Skip to Display Options Skip to Main Content
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Get the facts from the NSW Government. View Council's response to COVID-19 and the impact to services and facilities.
Aboriginal Acknowledgement A -  |  A +
Skip Navigation Links Home : : Environment : : Environmental Health : : Water Pollution

Email Link   Water Pollution

Water is a scarce and essential natural resource. Conserving and maintaining water quality is especially important in Australia, the world’s driest inhabited continent. Preventing or reducing water pollution protects our water quality and is essential to maintaining the health of our environment and our own quality of life.

Water pollution means an incident which there is, or is likely to be, a leak, spill or deposit of refuse, litter, debris or other matter whether solid, liquid or gaseous into or onto, waters, so that the physical, chemical or biological condition of the waters is changed or is likely to make, the waters unclean, noxious, poisonous or impure, detrimental to the health, safety, welfare or property of persons, undrinkable for farm animals, poisonous or harmful to aquatic life, animals, birds or fish in or around the waters or unsuitable for use in irrigation, or obstructs or interferes with, or is likely to obstruct or interfere with persons in the exercise or enjoyment of any right in relation to the waters.

Council only has jurisdiction to act on certain complaints, and shares the responsibility of water pollution issues with other government bodies. Please refer to the information below which outlines authorities for various water pollution types.

Fish kills

A fish kill is defined as 'any sudden and unexpected mass mortality of wild or cultured fish'. Fish kills are often very visible and cause public concern because they're often perceived to be the result of pollution or water contamination.

There are many causes of fish kills, and many are due to natural events. In about half the fish kill events, the cause is not known. Where the cause is known, the majority of cases are caused by one of the 3 most common causes:
  • low dissolved oxygen
  • pesticide/chemical pollution
  • sewerage discharge or other pollution
For more information see the NSW Department of Primary Industries Protocol for Investigating and Reporting Fish Kills. (external link)

Interesting facts about water

  • Less than 1.5% of the earth's total supply of water is accessible fresh water.
  • Every year, polluted water kills more than 24 million people in the developing world. Most of those killed are children.
  • Industry is only one source of water pollution. Other sources include sewage treatment plants, households, streets and footpaths.
  • Individuals pollute water by littering (including cigarette butts), pouring oils down drains and using chemicals on their gardens. These pollutants are then washed or blown into stormwater drains and local waterways.

Who to contact

Last Updated: