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Water Pollution - Senate Select Committee - Report together with Minutes of Evidence

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Report from the

Senate Select Committee on


Brought up and

ordered to be printed 10 June 1970


14 5

Printed for the Government of the Commonwealth by \V. G. MURRAY , Government Printer, Canberra


Report from the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution


NoTE: In counting the paragraphs on a page, any p:tn of a paragraph is -counted as if it were a whole paragraph.

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Printed for the Government of the Commonwealth by W. G. MuRRAY, Government Printer, Canberra

The Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution

Senator G . S. Davidson (South Australia), Chairman

Senator C. B. Byrne (Queensland)

Senator J. A. Mulvihill (New South Wales)

Senator E. W. Prowse (Western Australia)

Senator P. E. Rae (Tasmania)

Senator C. F. Ridley {South Australia)



We have met the enemy and he is us.

WALT KELLY, American Author


The Committee and Its Work

Main Conclusions

Main Recommendations

Part I Water Pollution: Facts and Analysis

Introduction .

2 The Nature and Origins of Water Pollution

3 Types of Water Pollution

4 The Extent of Water Pollution in Australia

5 The Main Problems

6 The Economic Implications of Water Pollution

7 The Legislative Control of Water Pollution in Australia

8 Guidelines from Overseas

9 Prospects and Choices

Part 2 Water Pollution: The Conclusions and Recommendations of the Committee




14 9



















The Committee and Its Work

Establishment of The Select Committee has the honour to present to the Senate the the Committee following report. and Terms of Reference On 7 May 1968, Senator Denham Henty, now Sir Denham Henty,

successfully moved for the establishment of a Select Committee of the Senate in the terms of the following resolution:

(1) That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and re­ port upon water pollution and quality of water for different uses in Australia, including (a) causes and effects, (b) methods of prevention and control, and (c) matters incidental thereto.

(2) That the Committee consist of Senators to be appointed by a subsequent resolution.

(3) That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place, to sit in open court or in private, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recom­

mendations as it may deem fit.

( 4) That the Committee have power to sit during any adjournment or recess of the Parliament.

(5) That the Committee report to th e Senate on or before 31 December 1968.

( 6) That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwith­ standing anything contained in the Standing Orders.

Speaking to the motion, Senator Henty, whose sincere concern about the problems created by all kinds of pollution throughout the world was well known to the Senate, stated that he regarded 'the quality of water as one of the most important aspects on which the committee will have to take evidence, which it will have to consider and in rela­ tion to which it will have to make a recommendation to the Senate'. In the debate that followed, members of all parties also expressed deep concern over the problems of water pollution and the quality of water in Australia. Senator G. S. Davidson, who seconded the motion, stressed the importance of the quality of water supplies for both the

present and the future, and said: 'That is an important element because in both contexts water becomes very much everyone's business , not onl y because of production in our rural areas, not only because of indus­ try and manufacture but also because of th e stability and wellbeing of

th e community in our rapidly growing metropolitan and urban areas'.

15099/10- IB ix

On 15 May 1968, also on the motion of Senator Henty, the Senate agreed to the appointment of members by a resolution in the following terms: (I) That the Select Committee on Water Pollution consist of six

Senators, three to be appointed by the Leader of the Govern­ ment in the Senate, two to be appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and one to be appointed by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate. (2) That the Committee elect as Chairman one of the members

appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. (3) That the Chairman of the Committee may from time to time· appoint another member of the Committee to be the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, and that the member sO'

appointed act as Chairman of the Committee at arry time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Committee. ( 4) That, in the event of an equality of voting, the Chairman, or the Deputy Chairman when acting as Chairman, have a casting


(5) That four members of the Committee, including the Chairman or Deputy Chairman, constitute a quorum of the Committee. ( 6) That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwith­

standing anything contained in the Standing Orders. Subsequently the Senate was notified, on 20, 21 and 27 August 1968, that the following Senators had been appointed to serve on the Com­ mittee: Senators C. B. Byrne, G. S. Davidson, J. A. Mulvihill, E. W. Prowse, P. E. Rae and C. F. Ridley.

