2015: Harding Dam (Western Australia). Potential contamination

Human waste risk to Pilbara drinking water source


Western Australia’s Water Corporation has warned an increase in illegal camping and fishing around the Pilbara’s Harding Dam is putting the drinking water source at risk of contamination with human waste.

The corporation’s north west regional manager, Rino Trolio, said the illegal activity was on the rise.

“Since early 2013 there has been a significant increase in recreational activities around the Harding Dam catchment such as fishing, camping and swimming,” he told Hilary Smale on ABC North West Local Radio.

“This has caused an increase in the amount of rubbish and human waste within our source protection area, also known as a P1 area.”

The Harding River was dammed in 1983 for a new source of water in the west Pilbara.

“Harding Dam is really a crucial drinking water source for the west Pilbara,” Mr Trolio said.

“It does provide safe drinking water to customers in Karratha, Roebourne, Wickham, Point Sampson and Dampier.”

With a famously hot and arid climate, the Pilbara’s few freshwater bodies are popular drawcards for locals and tourists.

The Water Corporation tried to manage the natural attraction of Harding Dam by creating an area where people could visit without risking the water quality.

“If they do enjoy this purpose built recreation area, they are doing their bit to protect our drinking water source,” Mr Trolio said.

The Water Corporation warned it would increase surveillance at the dam, and people found undertaking prohibited activities would face fines of up to $5,000.

“By going into the two-kilometre reservoir protection zone, you’re putting your drinking water source at risk of microbiological or chemical contamination,” Mr Trolio said.

The regional manager reassured his customers that their tap water was safe.

“Drinking water supplied from Harding Dam undergoes microfiltration, pH correction, chlorination and fluoridation. Water Corporation regularly monitors the quality of all drinking water supplies to ensure we supply water that is safe to drink. We also work closely with the Department of Health, who regularly reviews our drinking water quality data.”