is not possible to draw further conc lu sio ns at this stage because of the absence of adequate data in the central and upper reaches of the river, however, the algal monitoring component of the programme has been extended to cover all class 2 stations (Fig . 1) and these results will be valuable in trying to characterise the mechanics of nutrient ass imilation in th e river. Dissolved Oxygen

Dissolved oxygen data is not widely available for the middle reaches of the river but suggests that dissolved oxygen depletion is not a serious problem. Oxygen is replenished principally by surface aeration in the passage over weirs and through the photosynthetic processes from phytoplankton . Flat gradients limit reaeration rates between weirs causing problems under certain circumstances. Th is was highlighted by the slow recovery of dissolved oxygen levels following a release of ano xic hypolymnetic water from Hume Weir which produced an oxygen sag as far as Corowa some 110 km downstream. (7) Data from South Australia indicates that downstream , the cond iti on of the river deteriorates somewhat with a greater incidence of depressed dissolved oxygen levels being recorded . While these conditions are not in themselves a cause for concern , they do point to the need for a survey to characterise the dissolved oxygen regime especial ly in summer conditions when low flows and higher temperatures prevail. Bacterial Quality

Monitoring of bacterial quality is being carried out by determining E. coli levels at a number of stations along the river. The data show that there is no apparent 'deterioration of bacterial quality over the length of the river. Considerable variations are observed at each station and this is probably due to the diverse nature of the sources of faecal pollution. Some correspondence between rainfall and j,igh E. co il readings is also observed although this is not all that well defined. The E. coli data is typically log normally distributed with median values being in the range 10 to 50 organ isms/100 ml and 90 percentile values from 50 to 200 organisms/100 ml. It is considered that a large component of faecal contamination is attributable to stock and other animals in the catchment. REMEDIAL AND CONTROL MEASURES

The scope for applying remedial measures for water quality problems other than salinity is rather limi'ted because of the diffuse nature of many of the inputs and the large area of the catchment. Fortunately, the re lat ively unpo lluted status in most cases such remedial action is not immediate ly necessary. As water use intensifies however, the ex isting problems will be exacerbated and contro l measures will be needed. It is likely that such measures will be based on the reduction of inputs , firstly at the most prominent point sources and secondly, by the appl ication of more broadly based measures invo lving land use management and on farm practice. Before these measures can be successfu lly planned and implemented , it wil l be necessary to establish information about the fo ll owing : - trends in water quality which signal changes in the status of the Murray; - the identificat ion and nature of sources of inputs; - the extent to which benefits can accrue from improvements to water quality. The involvement of the River Murray Commission in these 13

areas is discussed later. Measures which have been applied to mitigate salinity are discussed separate ly. In es tablishing a water mon itoring programme o n the Murray , the main co nsid eration has been the need for lon g term base line data which will facil itate the identification of trends in cha nging water quality. Accordingly, the Commi ssio n has implemented a programme m on it o ring some 20 parameters at 32 stat ions on the main stem of the river and at th e downstream end of major tributaries (Fig . 1). The mo nitoring stat ions are located , whe re possib le, at ex isting gauging stations, major sources of inflow and points of maj or diversion s for irrigation and urban suppli es. Three c lasses of stat ion have been estab li shed with th e minimum sampling frequency being weekly . Higher order stations are analysed fortnightly and monthly respectively for a w id er rang e of parameters in additio n to the basic weekly analyses . At present there are no Clas s 1 station s. Thi s class ifi cat io n has been reserved for the future when a more detailed set of analyses may be necessary. In addition to the details of f igure 1, anal ys is for heavy metals at five monthly int erva ls is being introdu ced at class 2 stat io ns. This lesser freq uency was adopted beca use of kn ow n low co nce ntrati o ns in the river. Pollution so urce s are being identified by co-o peration of State agenci es from New South Wales, Vi ctoria and South Australia and the River Murray Commission has commenced co mpiling a register of all signifi ca nt point sou rces of waste disc harge to t he Murray. The se range from so urces of municipal and ind ustrial effluents to irrigati on return drains. Concurrently with thi s id enti fi cation and with agreement by the States, the Commissi o n wi ll review all applicat ions for li ce nces to discharge waste to th e Murray including all cases of li ce nse renewal as well as app lications for new licen ses. Th e Commission is also investigating the questio n of waste discharges fro m river craft an d the impli cations of this in estab lishing appropriate measures alo ng th e river . In co njun ction with assess ment of the relatio nship between benefit accrua l and water quality imp rovements, the Commission has ini t iated a two part study by consultants aimed at : - mode llin g Ri ver Murray fl ows and wate r quali ty to all ow appraisal of long term management options; - providing a framework for assessing the econo mi c, enviro nmental and social aspects of such options. Th e first part of the tw o part study examin es the feas ibility of th e proposal and is already under way, whi le th e seco nd and major part of th e study will assess in detail th e quest ion of water quality o bj ec tives for the River. Turning now to salinity whi ch is the major water quali ty prob lem in th e Murray, of th e vario us remed ial measures available, the most direct aim to red uce sali ne inputs to th e river. In the maj ority of cases, this invo lves th e int erc epti o n of known saline inputs and disposal to evapo rati on basins. Th ese measures are classif ied by th e nature of the sal in e infl ow, viz: - salin e drainage from irrigati o n areas; - natural salin e groundwater inflows ; - salin e inflows from high water tables. Barr Creek is th e largest single point so urce of saline inputs to th e Murray. These inpu ts are in th e form of sali ne drainage from irri gati on areas, tota lling an ave rage of 180,000 tonne s of salt/ann um . Of this an average of 30 000 to nn es is diverted to evaporation basi ns at Lake Tut chewo p and Lakes William, Ke ll y and Littl e. The eff ectiveness of th e scheme is limit ed by t he capac it y of the evapo rati on bas ins and prop osa ls are in hand to augment the existing ba sin s t o cater fo r a furth er 16,000 tonnes/ann um . Th e reach betwee n Mildura Weir and Merb ei n receives cons id erabl e g ro und water infl ow ca using sa lin ity increases of up to 200 EC unit s over this length . Int erce pt io n schemes o n both sides of the river invo lve th e New South Wales wo rks at Buronga already commissio ned and the Mildura, Merbein works on the Victori an s id e now proceed in g and shortl y to be comp leted. Both sc hemes use a system o'f tub ewel ls to pump sa line groundwater to areas se t as id e as evaporation basins . At the Mildura Merbein wo rks , it is propo se d th at the tub ewe ll s wi ll be ope rate d when River Murray fl ows are less than 15,000 ml/day, resu lting in a redu ct io n of annual sa lt input by abo ut 17,000 to nnes .


In South Aus t rali a, the proposed Rufus River project wi ll intercept groundwater flow s whi c h res ult from th e high grad ien ts c rea ted by t he sto rag e of water~ Lake Vi ctor ia. Th e sc heme cons ists of a se rie s of smal l dams and embankments which isolate sect ions of the Rufu s River and Brilka Creek system from free drainage to the Murray. Thes e sections will intercept salin e groundwater fl ows and provide for storage and evapo rati on. A series of tub ewe ll s to co ntro l gro undwater levels is also proposed . Additi onal st orage wil l be provi ded in an evaporat ion basin some 5 km away. The Wakoo l/Tullakool Scheme in New South Wal es aims to lowe r groundwate r tab les ove r a reg ion of some 20,000 ha in the Wak oo l Irrigati on Di stri ct and Tull akoo l Irri gati o n Area . Thi s w ill prevent future sali nizat io n and recover some areas already sal ini sed. The scheme will also reduce saline groundwater input s to th e Murray. It co nsists of 13 new tubewell s installati o ns connect ing to 11 ex ist in g tu bewel ls an d which wil l pump o ut saline groundwater to an evapo rati on basin where a salt harvesting faci li ty is also proposed . The pumps on these we ll s will operate continuously . Red ucti ons in sali nity ca n also be achieved by direct river reg ulat io n to provid e f lows in excess of that required for irrigati o n or that stipulated under the Agreem ent , th ereb y diluting t he ot herwise hi g hl y salin e water in the river. Obv io usly this approach re quires a trade of f between system reso urces and water quali ty and can re sult in co nflicts between different gro up s of use rs. Des pit e thi s, the Commission is inves tigating th e use of dilution fl ows and th e use of other river regulation procedures including th e coordinat ed re leases of saline water from evapo ration bas ins to th e ri ver. Other more broadl y based meas ures aim to enco urage better irrigati on prac ti ce which wi ll help to red uce saline drainage returns thereby improv ing both the disposa l pro blem and th e river sali nity probl em. Th e forego ing represe nt only so me o f th e ex ist in g and proposed approac hes to the co ntro l of sali nity in th e Murray , and illu stra ting the varie ty of measures being taken to co ntro l the salinity problem.

