Feature Length Live Virtual Presentation 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Challenges for management of treated sewage urban and rural runoff in NSW Southern Highlands Waterway values include biodiversity (platypus habitat) drinking water catchment and World Heritage Area (#41)

Katherine Morrison 1 , Michelle M Ryan 1 , Jason K Reynolds 1 , Ian A Wright 1
  1. School of Science, Western Sydney University, Richmond, NSW, Australia
  1. Wingecarribee and Nattai Rivers are both part of Sydney’s Warragamba catchment. They each receive treated sewage effluent from a series of Southern Highlands settlements. They also collectively drain a fast-growing urban area that also supports industry, mining and intensive agriculture. The cumulative impact causes complex degradation of water quality with numerous implications.
  2. We collected water and sediment samples across both rivers and several tributaries. Analytical tests included nutrients, major ions, and metals. We also had water samples tested for pesticides as part of a suite of emerging contaminants. Comparison is made to ANZECC guidelines, EPA ‘pollution discharge’ licences and to previous Sydney catchments audits.
  3. The water and sediment quality of both rivers are contaminated as a result of sewage effluent; urban land uses and agricultural/industrial activities.
  4. Our study raises questions about the effectiveness of current management of Sydney’s drinking water catchments and also protection of the values of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area. Our findings raise concerns that the nature and scale of the region’s water quality contamination threaten the long-term conservation of the region’s platypus populations and other elements of the regional biodiversity. The human population of the Southern Highlands is quickly growing with a high risk of further water quality deterioration.
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