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Water Quality Affected By Bushfires. Essay

2019 words - 8 pages

Part 1The bushfires have caused significant damage to water storage sites around the ACT. These sites include Bendora, Corin and Cotter reservoirs. After the firestorm swept through the catchment areas in January, the ground covers were severely burnt with much of the catchment vegetation burnt away. The soils surrounding the reservoirs became unstable by being exposed to intense heat and the loss of plant roots which left the catchments vulnerable to erosion and sediment accumulation. A storm in March 2003 made water from these reservoirs unusable, by washing soil, ash and charcoal and other debris left by the firestorm, into the streams of the burnt catchments. The sediments made the water turbid, added nutrients and salts and reduced the dissolved oxygen in the water. Consequently, water from these reservoirs had to be suspended. (Canberra times)The cotter river catchment is part of a national park and is heavily protected from outside activities, which may affect water quality. The water from this catchment is usually of high standard and normally does not require full treatment. Due to the run-off of sediments from bushfire -affected land, Bendora and Corin reservoirs are unusable. They will remain unusable for at least a year until new filtration equipment is installed at Stromlo Water Treating Plant. Bendora and Corin reservoirs have been offline since 8 April 2003 leaving Googong as the sole supplier of Canberra's water. The water from Googong foreshores is situated with rural surroundings including farms and small communities. The water before treatment at Googong is exposed to a lot of pollution from farming causing it to go through extensive treatment. Even with this treatment the quality of the water is not as high as that of the Cotter catchment. Even though the water is within the guidelines for Australian drinking water, it will never taste as good as the fresher water from the Cotter once did.The quantity of the water is a much bigger problem to that of the quality. Googong dam can not provide anywhere near what the ACT uses each day. The consumption of water each day used by the ACT is between 260-280 megalitres, Googong can only support 180 megalitres a day. (canberra times) This means that unless the water is somehow treated from the catchments directly affected by the fires, extremely severe restrictions would have be imposed. The water quality from Bendora is only now showing signs of improvement with the Turbidity rate starting to decrease. (Environment ACT). Mr. Woolard from ACT health who has been working closely with ACTEW to assess the condition of Bendora has said that he is hopeful that the Bendora reservoir will be available for Canberra's water supply soon. This will give Googong much needed support.The main aspect of the water quality change that had the most substantial detrimental effects was turbidity. The suspended solids that were washed into the water after the bushfires caused the water to become unusable....

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