CONCLUD IN G REMARKS The Ri ver Murray is not a polluted river , howeve r, it is also not w it hout its p"roblems , paramount be ing sa linity . In this respect , a cons id erab le prog ramme of mttigation works and meas ures is in hand. In regard to wate r qua li ty generally, th e evo lving st ra tegy invo lves surveillance to determin e trend s, data collection and cause/ef fects st ud ies leading to a genera l und erstand ing of the basin , the s9urces of its inputs , and of th e processes at work whic h af fec t water quality . This wi ll lead to managem ent options for desi rable stream qua li ty an d/or co nst raint s to was te discharges to the ri ve r. REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

RIVER MURRAY WORKING PARTY . Repo rt to Steering Comm it tee o f M inist ers, October 1975. AGPS, Canberra , 1976. GUTTERIDGE, HASKINS AND DAVEY . Murray Val ley Salini ty Inves tigat ion 1970. T. & H. Hu nter Pt y. Ltd . Melbourne, 1970. WH ITTON , B. A. (ED .) 'River Ecolog y'. Bl ac kwell , Oxford , 1975. BIENNIAL CONFERENCE OF STATE WATER AND SEW ERAGE AUTHORITIES (1969), 11th Conference. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION . 'Internat ional Stan dard s for Drinki ng Wat er'. 3rd ed., Geneva, 1971 . FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ADMINI STRATION (1968). 'Water Qu al ity Criteria' . U.S. Department o f the Interior, Washingt on D.C. ALBURY WODONGA DEVELOPMENT COR PORATION (1977). Lim no logical Survey o f the Ri ve r Murray i n Re lat ion to Albury Wodonga 1973-1976. RIVER MURRAY COMMISSION . Annual Report , 1979, AGPS. RIVER MURRAY COMMISSION. River Murray Water Qual ity Monitoring Prog ram me, Oct ober 1979.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author wished to t hank the Ri ver Murray Commi ss ion fo r perm iss ion to present t his paper in which the views are not necessarily th ose of the Commission. Th e au th or also t hanks th e Albu ry Wodonga Deve lopment Corporation , the Wate r Reso urces Commiss io n, the Stat e Riv ers and Water Supply Commission and the Engineer ing and Wat er Supply Departm en t fo r th e provision of data used in this paper.


::E )> -I













Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen Specific conductivity Oxidised Nitrogen Turbidity Chloride




Chlorophyll - a

(Tailem Bend and

Phosphorus soluble Phosphorus -



SC A lf

Faecal coliforms















Figure 1


Murray River Mitta Mitta River Kiewa River Murray River Ovens River Murray River Broken Creek Goulburn River Campaspe River Murray River Gunbower Creek Murray River Leddon River Barr Creek Murray River Wakool River Ul


Jingellic Tallandoon Bandiana Albury Peechelba dis Yarrawonga Weir Rices Weir McCoys Bridge Rochester dis Torrumbarry Weir Koondrook Barham Kerang Capels Crossing dis Swan Hill Kyal ite


2 2

3' 2 3 2 3 3 3 2 4 3 4 3 2 3


S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C. A.W.D.C. A.W.D.C. S.R.W.S.C. W.R.C. S.R.W.S.C. • S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C. S.R.W.S.C.


Murray River Murrumbidgee River Murray River Murray River Murray River Darling River Murray River Murray River Lake Victoria Murray River Murray River Murray River Murray River Murray River Murray River Murray River


dis Wakool Junction Balranald Euston dis Wei r Redcliffs Merbein Burtundy dis Wentworth Weir Lock 9


dis Rufus River Junction Lock 5 Lock 3 Waikerie Morgan Murray Bridge Tailem Bend




4 3 2 4 3 3 2 4 4 4 2 3 4 2 3 2

S.R.W.S.C. W.R.C. W.R.C. W.R.C. W.R.C. W.R.C. W.R.C. ~ E.W.S. E.W.S. E.W.S. E.W.S. E.W.S. E.W.S. E.W.S. E.W.S. E.W.S.


Over recent years water resource management authorities have become increasingly aware of the need to have available properly assessed water quality data at the planning phase of new works and also for the management of existing works . The techniques for collecting and handling the necessary data have only recently started to be refined to the point where the information collected relates to a specific problem or task. The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria has, in part , through its Water and Materials Science Division, undertaken during the last two to three years a number of environmental studies and resource assessment projects which have relied to some degree on information gathered on water quality. As an outcome of examining all available data, including land characteristics and land use practices for a particular water resource, it is evident that whilst historical data might be useful it is difficult to make satisfactory predictions or provide answers to the problems posed . Experience gained in formulating water quality assessment programmes and evaluating the resultant data shows these refinements as desirable for all future tasks . (1) Definition of objectives . (2) Establishment of precision and variability levels for data. (3) Formulation of economical programmes (i.e. having regard for frequency, station location , parameters, duration of study). (4) Data interpretation with a view to recommending suitable management strategies. INTRODUCTION

In a world increasingly alarmed at the rate of decline of reserves of non-renewable resources , it gives some satisfaction to be considering a resource which , is renewable and indestructible. Whilst water is indestructible, at any time part only of the total in the water cycle is accessible and in an acceptable condition for use. Also, where a component of the cycle (e.g. groundwater) is withdrawn or "mined" at a greater rate than it is renewed, the folly of regarding water as a fully renewable resource without qualification becomes even more apparent. Aggravated by the marked reduction or even complete loss of economic value a resource can suffer at often surprisingly low levels of contamination . The rising costs in money or energy terms of either finding alternative water sources or of cleaning up those already contaminated , dictate that increasing attenti.on must be paid to the consequences of a wide range of activities both within the water industry itself and a much broader set of human activities which may be quite peripheral to those traditionally associated with water resource management (e.g . land use).

THE ROLE OF WATER QUALITY INFORMATION Australia, with its initially small population and relatively low and variable rainfall has understandably paid most attention to water quantity considerations, However, the serious implications of poor water quality have long been known in Mr. David Waite, Dr. Bill Graham¡ and Dr. Wayne Drew are respectively Research Officer, Officer-in-charge of Special Projects Group and Chief Water and Materials Science Division, State Rivers and Water Supply Commission, Victoria. This paper was presented at the Eighth Federal Convention of the A WWA, Nov. 1979, Brisbane. 16

principle and are now seen as increasingly significant in this country . Evaluation and correction of these problems requires relevant water quality information . In Domestic Use The risk of water-borne disease is increased at higher population densities, and even as recently as early this century has been a major problem . Thus Hey and Waggy (1979), in citing the American situation, state that over 50 000 people died from typhoid fever transmitted by contaminated water in the five year period between 1900 and 1904. Approximately 75 % of those deaths occurred in cities . This risk has led to the wide application of a number of basic water management practices, including: i. Segregation of t he water source from sewage contamination ii . Protection of water sources from pollution by surveillance , legislation and legal action iii . Treatment of the water intended for human consumption by storage, chemical clarification, filtration and disinfection iv. Protection from pollution of the water in the treatment plant and in the distribution system v. Advanced treatment of sewage. Coupled with advances in medical practices and public health care, these practices have resulted in a marked reduction in the inc idence of water-borne disease this century. The quality of domestic water supplies is monitored in many countries by laboratory or field analysis, using physical , chemical , biological and microbiological tests . Windle-Taylor (1978) suggests that while infectious waterborne disease has steadily declined during this century and become a rarity in many countries, chemical pollution has become prominent. Cotruvo and Wu (1978) report that more than 700 naturally occurring and synthetic organic chemicals have been identified in surveys of driJ1king waters in the United States. Some of the materials found are known to be either toxins or carcinogens . This situation has led to US EPA proposals that supply agencies should pass their finished water through granular activated carbon to remove organics and in particular, the supposedly carcinogenic trihalomethanes derived from earlier chlorination steps . The status of this problem has been covered in recent Australian review activities (Aust. Water Resource Council). In Agricultural Use

Water quality information is extremely important in the management of water for agricultura¡1 use. Such information may determine the quantity of water required , the advisability of using water from a particular source, or the viability of a proposed agricultural operation. Bernstein (1965) has shown that crop yields will decrease when the salinity of irrigation water is sufficiently high. This decrease in crop yields may well necessitate a change in water source, method of water application (e .g. trickle or under-tree sprinklers) or crop type , and may even render the agricultural practice unprofitable. Percentage yield reductions that may occur for a number of major crops are quoted by MacDonald et al and range up to 50 %. (Figure 1) For stable irrigation practice, it is essential that accumulated salts be leached from the plant root zone. Where the water supply salinity is high , the disposal of the increased volume of soil leachate into the soil or elsewhere may pose water-table or other problems . Components other than t otal soluble salt s may also be of WATER










::::, 0

~ 20

















0 0










Figure 1: Crop yield reductions due to irrigation water salinity (Adapted from MacDonald et a l)




VIC == Pipel ines Groundwater Bores 0






significance fo r irrigation and stock watering supp li es (9h lorid e, sod iu m, magnesium, boron, toxic algae, etc .). In Industrial Use Th e quality of avai lab le water suppli es can be an important factor in determining optimum management procedures of many industri es, Process and washing water, boiler feed, and cooling wat er are required in many industries and, if poor in qual ity, may requ ire trea tment before use. Treatment processes common to industrial uses are clarification and softening . ECONOMIC N ECESSITY OF CONSIDERING WATER QUALITY INFORMATION Water quality information may be criti cal in deriv ing re li able estimates of economic costs associated with water use. This is we ll illust rated by the problems attributed to salinity in the middle and lower reaches of the Murray River and the adjacent irrigated lands in Vi ctoria, New South Wales and South Australia. This area adjoins and extends ac ross the ancient Murravian Gu lf, and in parts, was probably in a state of delicat e hydrologic and salinity balance before European sett lement. In earlier more humid regimes, the saline soi l wat er-tables would have riseri naturally to or near the soil surface . Soil salinizati on and water-l ogging would have occurred, with marked changes in vegetation type and cover (Macumber, 1968). Irrigated agriculture has been developed in the area over the last 90 years , and again th e hydrologi c balance has been tipp ed towards water-table elevation , salini zation of local so il s and stream waters, and vegetation degradation . The Murray River, as the principal surface drainage system, has suffered increases in salinity associated with these changes . In 1975, a comprehensive strategy was propo sed to contro l salinity in northern Victoria and protect River Murray water quali ty (S.R.W.B.C.). The potential increase in River Murray sa lini ty assoc iated with th e improved drainage and groundwater control in the Shepparton region was to be offset by diversion of water from th e Kerang region to evaporative disposal basin s well removed from th e Murray. Elevation of the sa line groundwater near Mildura causes signifi cant quantities of sal t to be carried by seepage flow into the river in this area. In terception works on both sides of the river will tap the se gro undwaters and enab le their disposal to evaporating basins (F igure 2). The total capital cost of the Victorian strategy is estimated as $82 million (1979 values). Strategies of this kind are essen.tial to preserve th e econom ic viabi lity of the irrigation complex, and to assist in preventing furth er deterioration in River Murray water quality. The overall strategy is current ly the subject of an inquiry by the Victorian Parliamentary Public Works Com mittee. Certain of the proposals have already bee n adopted by Government and are being implemented.