These Senators have remained members throughout the life of the Committee.

Date of Reporting In the original resolution, the Committee was required to report to the Senate on or before 31 December 1968. However, on 27 Novem­ ber 1968, on the motion of Senator Davidson (Chairman) , the Senate agreed that the date for presenting the report be extended to 31 October 1969.

The life of the original Committee was ended by the early dissolu­ tion of the Parliament for the general election for the House of Repre­ se ntatives . The co nsequent shortening of the time ava ilable for comple­ tion of th e report left no altern ative to the presen tation of an in terim report to the Senate. The interim report, which was presented on 2 1 August 1969, recou nted the history and activities of the Comm ittee to that date, and concluded as follows:


5. Because of the broad scope of the terms of reference and the self­ generating nature of the inquiry, and the increasing public


awareness and concern, together with the need to appraise recent developments overseas, the Committee finds that it is unable to complete its report before the impending dissolution of the House of Representatives on 29 September 1969.

6. The Committee recommends, therefore, that a Committee with the same terms of reference be constituted in the new Parliament with power to consider and make use of the records of the present Committee in order to conclude the inquiry and report

on the work done during the present Parliament.

When the new Parliament first met on 25 November 1969, the Com­ mittee was reconstituted by the Senate and required to present its report by 30 June 1970. On 3 March 1970, on the opening of the Second Session of the Twenty-seventh Parliament, it was necessary for the Committee to be reconstituted again, as it had gone out of

existence when the Parliament was prorogued at the end of the First Session. The date for presentation of the report remained unchanged.

Officers At the first meeting of the Committee, held on 8 October 1968, .of the Committee Senator G. S. Davidson was elected Chairman. All other members, at some time during the inquiry, acted as Chairman under the terms of paragraph {3) of the resolution of 15 May 1968. Mr H. C. Nicholls,

Usher of the Black Rod, was appointed Secretary of the Committee. On 27 February 1969 Mr R. G. Thomson was appointed Assistant Secretary. On 22 August 1969 Mr Nicholls, owing to pressure of his other duties within the Department of the Senate, relinquished his

position with the Committee and Mr Thomson assumed the role of Secretary. On 3 February 1970 Mr D. W. Whitbread was appointed Assistant Secretary and served the Committee in this capacity until 17 April 1970.

Meetings of the Committee

On 4 March 1969, with the concurrence of the Minister for the Interior and the National Capital Development Commission, Mr C. J. Price, B.E., F.I.E.Aust., First Assistant Commissioner {Engineering) , National Capital Development Commission, was appointed Technical

Consultant to the Committee, and Mr F. C. Speldewinde, M.B.E., M.I.C.E., M.I.E.Aust., Investigation Engineer, National Capital Development Commission, was appointed to act in this capacity when Mr Price was unavailable.

Between 8 October 1968 and June 1970, the Committee held meet­ ings in all State capital cities, in Canberra and Darwin in the Com­ monwealth Territories, and in other cities and towns throughout Aus­ tralia. In all, 84 meetings were held, including 44 public hearings . In

addition, the Committee made 17 on-site inspections.


Witnesses and Evidence totalling 5,454 pages was taken from 233 witnesses Submissions representing Commonwealth and State Government departments and statutory authorities, local government authorities, a wide range of industry, community organisations, universities, primary producers,

conservationists and others. In addition the Committee received many hundreds of pages of submissions presented in writing which do not appear in the record of proceedings as sworn evidence.

Overseas The Committee sought and considered an extensive range of docu-lnformation mentary material from other countries, and from a variety of inter­ national organisations, in order to appraise the latest developments. overseas.


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Main Conclusions

The main conclusions of the Committee are:

Part of a Problem • Water pollution is only part of a much broader pollution problem which is threatening our whole national environment.

A Scarce Resource • Water is a scarce and valuable natural resource, more scarce in Australia than in any other continent.

A Deteriorating Asset

• Today there is a price on water, a price that is increasing steeply as the population grows and industry expands.

• Because polluters so often escape full payment of this price, water resources all over the country are being squandered by neglect or deliberate action, or by lack of administrative co-ordination. • Rivers, streams, lakes, coastline and underground aquifers are being

polluted in all States and Territories. • Some waterways can no longer be used except as sewers.

Problems • The main water pollution problems in Australia relate to sewage, and Causes industrial effluents and salinity.

• They are caused mainly by the lack of an effective pricing system, an abysmal ignorance of the causes and consequences of pollution, piecemeal and parochial administration of water resources, and half­ hearted and ill-directed methods of abatement.

Confused Values • The true weighting of pollution responsibility is reflected equitably neither in the financial costs of abatement nor in the social costs incurred in lost amenity and decreased efficiency. • Pollution has too often been justified by false economics. Easily

measured private profits have been used as a facile argument to justify intangible and immeasurable social losses. As the pressures to pollute have been economic, the pressures to abate will be most successful where they also are economic. Costs must be weighed realistically against benefits and paid for realistically by polluters.


Ignorance and Inertia • A general lack of water pollution experts and an almost complete lack of training facilities are manifest, and there is no concerted pro­

gramme of public education on pollution problems. • There are large gaps in the documentation of our water resources and there is no pragmatic programme of research into the causes and consequences of water pollution, or into its economics.

Diffused • There is nothing in the present piecemeal and parochial adminis-Responsibility tration of water to prevent the insidious growth of pollution excesses.

• The problem of pollution is so vast, the responsibility so diffused, and the ignorance of causes and consequences so widespread, that only a concerted national effort can save many Australian water resources from becoming unusable. • Adequate constitutional powers for such an effort are already avail­

able to the States and the Commonwealth. • There has been a reluctance on the part of many local and State authorities to enforce the existing laws relating to pollution control. The closer the relationship between the polluter and the enforcing

authority, the less stringent has been the enforcement. In fact, the enforcement authority itself is often a polluter on a much larger scale than the alleged offender. • The absence of, or variation in, standards and implementation

policies has led to a situation in which industries have been able to take advantage of this disarray in gaining the most favourable conditions when establishing a new polluter industry. • The overwhelming weight of our evidence suggests that order can

be brought to this chaos of authorities only if they are co-ordinated at the national level.

A National • The Committee concluded that the whole task of water resources Approach management could best be undertaken on a national scale.


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Main Recommendations

The main recommendations of the Committee are:

1. A NatiofUll Policy. Australia should adopt a national approach to the management of its water resources which sets out accept­ able standards, co-ordinates the aims and aspirations of State and local government authorities, and creates the machinery to

achieve them in balance with other national goals such as those for growth and development.

2. A National Body. The Commonwealth should take urgent steps to establish a National Water Commission. The functions of the Commission should include: (a) the formulation of a national policy on water resources

management; (b) an assessment of water resources and quality ; (c) programming for the conservation and orderly develop­ ment of water resources. It should also be the administering authority for water resources within the Commonwealth's jurisdiction.

The Commission should consist of a Commissioner and six full-time Associate Commissioners. The six Associate Commissioners should be appointed from a panel of nominations invited from the State Gove rnments, and each should, in relation to the consideration of policy matters,

have regard to, and liaise with, the State by which he was nomi­ nated. Each Associate Commissioner should be responsible for the direction of one group of disciplines within the Commission. To mobilise the interest of the numerous societies, voluntary organisations and individuals ded icated to the preservation of the environment, the Commission should set about the creation

of a suitable voluntary advisory body, with appropriate Federal and State organisations and reasonable financial support.

3. A Comprehensive Approach. The control of pollution should be undertaken by authorities representative of all interests.

4. Systematic Assessment. Regional and St ate authorities should be encouraged to undertake, with th e National Water Com­ mission a systematic quantitative assessment of water quality and to monitor regularly their wa terw ays and any pollution that occurs in them. Pending the formation of th e Commission, the Commonwea lth should encourage the interchange of data and the discussion of acceptable criteria .


