Dams and dam water
- Of all raw water sources, you must take the most care when using dam water.
- It is very difficult to prevent contamination from plants and animals.
- The risk of illness is low for most people. It is higher for people with lower immune response, such as very young children, older people, and people with a chronic illness.
How can dams get contaminated?
Dams may get contaminated from:
- stock access
- native/feral animals
- stormwater run-off
- pesticides and fertilisers from farmland and forestry operations.
- Under certain conditions, dams can be prone to algal blooms which may deposit toxins in the water.
- These chemicals may cause illness in people and stock after drinking or bathing in the water.
- Boiling water does not remove the algal toxins.
- Activated carbon filters may remove some toxins.
Even if the dam water is used only for bathing and washing, there are still limit to microbiological contamination, which should not be exceeded.
How to ensure dam water is safe?
- To be certain that your water is safe, you may choose to have your water tested.
- Seek advice on collection, timing and the number of water samples from your local council.
- A fee may be charged for this service.
- 'One off' samples can be misleading.
- Untreated dam water should always be boiled used for drinking, cooking and washing food.
- Install water filters at your kitchen tap.
Can I treat my water?
Water may need to be treated to make it safer for drinking and other household purposes. Depending on your water source, you can:
- filter water to remove suspended material, microorganisms and some chemicals
- boil water to kill germs and remove some chemicals (although this will not remove toxins from algae).