Figure 2: Plan of groundwater interception works in the vicinity of Mildura (current at May, 1980).

Similar proposals to control river salinity and/or soil salinization have been made by New South Wales (capital cost $13.6 mil li on) and South Australia (capital cost $15.3 million). In add ition, t here is provision in the River Murray Waters Agreemen t for the re lease low salinity water from storages und er the contro l of th e River Murray Commission to modify salinity at critical points in the River Murray system. The proposal to control trihalomethanes and synthetic organics in U.S. drinking waters (see earli er) has been est imated to cost $350 to $450 million with annual costs of about $60 million , about $6 to $10 per consuming family (Ward 1978) . The benefits in health protection to be gained from this proposal are not yet clearly estab lished. Another example of consideration of • water qua lity information leading to preferred options for water resource management, is the Willameete River basin study in Oregon , conducted by the United States Geological Survey (Geological Survey). According to USGS reports , ¥ Vere dissolved oxygen (DO) depletion during summer had historically been the crit ical quality problem in the Willamette River. In recent years, su mm er DO levels have increased because all point-source wastes have received secondary biologi cal treatment (thus reduc ing the BOD load ing) and the stream-flow has been augmented from storage reservoirs . Despite the improvement in DO leve ls, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is keen to maintain and , if possible, further improve DO leve ls in the Willamette River. A potential for algal problems also ex ists in the same river because point-source discharges cause the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus to be high. Without th e understanding provided by this study, resource planners might logicall y have assumed that further BOD removal was a critical priority and that additional treatment of al l point sources is necessary to reduce th e loading of nitrogen and phosphorus . However, the study showed (i) that nitrification large ly by ammonia loads from one industrial source, was causing more DO deplet ion than wastewater BOD loads and (ii) that water detention time, rather than the concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus , was th e primary control of algal growth , The cost of conducting the DO element of the Willamette study was approximately US $125 000 which is small compared to the possib le fruitless expenditure for pollution control in such a river basin over the next 10 to 20 years. The potential savings by adoption of the more appropriate pollution control procedures indicated by this water quality study have been est imated at some t ens of millions of dollars (Comp. General ,' U.S.A. 1976). It might be assumed that this high ratio of 17

management savings to study outlay would not be uncommon. Rickert and Hines (1978), two of the study co-ordinators, state that as costs for waste-treatment facilities increase , so does the need for valid water quality information to discern between effective and ineffect ive management strategies.

Collect and review all existing data


Despite the obvious (and often pressing) need for water quality information to help define water resource management strategies, the appropriate type of information is rarely available. This striking deficiency is evident, despite intense activity in the environmental field over the last ten years. A possible reason lies in the existence of severe restrictions to the application of traditional scientific methods in the study of environmental problems. For example, it is rarely possible to perform experiments where each major component is varied separately. Environmental data are inherently variable, there are often extremely complex inter-relationsh ips between cause and effect, and there are difficulties in identifying the important variables associated with these inter-relationships. Despite these difficulties studies such as that of the Willamette River above indicate that it is possible to emp loy scientific practice in devising and testing hypotheses in the study of the important mechanisms and processes in natural systems. Difficulty in deriving satisfactory information from environmental studies probably arises from the study design and not from any insurmountable obstacles. Resource agencies may seek water quality information for several reasons: • to establish the normal (base-line) water quality • to establish water quality trends • to establish cause-effect relationships for planning and management purposes • to detect violation of water quality standards . The optimum programme possible within the financial and temporal constraints will vary depending upon the objective of major concern. In situations where more than one of these objectives exist, most agencies in Australia and overseas have implemented larg e-sca le monitoring programmes. Through such programmes the broad scope of environmental problems has been more widely recogni zed, but the interpretive util ity of the data obtained has been disappointig . A number of workers (Howells 1971; Wolman 1971) have commented that programmes based primarly on the monitoring type approach will never prove efficient for casual analysis. Two recent examples studied by this Division highlight the interpretive conflict arising between "data provided" and "data required " . The first case relates to the Macedon Ranges area in the Maribyrnong River catchment near Melbourne. Water supply catchments in the Macedon Ranges are under-going change with increasing demands for urban type residential development (in the absence of reticulated waste disposal) and/or recreational use and there is concern that water quality in the catchment may continue to deteriorate as a result. The second example similarly relates to the effect of increased recreational acitivity and sub-divisional development on water quality - in this case in the immediate environs and catchment of Lake Eppalock, a popular recreational centre near Bendigo in central Victoria. Part of the domestic water supply for the City of Bendigo is also obtained from Lake Eppalock. In the case of both the Macedon ranges streams and Lake Eppalock (including input streams), water quality data for a variety of parameters obtained monthly over a 3 to 4 year period was available. Despite the seemingly comprehensive nature of the data sets, some difficulty was encountered in clearly identifying cause-effect relationships between the degree of catchment and recreational development and local water quality (Waite & Graham), 1978) given the behavioural pattern of basic variables over the study period . Clearly, much more thought and scientific e_xpertise needs to be applied in the design of water quality studies, particularly in the establishment of the objectives of the studies and in appropriate survey design to meet the defined objectives. DESIGN OF EFFECTIVE WATER QUALITY STUDIES

A logical scheme for the design of a water quality study is 18

Knowledge of other study programmes


Review outstand ing objectives if

necessary Modificat ion to exi sting data coltectlon programme

Relevant data from other studies eg tides, river flow , currents , et c


fulfi lled

Forecasting Impacts of planning alternatives on water quality

Communication of resu lts

Figure 3: Approach to the design of a water quality study programme (Adapted from Hart & Waite, 1978)

shown in Figure 3. Implementation of such a scheme should yield high quality relevant data. Selected aspects of this flow chart are discussed below. Problem Oriented Approach

There are significant advantages in developing study objectives based upon the need to investigate a series of syst em " problems" . Features of a "prob lem oriented" approach include the activities show,i in Figure 3. • the approach of Fig. 3 generally requires the establishment of a multi-disciplinary team to define the problems and to determine the study objectives, • the definition of a series of system "problems" provides a focus for the establishment of hypotheses or conceptual models of the way the system functions, This is of particular use in both the objective setting and data assessment phases, • before one can define existing or potential "prob lems" , there is an obvious need for some information on the study system. This will require that all relevant information is collected together and reviewed before the main study commences. Study Objectives

In developing study objectives, constraints such as finance, manpower, time and expertise should be considered . The formulation of sensible study objectives can best be achieved only after the major inter-relationships associated with the problem have been identified . One approach is to develop a conceptual model of the components of the problem . At this stage, understanding of the information required and necessary accuracy and precision of this required information should exist. The importance of well thought out dnd realistic study objectives should be stressed and the need for adequate lead time be recognized so that valid and attainable objectives can be achieved in time to permit application in the resource management procedure. WATER

Assessment Methods

Data Interpretation

The se are the techniqu es to be used in the analysi s of the data. They may include the development of a descriptive approach to the problem , the fitting of the data to a quantative math emati ca l mod el, o r the use of ¡factor or multi-parameter ¡ regression analysis to obtain relationship s between the major vari abl es and the use of scientific insight to formulate hypo these s to explain the relationships. Th e US Geol og ical Survey study of t he Willamette River basin in Oregon (Geol og ical Survey 1977, Ri ckert et al 1975) prov id es an exce ll ent example of the practical use of a number of th ese assessment tec hniqu es.

The interpretive techniques defined in the initial stages of the programme (assessment methods) sholl ld now be applied to the stored data. The assumption is made that the stored data are both relevant and valid . If this is not so then either the initial study design or the data collection programme (or both) are faulty.

Selection of Indicator Parameters

Careful thought must be given to the parameters that will best meas ure particular sys tem variables. Th e probl em oriented approach assists this task by providing a focu s on th e impo rtant system variables and upon the specific information needs. Data Collection Programme

Th ere appear to be two maj o r ways in which the data co ll ec ti on programme can be organized (Hart & Waite 1978). i. A sequential approach in which a short-term wide ranging study is initially used to obtain information sufficient to perhaps define broad trends and conditions . This would be followed by the identifi cation of existing or possible probl em areas which would then be studied more intensively . ii. A prog ramme involving the simultaneous initiation of a long-t erm broad based study designed to produce informati o n on long-term trends, and a relatively short-term but intensive study of the potential or ex ist ing probl em areas . This method would be very depend ent upon the quality of the existing data and wo uld in ev itably involve some measure of judgement as to both the areas selected for intensive study and the degree of intensity of these studies. Whi c hever alternative is chosen , it is absolutely vital that an eff ec tive review and feed back mechanism be set up to ensure that data is assessed regularl y, so that any modifications to the prog ramme can be initiated swiftly. Too often assessment of th e data takes pl ace onl y at the end of the survey by which time it is imposs ible to effect any modification to th e programme.

