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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.

Interesting facts about water

  1. Less than 1.5% of the Earth's total supply of water is accessible fresh water.
  2. Every year, polluted water kills more than 24 million people in the developing world. Most of those killed are children.
  3. Industry is only one source of water pollution. Other sources include sewage treatment plants, households, streets and footpaths.
  4. 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.

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 events, which can cause considerable interest and concern to the public because they're often perceived to be the result of pollution or contamination of waters. There are many causes of fish kills and a large proportion are due to natural events. In approximately half the fish kill events, the cause is not known. Where it is known the majority of cases are caused by one of three most common causes are low dissolved oxygen, pesticide/chemical pollution and sewerage discharge or other pollution. For further information please see the NSW Department of Primary Industries Protocol for Investigating and Reporting Fish Kills.

Who to Contact

  • Emergency response to water pollution incidents - Fire and Rescue (000).
  • Pollution of beaches, estuaries, tidal lakes, rivers, creeks, streams and lakes - Councils Environmental Health Services (02) 6670 2400.
  • Sediment and erosion control at construction sites - Councils Environmental Health Unit (02) 6670 2400.
  • Industry holding an Environmental Protection licence causing water pollution - NSW Office of Environment and Heritage/NSW Environment Protection Authority (131 555).
  • Industry without an Environmental Protection licence causing water pollution - Councils Environmental Health Services (02) 6670 2400.
  • Drinking Water - Councils Environmental Health Unit (02) 6670 2400.
  • Fish Kills - Councils Environmental Health Services (02) 6670 2400, NSW Department of Primary Industries – 24 hour hotline 1800 043 536, Office of Environment and Heritqage/NSW EPA 131 555.
  • Algal Blooms - Councils Environmental Health Unit (02) 6670 2400.
  • Pesticides - NSW Office of Environment and Heritage/NSW Environment Protection Authority (131 555).
  • Oil spillage in ports - Roads and Maritime Services (131 256).
  • Discharge from Vessels - Roads and Maritime Services (131 256). - Australian Maritime Safety Authority (1800 641 792).
Last Updated: 04 October 2018