PART 1 Water Pollution: Facts and Analysis

1 Introduction

2 The Nature and Origins of Water Pollution

3 Types of Water Pollution

4 The Extent of Water Pollution in Australia

5 The Main Problems

6 The Economic Implications of Water Pollution

7 The Legislative Control of Water Pollution in Australia

8 Guidelines from Overseas

9 Prospects and Choices



Cockburn Sound at Ku ·inana stained hy industrial u·aste

Blood and se1rage discharg ing into the Derll'ent Estuary

Th e Pienwn Ril'er. Tas111ania. receil·es l•·ater polluted by 111ining on th e Sal'age Ri1·er

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Australia is the driest continent in the world. About one-third of it is desert; more than half of it receives an average annual rainfall of less than 15 inches; and the average annual rainfall on the mainland is 16.5 inches, compared with 26 inches for all land areas in the world and 29 inches for the United States. 1 Even in the higher-rainfall areas, falls tend to be seasonal, or erratic, or both.

The continent's average annual volume of run-off has been estimated at 200 million acre-feet. This represents an average depth of 1 t inches, compared with 9i inches for all land surfaces of the world and 9 inches for the United States. Only 48 per cent of the continent drains into the ocean. If the run-off is related to this area only, it is still only 2t inches. 2 In the driest areas of the United Kingdom about 15 per cent of the rainfall normally runs off and about 3 per cent runs off in drought

periods. This compares with an average run-off for Australia as a whole of about 7 per cent. The Murray-Darling river system averages only 3 per cent, and run-off in most inland areas does not exceed 1 per cent. 3 Australia lies across a high-pressure belt of calms which is marked

by low total annual precipitation. Its northern areas are too far south to reeeive the heavy, well-distributed rains of the wet tropics and its southern areas are too far north to receive the good rains of the mid­ temperate regions. Moreover, Australia has a generally low relief. It has been estimated that less than half the continent has an altitude of more than 1,000 feet and that about 5 per cent exceeds 2,000 feet. 4 As it lacks the young, lofty mountain ranges of other continents, it also lacks permanent snowfields, and the opportunities for orographical rain­ fall are few.

As well as the problem of low rainfall, the country is faced with the problem of high potential evaporation because of high temperatures and low humidity. According to Anne F. T. Bauer of the Department of National Development, 'low rainfall and huge potential evaporation losses (which far exceed precipitation over much of the continent) limit

the flow of surface water in many areas to periods during and immediately after the wet season, which varies widely in its occurrence. In general, it may be said that in catchment areas where the rainfall is less than 20 to 25 inches annually there are no permanent streams and surface supplies are seasonal.' 5 Flow in most streams is va riable and most of those with good flows begin in the limited areas of higher lands

near the eastern coast.

Water is a resource that is unevenly distributed. Most of the surface water, as the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics pointed out,6 is close to the existing major cities and is heavily committed to them, largely for water supply.

Restricted areas of the inland benefit from irrigation, flood control , and hydro-electric or multi-purpose dam s in th e high run-off areas, but

!5099/70-2 3


c=:J 0- 10 Inches E2Z2i 10- 30 Inches 30-60 Inches Over 60 I nclles 0 500 of Mi les

Fig. I Australia, average annual rainfall

many of th em will have to turn eventually to underground water. There are two types of underground water: 'free' (or 'ground') water, and confined or pressure water, which is the source of artesian and sub­ artesian supplies. Groundwa ter occurs, generally speaking, throughout

the whole of Australia and is in the interstices or cavities that are com­ monly found in rocks in the upper 10,000 feet or so of the earth's crust.7 Confined water is found largely in a number of widely distributed basins, such as the 678,000 sq uare mile Great Artesian Basin extending into Queensland , New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory, and is separated from the groundwater above it by rock strata.8 Underground water is used mainly for pastoral purposes. The waters of th e Great Artesian Basin , for example, support most of Queensland's sheep and perh aps 20 per cent of its cattle. They are also important to th e pastoral industry in New South Wales and South Australia.