The concept of water as an indestructibl e resource is perhaps illusory in practice sin ce water is both limited in total quantity , and also very su sce ptible to quality degradation due to even minute amounts of contamination . Clearly, water quality is an increasingly important consideration in water reso urce management practices, due to the rising money and resource costs of obtaining new water sources or of using thos e which have become naturally or artificially co ntaminated . Management therefore has definite ' requirements for adequately detailed co ncepts covering both the components of the water resource environment and their interactions , To some ex tent , these concepts may be derived from examination of existing data and from prior experience. Information from preliminary water quality studies must be used to establish or confirm the validity of th e resulting co nce ptual models, and so provide early warning of the kind of problems which are likely to arise, and which will need to be solved. The processes above then enable the essential objectives of the later studies to be established. More detail ed later studies should be directed towards the actual or potential problems perceived , with a view to putting sufficiently accurate and precise values on the inter-relatives of the parameters involved , so that water quality can be satisfactorily preserved or improved. The interactions in environmental situations are typically complex, and data examination and preliminary interpretation during the co urse of a water quality study are essential to provide corrective feedback to the study program. Despite these difficulties and the short-c0mings of many earlier studies, there is encouraging evidence that , given adequate lead-tim e for prop er planning and execution , water quality studies can yield high benefit-cost ratios in terms of more appropriate and economical water re so urce management strategies. REFERENCES









Prelim inary inspection


Data file


Periodic Informati on

in terpre tation

Figure 4: Data surveillance system with corrective feedback.

On e approach to corrective feedback is shown in Figure 4, in which information is channel ed back to the analytical and sampling operations at two stages of data surveillance . First, raw analytical data are inspec ted before th ey are entered int o th e (master) data storage file. Errors detected at this stage can be used to provide immedi ate or short-term corrective feedback to the fi eld laboratory operations. Second , the mas ter data file is regularly surveyed to detect more fundamental faults in th e planning or operation of th e survey. Th e informati on derived from the latter process provide s longterm guidance of the extent and type of data required. The use of a computer as the storage device enables more reliabl e and eco nomical manipulatio n of the data and allows instant recall. The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Vi ctoria is currently in the process of upgrading its water quality data base system. The upgraded system will enable the re ca ll , printing and editing operations on increasing amounts of stored data to be performed more effectively. WATER


AUSTRA LI AN WATER RESOURCES COUN CIL - " First Report of the Australian Water Resources Counci l Tec hn ical Committ ee Of' Water Qual ity Working Group. In preparation. BERNSTEIN , L. - " Salt Tolerance of Plants." Agricultural Informa ti on Bulletin No, 283, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1965. CO MPTROLLER GEN ERAL, UNITED STATED GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, Report CED-77- 12, 1976. COTRUVO, J. A. and WU, C. - "Controlling Organics: Why Now?" Journal of American Wate rworks Association 70 (11 ), pp. 590-594, November 1978. GEO LOGI CA L SURVEY - " River-Quality Assessment of the Willamette River Basin , Oregon ," Unites States Geological Survey Circul ar 715 - A to M, 1977. HART, B. T. and WAITE, T. D. - " Environmental Surveys - Their Design and th e Interpre tat ion of th e Data. " Paper presented at Australian Water and Wa stewater Assoc iation Summer School, Hobart, February 1978. HEY, D. L. and WAGGY, W. H. - " Plann ing fo r Water Quality: 1776 to 1976". Journal of the Water Resources Planning and Managemen t Division, ASCE, Vol 105, No. WR1 , Proc. Paper 14440, pp. 121- 131, March 1979. HOWELLS, D. H. - " Land Use Function in Water Quality Management. " Water Resources Bulletin 7 (1), pp. 162-1 70, 1971 . MacDONALD, D. V., BARNEY, K. P. and SM ITH , R. A. - "Quality Considera ti ons fo r Water Supp ly Evaluations ." Journal of the Environmental Engineering Division, ASCE, Vol. 104, No. EE2, Proc. Paper 13681, pp. 245-258, Ap ri l 1978. MAC UMBER, P. G. - " Evaluation of the Murray River duri ng t he Tertiary Period. Evidence from North ern Victoria. " Proceedings of the Royal Socie ty of Victoria, Vol 90, Part 1, pp. 43-52, November 1978. RICKERT, D. A., HINES, W. G. and McKENZIE, S. W. - " Methods and Data Requirements fo r River Qual ity Asse sment. " Water Res ources Bulletin 11 , pp. 101 3-1039, 1975. RICKERT, D. A. and HINES, W. G. - " River Quality Assessment : Impli cations of a Prototype Project. " Science Vol. 200; No. 4346 , pp. 111 3- 111 8, June 1978. STATE RIVERS AN D WATER SUPPLY COMM ISS ION (VICTOR IA) - " Salinity Con trol and Drainage. A St rategy for Northern Victorian Irrigation and Ri ver Murray Quality. " State Rivers and Water Supply Com mi ssion , Vic toria. Report , May 1975. WA ITE, T. D. and GRAHAM , W. A. E. - "Water Qualit y St ud y of the Maribyrnong River and Tributarie s." A work ing paper prepared for the Water Resources Study of the Maribyrno ng Catchment , Ministry of Wa ter Resource s and Water Supp ly, August 1978. WARD, P. S. - "New Water Program Targ ets Organ ics." Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation 50 (3), pp. 415-416 , March 1978. WINDLE-TAYLOR , E. - " The Relati onship Between Water Quality and Human Health : Medical Aspects" . Royal Society of Health Journal 98 (3), pp. 121-129, 1978.


'CHRISTMAS AT THE OFFICE' Allan ·Burnet Until his death in 1971, Allan Burnet was Deputy Chairman of the Latrobe Valley Wat er and Sewerage Board and almost every year, to the delight of his colleagues and many others in the water and sewerage field, he produced a poem relating to that field and to the Latrobe Board's activities. The Silver Jubilee of the Authority in 1979 was marked by the publication of an entertaining history of the Board, 'Water into Wealth' written by Secretary John Maglen and to this we are indebted tor the story of 'Goulds Pub' and the poem by Allan Burnet it inspired as a Christmas message in 1961. The 'pub' in 'question, named officially the 'Cecil Inn', in the tiny township of Gould, together with the post-office and several houses was due to disappear under 12 metres of water

with the fil lin g of the Moondarra Reservoir. Quoting now rrom 'Water into Wealth ', and Allan Burnet's Christmas message, by courtesy of the Latrobe Valley Board . 'The Board had a feeling for history and decided to relocate the dining room of The Cecil Inn in the picnic grounds at Vista Point . A unique hostelry, The Cecil Inn was known throughout Gippsland as "the Gould Pub ". It was almost certainly the only hotel in Australia to have been built from a church! The church was dragged down to Gould from Walhalla and lat er served as a half-way house for the Cobb and Co. coaches and weary travellers who trekked between Moe and the Walhalla boom town of the early nineteen hundreds. Local 'dentities put its age at about 100 years, but nobody really knows for certain.'


It was Christmas at the office, with the party at its height , And the Chairman in the Board Room sat alone, Thinking nothing rea lly mattered , when his Christmas peace was shattered , By a sudden strident buzzing on the phone. He was feeling very peaceful with his thought of Christmas cheer When a husky voice broke harshly on his ear; " What's the matter with your water?" "What's the matter with my daughter?" " It's the Reverend Tompkins speaking, kindly make the matter clear. " So he slammed down his receiver with a frown upon his brow, And he hurried out and asked his engineer; "What's the matter with our water? Do you want a press reporter Coming round to get a statement and upset our Christmas cheer?" Then the engineer he pondered and he called the chemist in , And he said " I've got a problem and it's hot , What's the matter with our water? Can't you keep it as you ought to? " So the chemist said he'd test it on the spot . So the chemist took a beaker and he filled it at the tap, Let it run a while to see that it was pure, Sniffed and said, " I think I savour an extraneous sort of flavour, But I think I'd better taste it and be sure." So he sipped a little mouthful, and he took a mouthful more, Then he drained the glass and filled it to the top; Swi,ftly drank the second sample , which it seemed was stil l not V: lf, amp Fe,; ,·r.,·For he drank until they thought he'd never stop. . ..i-/~f

Till the engineer impatient , took a little for himself , 'And the Chairman took a glassful , too, in haste, And each one looked at the other, and they both then had another, To be sure they could id entify the taste. 20

