Key messages

  • To protect our drinking water supplies, we need to keep livestock away from natural catchment areas.
  • Landholders can take action to improve catchment water quality and protect public health.

Poor-quality drinking water can affect public health. The actions of people living in and visiting water catchment areas can significantly impact downstream communities.

Preventing stock access

Livestock present public health risks to upstream waterways. Restricting access to natural waterways in catchment areas helps protect our drinking water, and is an integral part of good land management.

The brochure Protect our waters, protect our health highlights the benefits of stock exclusion, what landholders can do and who can be contacted for financial assistance.

The report Public health issues associated with stock accessing waterways upstream of drinking water off-takes provides objective evidence and guidance on assessment and management of public health risks.

Typically, catchment management and water treatment are combined to minimise public health risks. The more effective the catchment management:

  • the lower the risks and costs related to public health
  • the more inherently reliable the controls become
  • the lower the costs of water treatment.

Water catchment land management

Keeping contaminants from entering into waterways improves river quality and protects downstream communities. Appropriate land management in drinking water catchments:

  • helps create sustainable farming practices
  • is likely to save money on farm operations
  • has a positive impact on the environment
  • creates healthier, more appealing and more valuable land.

The booklet Protect our waters, protect our health: a guide for landholders on managing land in drinking water catchments details important actions to take when managing catchment land including:

  • improving waterway frontages with revegetation
  • preventing stock access to waterways
  • maintaining on-site wastewater treatment systems (for example, septic tanks)
  • preventing soil erosion
  • using and managing nutrients wisely
  • optimising agricultural chemical use
  • carefully planning and developing land.

The booklet also highlights who can be contacted for financial assistance, and contains a range of resources to further assist landholders.