They had quite a little session, till the Chairman by and by Gave a sudden very knowing little laugh. And remarked : " This water 's tasty, but we mustn't be too hasty, And we ought to try a sample on the staff." They adjourned into the staff room , where the beer was run ning low. And they f illed a score of glasses 'neath the tap, And alth ough no party ought to finish up by drinking water, With th is choice Moondarra water, no one seemed to care a rap . And it may have been by intent, or it may have been by chance , That a whisper circulating down the street , Set ten thou sand lips asipping from te Q thousand taps adripping, And the day by lu ck was one of scorching heat. Till the reservoir recorders on their automatic charts Showed continuously a record peak de mand , As the evening sun was sinking, so Moondarra kept on shrinking, And the water level dropped to show the land . What a party for the Valley , what a night of Christmas cheer. But the best of days must finally go by , For the taps began to splutter, in their final dying flutter, For the storage at Moondarra had gone dry. And revealed in all its splendour, 'neath the golden evening moon , Lay the cell ar of the flooded Cec il Inn , With it whisky , rum and brandy, and its kegs of ale close handy , And its memories of carouse ls held within. And as Christmas follows Christmas, all the Valley 's full of hope , They can simi larly ce lebrate again; And a lot of water's wasted , as a lot of taps are tasted , But , alas, their expectations are in vain . For they 've got a brand new by-law on the minutes of the Board Which the Chairman emphasises with a club "If you must give people water, then you never, never ought to Build a storage on a site above a pub." WATER


Three quarters of a million people live in and around Perth, Western Australia, on the sandy soil of the Swan Coastal Plain, nearly half of these in houses serviced by on-site septic tank systems requiring periodic maintenance by pumping out of both the tanks and associated soak wells . It would cost some $1000 million dollars to replace these systems with reticulated sewerage (Metropolitan Water Board of W.A. 1979). Some $6-8 million per year allocated to this replacement'. Desp_ite the Government's policy of requiring sewerage as a cond1t1on of approval for all new subdivisions wherever poss ible, only 85 % of recent new development' has been sewered . New unsewered areas are created as fast as older ones are being sewered. (Metropolitan Water Board of W.A. 197~


It has been strongly recommended that the Metropolitan Water Board modify its aim of complete replacement of all septic tanks with reticulated deep sewerage , and that endeavours be made to develop septic tanks as a permanent alternative to sewerage in certain areas (Binnie International , 1978) . "_Before deciding on future policy . . . it 1s essential that the Board has reliable data on criteria for permanent use of septic tanks . . ." (Metropolitan Water Board of W.A., 1979). Three important factors determine site suitability for permanent septic tank systems, health risks, environmental impact , and cost. The main health risks occur when there is an overflow of effluent, or where there is microbiological contamination of shallow groundwaters. There is evidence that the bacterium E. coli, which is an indicator of faecal pollution , can move down through the sandy soils beneath septic systems. A water table within 1 m below the septic system could be contaminated. (Parker, Carbon and Grubb, 1979). The maier environmental impact is from nitrogen and phosphorus which may leach to groundwaters. On the sandy soils near Perth the input of nitrogen from septic tanks to the groundwater may be 18 kg per household per year. Most of the nitrogen is in the nitrate form (Whelan et al 1979)._. Inorganic phosphorus is adsorbed to the soil in the ea_r,ly years of leaching until saturated . Thereafter some 3 kg of phosphorus per household per year is leached to the groundwaters (Whelan , et al 1979). The householder is usually responsible for the cost of installation and maintenance of the septic tank system. Government responsibility for maintenance and service ot septic systems has been suggested as part of a comprehensive system of sewerage management. The aim of this paper is to describe the frequency of maintenance of current septic tanks and the associated effluent disposal systems on the sandy soils near Perth. This information may facilitate private or public decisions affecting management for septic systems . Current Septic Tank Systems

Septic tank systems are located in the sandy soil beneath the gardens and lawns of individual residences . They collect all sewage and waste water from inside the house , but not roof run-off . The typical system has two sealed septic tanks filled with effluent , and acting as anaerobic digestion tanks . Liquid ettluent trom these passes to two soak wells, with open bottoms and appertures in the walls. Where the groundwater is very shallow elongated leach drains may be installed instead of soak wells (Fig . 1). The soak wells and leach drains are usually constructed of concrete segments with scalloped surfaces at the interfaces to permit lateral drainage. Mr B. A. Carbon is Senior Research Scientist and Miss A. M. Murray Technical Officer with the Division of Land Resource Management, CS/RO, Wembley, W.A.


Figure 1: Diagrammatic representation of septic tank system with soak well or leach drain.

Liquid effluent drains freely from new soak wells but there is a gradual build-up of organic slime of low permeability at the liquid-soil interface. In an established soak well or leach drain in sand soils most of the effluent discharge is vertical and the loading rate can be estimated from the base area. The typical se~tic tank system receives 175 m3 of effluent each year (W1ll1amson and Cole 1976). For a system with two soak wells this is equivalent to an effluent load of 210 mm each day. When the S?il permeability is so reduced that effluent disposal is unsatisfactory, the system is rejuvenated by pumping out effluent and slimes from the tanks and soakwells. Sometimes extra soak wells or leach drains are added to the system to assist effluent disposal. The Soil Environment

Most Perth dwellings are built on f he coarse sands of the Spear~ood or Bassendean Dune Systems (Bettenay, McArthur and Hingston, 1960). The Spearwood Dunes can be divided into the deep sands of the Karrakatta Association , and the shallow sands o_verlying limestone of the Cottesloe Association. Septic tanks 1n the Spearwood Dunes usually discharge into cylindrical soak wells for soil absorption. On the Bassendean Dunes many systems are within 1 or 2 m of shallow groundwater and distribution of effluent is through leach drains. In our studies we have not differentiated between results for soak wells or leach drains but have assumed that the choice between them is a function of depth to watertable. Source of Data

Action to rejuvenate the system is usually triggered by signs of failure of the drainage system , by the waste water flowing very slowly from the house, or by obvious overflow of effluent through the soil above the septic disposal system. The State Housing Commission of Western Australia keeps comp_rehensive records of the services supplied to the many dwellings 1t manages near Perth. These records have yielded information on the frequency of pumping for at least 200 septic systems from each of the Bassendean , Karrakatta, and Cottesloe sands. The sand type at each dwelling was verified by individual inspection . RESULTS Time to First Pumping

Within any one sand type there was a wide range in the time


before the first pumping. Figure 2 shows data for Basse ndean sand . One quarter of the sys tems were pumped within 6 years, one half within 9 and three quart ers within 13 years. Aft er 20 years some 6% of systems were still not pumped. Th ere was no difference between Bassendean, Karrakatta and Cottes loe sands in time to first pumping . For all sands th e time to first pumping of half t he systems was 8 years and t he sp read about this median was similar for each sand typ e. Time to Subsequent Pumpings Th e time to the second pumping was mu c h shorte r than the tim e to the first. Once more there was no differen ce betw een time patterns for the various sand types , and data for all so il s has been poo led for Figure 3. Half t he systems required a second pumping within 2.5 years of th e first. The median time t o third pumping was 2 years, 1.5 years to the fourth, and less than 1 year from the fourth to th e fifth. Th e mo re often th e system had bee n pumped in the past , the shorter th e time to the next pumping. The Effect of Additional Soak Wells or Leach Drains Wh en the interval betwee n pumpings becomes " quite short " it is co mmon practice to install an extra soak wel l or leach drain in series with th e old sys tem . Reco rds provid ed 153 State Housing Commission houses on t he three sand types, where thi s had occurred. The median time to the f irst pumping for th e orig inal systems had been 7.5 years, indi cat ing that they were similar to the larger population al ready d isc ussed . The median tim e to the last pumping before th e sys tem was extended was 1.5 years. Aft er a new soak well or leac h drain was ad ded , the median time to th e nex t pumping was exte nd ed to 4 years. Th e second pumping of the extended system was required after a further 1.5 years . DISCUSSION The investigation has established three feat ures of the tim e intervals bet ween pumpings fo r septic tank systems near Perth . Firstly the time to first pumping and the interva l to subsequent pumpings is independant of soi l types. Seco ndl y, th e tim e in te rval t o successive pumpings d ecreased progress ivel y. Finally, the installation of an additional soakwell



... . . .... ._;,;.----



I" i




i . #// ~


f,I!/. 25






0 """-----5'------'-1Q_ _ _ _1L5-----'2Q_ _ _ _2L5_ YEA RS TO PUMPIN G

Figure 3: The time to first and subsequent pumpings for septic tank systems in sandy soils near Perth .

or leach drain, when time between pumpings had decreased to about 1.5 years , in crease d the t im e to next req uired pumping to 4 years. The owner/manager of a se pti c tank sys tem can use this information to app rai se t he econom ics of installing an ext ra soak well. In Perth the average contractors price tor pumping out a syste m of two sep ti c tank s and two soak wel ls is $122 , and app roximately $33 per extra tank or well. Add ition of an ex tra soak well to an ex isting system costs approximately $217. If there is no all owance tor interest t he annu al cost of installing and pumping is $93 over th e four years. i.e. Annu al cost =


+ 122 + 33 4

= $93. '

Wi t hout installing an extra soak well, the annual cost is $122 di vid ed by th e number of years betwee n services. Thi s would amou nt to $15 per year for a projectoo span of 8 years between pumping , $6 1 for 2 years, and $122 tor 1 year. For a projected span of about 1.3 years to next pumping the annu al cost is $93, the same as for the extended system. Therefore, at 1980 prices , it is eco nomica ll y ju stifi ed to add a new soak we ll when the projected life of the exist ing sy stem is 1.3 years. From fig ure 3 we see th at thi s is likely to occur after th e need for the thi rd or fourth pum ping .



w Q.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The Auth ors appreciate t he assistance of the off icers of the State Housing Commission of Weste rn Australia and of Mr G. A. Bartl e of CSIRO. who helped id entity soil typ es.


:::, Q.














Figure 2: The distribution of time to first pumping for septic tank systems in Bassendean Sand.


BETTENAY , E., Mc ARTHUR , W . M . and H IN GSTON , F. J. (1960). Th e soil associations o f part o f the Swan Coastal Plain , Western Au straia. CS IRO (Aust. ) Soil Land Use Series No. 35. BINN IE INTERNATIONAL (AU STRALIA) PTY LTD (1978). Metropol itan Water Supp ly, Sewerage and Drainage Board, Perth, Developmen t Study. METRO POLITAN WATER BOARD (1979). Development Plan 1979 -1 984. Metropolitan Wat er Suppl y Sewe rage and Drai nage Board , Perth , Western Au stralia. PARKER, W. F., CARBON , 8 . A. an d GRUBB, W. A. (1979). Coliform bacteria-in sandy soil s beneat h septic tank sites in Pert h, Western Au stralia. In " Groundwater Poll utio n Conference, Perth , 1979" Au stral ian Water Resou rces Council, Canberra. WHELAN , B. R. , BARROW, N . J . and CARBON , 8 . A. (1979). Movement of ph os phate and nitrogen from septic tank effluen t in san dy soi ls near Perth , Western Australia. In "Gro und wate r Poll uti on Con ference, Perth, 1979". Austral ian Water Resources Council, Canberra. WILLIAM SO N, D. R. and CO LE K. S. (1976). Management aspects in relation to groundwate r suppli es. (1) Urban, g arde n and sewerage needs. In 'Groundwater Resources o f the Swan Coas tal Plain' (Ed. 8 . A. Carbo n). CS IRO (Aust.), Divis ion o f Land Resources Management, pp . 189-2 17.



Historically, the health effects of water pollution have focused on waterborne diseases, such as typhoid fever and cholera. The public debate surrounding the cholera epidemics of 1832 1849 and 1866 attest to the longstanding importance of this' problem. Development of disinfection practices at municipal drinking water tr_eatment pla~ts_ at the turn of the century were instrumental in virtually el1m1natIng waterborne diseases as an important public health problem . Unfortuna_tely, however the intervening seventy years has seen progess1vely less att~ntion directed to the health implications of drinking water contaminants. Ironically, it is the very process of disinfection, so instrumental in the provision of water-borne diseases, that is now providing one major stimulus for current research interest in the health implications of drinking water. Advances in the application of analytical methods (e.g ., gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) to waterborne -contaminants have permitted the detection of a vast spectrum of chemical compounds previously undetected . Recent nationwide studies in the US by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have demonstrate_d the widesprea_d occurrence of organic chemicals of potential health s1gn1f1cance in t~e nation's drinking water. Although few of these organic chemicals have been tested for their potential chronic toxicological effects, numerous che_micals have been identified with carcinogenic, mutagenic , and teratogenic properties. Estimates of health effects are complicated by latency and the lack of definitive data on dose/response relationships. Although recent multivariate regression studies have indicated statistically significant associations between cancer mortality rates and drinking water, definitive epidemiological studies at the level of the individual have not been conducted . These studies, together with crude extr~polations from ani~al data, have been used cautiously to estimate levels of public health risk. Recent laboratory studies have also implicated drinking water contaminants with reproductive failures in animals, stimulating preliminary epidemiology studies on the possible etiologic role of chloroform on human reproductive_ failure . However the paucity of health effects data has been cited as a major re~son for not promulgating standards in the US, on organic chemicals in drinking water. Although preliminary studies have focused on the. role ?f inorganic chemicals (e.g., asbesto_s, _ arsenic,_ selenium\ in drinking water in human cancers, def1n1t1ve studies are lacking. Far greater attention has been focused _on the role of inorg anic chemicals in cardiovascular diseases. Numerous epidemiological studies have consistently observed higher cardiovascular death rates in soft water areas when compared to hard water areas with differences in death rates typically ranging between 25 and 50 percent. Thus, the potential detrimental health effect of soft water may numerically overshadow the risk of cancer from organic chemicals in drinking water. Although the etiologic ag~nts (? some combination of ions) responsible for the card1ovascular/~oft water relationship have not been elaborated, a possible contributory factor may be the products from corrosion of home plumbing systems. Studies on corrosive water in addition have led to the suggestion that ihe resulting increased levels of lead may be contributing to mental retardation in children . Lead is a known neurotoxin , and the young human organism (perhaps the fetus in particular) is thought to be very vulnerable in this regard. Dr. A. J. McMichael is Principal Research Scientist with the CS/RO Division of Human Nutrition in South Australia. This paper was presented at the A WWA Summer School at Adelaide in February.


An additional area of research importance is the adequacy of water treatment practices and current standards for protecting against the transmission of viral diseases by drinking water. Despite signif;cant recent advances in analytical methodology, the role of colloidal and particulate matter in obscuring analytical determinations and in reducing the effectiveness of disinfection practices is still unknown . In the following discussion, emphasis is placed on the carcinogenic and teratogenic effects of organic and inorg~nic contaminants of drinking water, and on the effect of metal ions on cardiovascular diseases and mental retard ation. ORGANIC CONTAMINANTS IN DRINKING WATER

Development and application of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques for identifying organic contami_nants in drinking water have greatly expanded our understanding of the potential role of organic contaminants as etiologic agents of disease. To date, over 400 organic chemicals have been identified in drinking water supplies, of which 350 have been identified in treated drinking water (Junk & Stanley, 1975). However, development of quantitative te?hniques ~ave laQged behind development of qualitative techniques, posing serious limitations to definit ive risk estimations . Sources of organic contaminants in drinking water include agricultural and industrial discharges, urban run -off , discharges from domestic sewage treatment plants : and chlorination practices at water treatment plants . Formation ?f chlorinated hydrocarbons by chlorinating natural waters !s responsible for several halogenated organic ch_em1_cals In treated drinking water. Major products of the chlorination process appear to be primarily trihalogenated (chlorine and/or bromine) methanes . . Although the chlorination reaction is responsible for the introduction of several chlorinated hydrocarbons of to xicological importance, it is apparent , that numerous potentially toxic organic chemicals are introduced from other sources. A recent report has associated the majority of the organic contaminants so far identified in drinking water with industrial sources (Syec et al, 1978). Howe~er, procedures a~e lacking for identifying the relative¡t contributIon of organic chemicals from different pollution sources necessary for developing abatement strategies or for monitoring exposure for epidemiological investigations. Ground water pollution is rapidly increasing from sources such as surface disposal of domestic and industrial waste landfills, wastewater sludges and effluents, feedlot wastes, fertilizers and agricultural chemicals, mine drainage, and seepage from septic tanks and storage transmission facilities and individual on-site waste water disposal systems. The identity of potential pollutants, which can include a broad spectrum of physical , inorganic, organic, radiological and bacteriological materials is largely unknown and uncharacterized at present. In an effort to predict the health risk of organic contaminants in drinking water, a recent EPA study extrapolated dose/response data from animal experiments to predict human risk (Environmental Protection Agency, 1975a). However this study was severely constrained by the lack of carcinogenicity data for the numerous ch_emicals id~ntifie~ in drinking water. Of the many organic chemicals so far 1dent1f1ed in drinking water, less than 5 percent have been adequately tested for carcinogenicity in mammalian test systems. In marked contrast to the large number of epidemiological studies on air pollution and its adverse health effects, toxic and carcinogenic effects of chemical pollutants in drinking water have received little attention until recently. Multi-variate regression analyses have indicated statistically significant relationships between drinking water and cancer mortality (Page et al, 1976; Burcher et al 1977; De Rouen & Diem , 1975). 23

However, such studies are constrained by the lack of definitive exposure data and the inability to control for other relevant characteristics of the cohort sample, thus necessarily falling short of establishing causal relationships. Further, only the common sites of cancer have been studied to date. The account below exemplifies the problems: During November, 1974, the citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio, ¡ were presented with several facts to consider which might be cause for concern . First, Cincinnati (actually Hamilton County) had a high cancer death rate for the period 1950-1969, a period for which data by county based on death certificate information were readily available. Second, it was brought to the attention of most people for the first time that a number of organic chemicals had been found in the drinking water of Cincinnati. Finally, in a comparable situation in New Orleans, Louisiana, the claim had been made of a causal relationship between a particular source of drinking water and cancer rates, and the citizens of Cincinnati wondered whether a comparable situation existed in their city. The City Health Commissioner asked the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of the University of Cincinnati Medical College to look into this situation to find out whether there was an imminent hazard from the drinking water. During the same period, the City Council, which is the basic governing body, appointed a Citizen-Scientist Committee on Drinking Water Quality to find answers to similar questions. The following two paragraphs are from the conclusions of the University study : "It is now clear that an enormous array of organic chemicals can be detected in the drinking water of the citi ze ns of Cincinnati. It is almost a certainty that some of these chemicals are deleterious to health including some which may cause cancer in humans . Numerous questions remain . For example, is the quantity frequently measured in parts per billion of any health consequence? Which chemicals are the important ones? Are some of the chemicals in the drinking water of positive value and if so, which ones? "This report has shown that the scientific evidence of any problem in Cincinnati is at best suggestive and therefore no precipitous action is appropriate. On the other hand, this type of health problem is better handled by preventive measures than curative measures. Thus, as the sources of these organic chemicals in the drinking water are ascertained and various modifications and alternatives to current chlorination techniques are understood , the city of Cincinnati can proceed to newer techniques of water purification that reduce the organic content in the drinking water" (Buncher, 1975). As an illustration of a fundamental methodological difficulty in research of this kind, one must first evaluate the likely significance of the " high " cancer rate in Cincinnati (i.e. Hamilton County). Hamilton County is in the top 2% of some 3,000 counties in the United States in terms of total cancer rate. Epidemiologists, but not many citizens, know that urban areas tend to have higher cancer rates than more rural areas; thus a more proper comparison would be between Hamilton County and other urban counties. When compared to other urban counties, Hamilton County is at the 28th percentile (17 out of 60) for white males and the 19th percentile (11 .5/60) for white females. The principal known cause of cancer in Cincinnati, as in most other US areas, is cigarette smoking, currently .accounting for some one-quarter to one-third of all cancer deaths. The other usual factors of dietary differences, air pollution, associations with alcoholic beverages, and so forth, all must have their contribution . In addition, at least two special factors are applicable to Hamilton County. A recent study of cancer mortality in US counties with chemical industries investigated lung , bladder, and liver cancer using the same 1950-1969 death certificate information (Hoover & Fraumeni, 1975). Cincinnati has been a tremendous producer and consumer of a wide spectrum of chemicals for many decades. This could certainly have resulted in occupational exposures within the plants as well as more general population exposures of persons living in the neighborhoods of these industries. In the study mentioned, Hamilton County , Ohio, is singled out as the only county with a high cancer rate for all three sites. Another potentially important factor in the high Cincinnati cancer rate is a data artifact. Some persons migrate towards the excellent medical care facilities in Cincinnati as they grow 24

old and/or debilitated. If these persons die of cancer within one year of their move to Cincinnati, then current death certificate record-keeping procedures allocate their deaths to their usual residences. On the other hand , if they were residents in Hamilton County for more than one year, tlilen they would be listed as deaths in Hamilton County, even t hough the cancers were acquired somewhere else. The magnitude of this migration problem is still unknown . For similar methodological reasons, the apparent relationship of stomach cancer risk to water concentration of nitrooenous fertili zer waste in Chile (Zaldivar & Robinson , 1973) and the now-notorious evidence relating water fluoride to cancer (Taves, 1977) must be treated circumspectly. Finally, toxicological data also indicate that certain organic chemicals identified in drinking water are teratogenic . Recently, statistically significant reproductive failures in laboratory animals were observed to result from organic chemical pollutants in drinking water. Although chloroform was identified as a possible contributory agent in this effect , the responsible agents remain largely unknown . These reproductive impairments included reduced numbers of embryos, embryonic developmental problems, reduced num bers of fetuses, increased fetal resorption and death , and increased numbers of malformations. INORGANIC CHEMICALS Numerous epidemiology studies in both the UK and North America have demonstrated a statistical relationship between cardiovascular death rates and soft water. There is less uncertainty as to whether this relationship establishes causality than as to identifying the causative agent(s) (Crawford et al, 1971). A study of coronary atheroma in victims of accidents and in those dying suddenly from ischaemi c heart disease (" heart attack", IHD) in hard and soft water areas in the UK suggested that some factor in soft-water areas affects the myocardium directly, rather than the process of atherosclerosis (Crawford & Crawford, 1967). The excess death rate from IHD in soft-water areas appears to be due to an increase in sudden unexpected deaths (Anderson et al 1969). Further, persons dying suddenly from IHD have been found to have low myocardial magnesium and copper concentrations, and high myocardial calcium concentrations (Behr & Burton, 1973; Chipperfield & Chipperfield, 1978). Other such irregularities have also been reported (Chipperfield & Chipperfield, 1979), and the general question is therefore raised as to whether such ionic imQalances adversely affect electrical conduction within the myocardium , or perhaps muscular contractility. The specific agents that have received the most attention in clude a compound .deficiency in dietary magnesium because of lack of magnesium in soft water; cfecreased protection from bio-accumulation of heavy metals resulting from dietary imbalances in calcium and magnesium ; increased exposure to cadium introduced from corrosive soft water acting on distribution plumbing ; and the detrimental e'ffects of high sodium concentrations observed in some soft waters . However, recent studies in England , which have observed differences up to approximately 50 % in the cardiovascular death rates between soft and hard water communities, underscores the potential public health importance of this problem . Although little attention has been directed towards the possible etiologic role of sodium in the observed cardiovascular/soft water relationship , elevated sodium intake has long been implicated in aggravated hypertensive and congestive heart disease. For example, it is clinically recommend ed that the sodium concentrations in drinking water would be limited to 20 milligrams per litre for patients on restricted salt diets. A current study, being carried out by the Department of Medicine, University of WA, is comparing mean blood pressures in local communities drinking water with known major differences in salt concentration. Studies by Schroeder on cadmium and recent reports by the EPA on lead and cadmium levels in Seattle drinking water and on lead levels in Boston have underscored the importance of corrosive waters in introducing lead and cadmium at levels exceeding current drinking water standards (Schroeder, 1974; Environmental Protection Ag ency , 1975b). Preliminary studies also implicate asbestos/cement pipes as contributory to the high levels of asbestos in some water supplies.


Studies on the influence of corrosive waters in introducing lead into Boston drinking water, and its relationship to bloodlead levels, have suggested the importance of corrosive waters on the body burden of lead. These, together with case-control ep idemiological studies (Moore et al, 1977; Beattie et al, 1975) in Great Britain on mental retardation in children and lead levels in drinking water, suggest the potential significance of water lead levels on neurological development. A recent study of the contribution of drinking water lead to maternal blood lead concentrations (Moore, Go ldberg et al, 1979) has shown the blood lead to vary significantly with the cube root of the water lead - especially for first -flush water. Of the many populations sub-groups, pregnant women and their infants are probably more exposed to lead in domestic water supplies because of extended residence at home, and preparation of water-added baby foods . CONCLUSION

Advances in the analytical methodology of detection and measurement of waterborne contaminants have permitted the identification of a broad spectrum of chemical compounds previously undetected. These originate primarily from industrial and agricultural discharges, as we ll as from ch lorinat ion disinfection treatments . Drinking water contaminants have been implicated in the two leading causes of death in modern western society cardiovascular diseases a~d cancer. Epidemio lo gical evidence, accumu lated over the past decade, suggests that the potential impact of drinking water quality on cardiovascular diseases may overshadow any other potential effects of drinking water. Research is needed to elucidate the causative fac tors in the cardibvascu lar/soft water phenomenon, and to understand the biological process. Case-control epidemio logy studies are needed to determine the extent to which both inorganic and organic contaminants in drinking water are involved in the etilolgy of human cancers . The evidence assemb led to date has not estab li shed associations between prior exposure and current cancer at the level of the individual. Rather, it has been of the population correlation type - with all its inherent pitfal ls. Nevertheless, there is an undoubted a priori plausibility of many of these associations. Additional studies are also needed to clarify the role of drinking water contam inants in reproductive failures. Techniques must be further deve loped to obtaining a prof ile of the sources and relative contaminants of various organic and inorganic toxicants in surface and ground water supplies.

This information is vital for determining t he relative importance of drinking water in human exposures to organic and inorganic contaminants that are also present in air, food and the occupational environment. REFERENCES ANDERS ON, T. W., LE RICH E, W. H. & MACKAY, J. S. (1969). Sudden death and lschaemi c heart disease. Correlat Ion wit h hardn ess of local wat er suppl y. N. Engl. J. Med. , 280:805. BEATTIE, A. D., MOORE, M. A. , GOLDBERG, A., FINLAYSON , M. J. W., GRAHAM , J. F., MACKIE, E. M. , MAI N, J. C., McLAR EN, D. A., MURDOCH , A. M. & STEWART, G. T. (1975). Role of chronic low-level lead exposure in t he aet iology of mental retardati on. Lance t, 1:589. BEHR, G. & BURTON , P. (1973). Heart muscle mag nesi um . Lancet 2:450. BU NC HER, C. A. (1975). Ci ncinnat i drin king water - An epidemi ologic stud y of cancer rates. Board of Health, Cincin nati, Ohi o. BU NCHEA, C. A. , KUZM A, A. J. & FORCADE, C. M. (1977). Drinking Water as an Epidem iologic Risk Factor for Cancer. In: 'Orig ins of Human Cancer' (ed . Hiatt H. H. et al.), Cold Spring Harb or Laboratory , New York, p. 347. CHIPPEAFIELD B. & CHIPPEAFIELD, J. A. (1978). Differences In metal content of th e heart musc le In deat h fro m ischaemic heart d isease. Am. Heart J., 95:732. CHIPPEAFIELD B. & CHIPPER FIELD, J. A. (1979). Relati on of myocard ial metal co ncentrati ons to water hardness and death-rates from isct,aemic heart disease. Lancet, 2:709. CRAWFORD, M. D. , GARDNER, M. J. & MORAIS, J. N. (1971 ). Cardi ovascular disease and t he mineral content of d rinking water. Br. Med. Bull., 27:21. CRAWFORD, T. & CRAWFORD , M. D. (1967). Prevalence and pathol ogi cal changes of lschaemi c heart di sease in a hard-water and in a soft-water area. Lancet, 1:229, DE ROU EN, T. A. & DI EM, J . E. (1975). Th e New Orleans drinking water controversy: A stati sti cal perspecti ve. Am. J. Pub/le Health, 65:1060. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (1 975a). Report of Ad Hoc St udy Group on t he Healt h Ri sk of Organic Contam inant s In Drink ing Water. EPA, Research Tri angle, Nort h Carolina, USA . ENVI RONMENTAL PROTECTION AGEN CY (1975b). Annual Report to Congress. Was hington, D.C. HOOVER A. & FRAUMENI , J. F. (1975). Cancer mort ality In US counties with chemi cal indust ries. Environ. Res. 9:196. JUNK, G. A. & STANLEY, S. E. (1975). 'Organi cs in drinking water. Part 1': Listing of identical chemicals. Nat ional Techni cal Information Service, Springfi eld, Virgi nia. MOORE, M. A. , MEREDITH , P. A., CAMPBELL, B. C. & GOLDBERG , A. (1977). Co nt ribution of lead In drinking water to bl ood lead. Lance t 2:661 . MOORE, M. A. , GOLDBERG , A., MEREDITH , P. A. , LEES A., LOW, A. A. & POCOCK, S. J. (1979). The contribution of drinking wat er lead to maternal blood lead concentrati ons. Clin ics Ch/mica Acta 95:129. PAG E, T. , HARRI S, A. H., & EPSTEIN , S. S. (1976). Drin king water and cancer mort ality in Louisiana. Science, 193:55. SCHROEDER, H. A. (1965). Cadm ium as a factor in hypert ension. J. Chron. Dis., 18:647, SVEC, H. J. , FRITZ, J. S. & CALDER, G. V. (1973). Trace soluble organi c compound s in potabl e water supplies. Dept. of Interi or, Washington, DC. TAVES, D. A. (1 977). Fluoridation and Cancer Mortalit y. In: 'Origins of Human Cancer' (ed. Hiatt, H. H. et al.), Cold Sprin g Harbor Laboratory, New York, p. 357. ZA LDIVAR, A. & ROBIN SON , H. (1973). Ep idemiolog ical investig ation on stomach cancer mortality in Chi leans: Associati on with nit rate , fertil iser. Z. Krebsforsch. 80:289.



July 14-18, Townsville Groundwater recharge conference . AWRC.

September 1-4, Paris

November 4-6, Adelaide

Thirteenth international water supply congress and exhibition . IWSA.

Hydrology and water resources symposium . (I.E. Aust.)

July 14-24, Edmonton, Alberta

September 8-9, Portland, Oregon

Third international symposium on water/rock interaction. Alberta Research Council.

International symposium on waters and lake restoration .


Land and stream salinity seminar and workshop. (P.W.D.)

July 15-17, Brisbane

Aquatech '80, Int. Water Technology Exhibition and Symposium on Fresh Water from the Sea.

Silver Jubilee Conference. A'asian Corres . Assoc.

September 30-Oct. 2, Geelong

First international conference technology for development.

Engineering education conference. I.E. Aust. July 22-29, Brisbane

Fif th internationa l symposium bio logical control of weeds.


July 21 -25, Uni. of ClermontFerrand, France

Third WMO scientific conference on weather modif ication. WMO. August 18-22, Brisbane

Seventh Australasian hydraulics and fluid mechanics confernce . I.E. Aust. August 24-31, Kyoto, Japan

XXI International Botanical Congress. Sec . 10. Marine and Freshwater Botany. August 27-29, University of Melbourne

Fourth Australian Biotechnology Conference. WATER

November 12-13, Perth, W.A.

September 23-27, Amsterdam

Conference on agricultural Engineering, (I.E. Aust.). October 11-16, Victoria

NWWA annual meeting, conference on drilling, sampling communications .

November 17-21, Adelaide

November 24-28, Canberra


December 1-5, Canberra

4th International Nitrogen Fixation .



December 20-22, Roorkee, India

October 13-16, Minneapolis

Symposium on water resource systems.

16th American Water Resources Conference (A.W.R.A .)

January 1981, 9th New Delhl

October 13-18, Velderhoven Netherlands

January 25-31, Christchurch, N.Z.

Seminar on Economic Instruments for National Utilization of Water Resources . November 3-7, Brighton, U.K.

Conference on the environmental impact of man 's use of water (IAWPR).

IAHR Conference. International symposium on erosion and sediment transport. January 27-29, Bangkok

S.E. Asian regional symposium on problems of soil erosion and sedimentation. (Cont'd.)


LETTERS The Editor, On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Federal Council of AWWA I would like to take this opportunity to reply to some of the points raised in a letter by Mr. A. P. Aitken which was published in "Water" in March 1980. The letter is a thoughtful one and we welcome the opportunity to open up through your col umns open and frank discussion on a matter which is of such moment to our Association. The letter takes issue with comments made in the Editorial of the September 1979 issue of " Water" . It appears however that the difference of opinion expressed by Mr. Aitken with those of the Executive are rather more apparent than real, a reading of Mr. Aitken 's letter suggests that it may be 'words' rather than 'deeds' which are causing him con cern . There does in fact seem to be a large measure of agreement between us. There is perhaps a misunderstanding .arising from the use of the term 'mouthpiece' in the original Editorial. The Federal President did not mean to imply that the AWWA seeks to be the mouthpiece for all water activities in Australia. He did indicate however that the Journal should fill that role . Aust~alia, in our opinion lacks a journal of widely accepted international standing which publishes technical articles dealing with the full spectrum of water related matters. We make no apology for seeking to develop the journal "Water" in that direction. In so doing we do not seek to stifle any voices but rather to invite them to join the choir, where we may mutually support each other. The first step in this regard might be to seek to republish in " Water" articles of outstanding merit from other Australian journals, with their permission of course, with the aim of giving these articles a wider audience. As suggested by Mr. Aitken it is too early to say that the AWCC will prevent duplication of overlapping of the activities of organisations concerned with water related matters. Our primary aim at this time is to provide a forum where the representatives of different learned societies can meet with a view to coordinating their activities and discussing matters of mutual interest. Australia's resources of skilled manpower are limited and although others have tried and failed, as we may do, the challenge is there to co-ordinate such talent as we may have in the water field for mutual benefit . The membership of the Australian Water Co-ordinating Committee was not meant to be limited and it may be appropriate for the Institution of Engineers Committee on Hydrology and Water Resources and the Australian Academy of Science National Committee on Hydrology to be invited to participate. The AWWA has centred its efforts to date on matters relating to the supply of potable water and the disposal of waste water, fields in which the totality of the picture can only be seen through the eyes of medical practitioners, chemists, 26

biologists , engineers, etc., working together. In · these fields while each discipline can work in large measure independently fo r much of the time they must come together periodically as a learn, for the work of each relates to that of the others. Co-ordination of their efforts yields strength and solution to common problems. It is recognised that there is not such strong pressure for cooperation between all the other fields of endeavour relating to water but we believe that they have something to offer each other. As Mr. Aitken points out there is great fragmentation on the political side of water affairs. In many cases this is desirable if the principle is espou sed that decision making should occur as close as possible to the people who will be directly affected, i.e. that decisions should be taken at as low a level 3S possible in the tiers of government. However, the real problem is that in many parts of Australia decision making in water matters is spread among so many different Authorities, as to make co-ordination extremely difficult. It is deplorable for example that on any particular river system in New South Wales so many bodies can be involved. Many people would believe that water in Australia would be better handled by River Basin Authorities dealing with the whole range of water management problems in their area. Because the present system is fragmented we do not necessarily have to live with it however. If a system is less than ideal it should be questioned, and if necessary replaced . Mr. Aitken's letter has served a very useful purpose in drawing attention to the extent of water associations in the Australian scene, emphasising the need to ensure compatability of objectives and activities . The AWWA Executive is greatful for his initiative in bringing this important matter forward. Peter Hughes Hon. Secretary AWWA

CALENDAR (continued) March, Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands

International symposium on the quality of groundwater. March 23-27, Canberra

I.E. Aust. 1981 Engineering Conference. March 31·1 April, Berlin


The second, revised, edition of Prof . Williams ' book is most welcome being the only work of its kind available for the general reader, the student, or the practitioner of freshwater biology in Australia. The first edition was of great value in both field and laboratory in familarising the reader with all the significant groups of invertebrates in Australian inland waters . It was a work for frequent refe rence which unfortunately tended to fall apart with use - a disability which the latest issue should overcome. The new edit ion is more attractive than the first, it includes an introductory chapter on the general ecology of inland waters and the layout is improved. The Illustrations by Ruth Altmann are excellent and some, if not all, have an indication of scale. This is of importance to the amateur taxonomist and was completely lacking in the first edition . This book will continue to be of marked value in the fields of water supply and water pollution biology. With its assistance, water inspectors have been trained to observe and identify the inhabitants of lakes and streams. Unfortun ately it lacks reference to the occurrence of such in water distribution systems. Published by Macmillan, Australia, recommended price is $14.95 paper and J oan Powling . $29.95 hardcover. WATER RESOURCES

This softcover, by Ken Nelson, the seventh in the Australian Life Series provides an excellent introduction t~ Australia's water resources, and should prove a useful reference book for teachers and si udents. The earlier cnapters discuss the water cycle, surface water, groundwater, planning a water supply, irrigation and flooding. Chapters are then devoted to describing the water resources of each state and Commonwealth-State ven tures. Future trends such as rainmaking desalination and water re-use are als~ examined . The book is very readable and is well endowed with photographs and illustrations. · Published by Lothian Press, recomJo hn Ba1es mended retail price $4.50.

IWSA specialised conference on low cost technology in water supply. April 2-3, Berlin

IWSA specialised conference on instrumentation monitoring and automation in water protection and supply.


April 6-10, Perth, Aust ralia

AWWA 9th Federal Convention . May 3-7, Bratl slavia

international conference on numerical modelling of river, channel and overland flow. (IAHR, WMO, IIASH) May 11 -15, Brisbane 51st ANZAAS Conference.

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