0 500

Scal e of Miles.


.'$ Hobart

Fig. 2 Australia, average annual evaporation in in ches

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Australia also has other water resources. It is an island continent, surrounded by the waters of three ocean s. These support a wide variety of marine life, are major traffic lanes, and help to provide natural har­ bours and many fine stretches of beaches .

Fresh water is one of this nation's carcest resources. As supplies are both limited and unreliable, they should be wisely conserved and well managed. Water is important to the Australian economy. It is a basic resource in the agricultural, fishing and pastoral industries. It is important to most manufacturing industries and to transportation. It is used widely for waste disposal and is a significant source of energy. It affects every Australian in his daily life. Everyone drinks water and everyone relies upon it for a variety of domestic services. Consumption in the larger cities is now about 100 gallons per bead per day and is increasing

rapidly. In some cities it is much greater than this.



I OLD .:

W.A .

1 /

- --"'--,

0 Wll U .}, BASI'\J ,, BASIN.//.-

0 500

Scale of M iles

Fig. 3 Australia, underground water


Most people also regard water as an important recreation resource. It is perhaps the most powerful magnet in outdoor recreation. It is essen­ tial to some leisure pursuits, and adds to the enjoyment of others. It is used by swimmers, surfers, divers, skiers, sailors, campers and picnickers. In fact, many of the more spectacular water resources, such as waterfall s and 'wild ' rivers, are more valuable for aesthetic purposes than for any others. They are valuabl e because people impl y want to look at them.

Anything that causes a deterioration in the quality of our water resources, th erefore, can be regarded as a threat to our national he alth , aesthetic enjoyment, safety and economic welfare.

Such a threat is posed by water pollution.

It is potentially one of the grave t problems facing this nation and it has wide biological, social and industrial implications. It is bound up


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e 500

Sca le o f M iles

Fig . 4 Australia, principal sedimentary basins

inextricably with other forms of pollution- with tbe co ntamination of the earth and the atmosphere, for example-because they all impinge on the same environment. As our population grows, and our industries expand, so also will the production of our pollutants. As our cities concentrate larger populations in confined areas, as our farmers clear

more land and use more chemicals, so the y will grow into even greater threats to our limited water resources. They not only will consume more water but also will pollute more, unless something is done about it Something, of course, must be done about it. Our water resources are

a heritage of the whole nation-a heritage which must be protected both for the people of the present and for posterity. But we must never allow our attitudes to pollution to be expressed only in national terms. Our water resources are part of the world's resources and our pollution problems also may be regarded as part of


on ·Pre s:;u re Bore

Fig. 5 Forms of underground water

the world's pollution problems. Pollution knows neither national boundaries nor political divisions . Just as the wind bloweth where it listeth, so all the rivers run into the sea; and into the place from

whence the rivers come, thither they return again. Pollution is thus a problem that demands international correctives. And this genera­ tion, which has found the power to destroy all mankind, is coming to realise that it must concern itself with such correctives, for they may affect the survival of all mankind. It has begun to see that, in the face of such global problems as population and pollution, no nation stands alone. As the Duke of Edinburgh said in December 1969, control of our environment can be effective only if nations can agree to their plans together and act in concert to put their plans into practice. 9

Mark Twain once sai d that everybody talked about the weather, but nobody did anything about it. Today everybody is talking about pollution. So far not much has been done about it. But talk is at last being transformed into action in some places. In 1967 the Council of Europe decided to name 1970 as European Conservation Year. More than 20 countTies are taking part in this project which , among other things, is aimed at the abatement of pollution. The member govern­ ments of the United ations have unanimously agreed to confer about the th ings man is doing to his environment by 'air and water pollution , erosion and other forms of soil deteriorati on , secondary effects of biocides, was te and noise'. In the past year there have been many other national and international efforts of a similar kind, but one of the most promising of all was President Nixon's call on 10 February 1970 to the United States Congress for a huge capital investment programme to fight

pollution during the next few years. He quite rightly said that the tasks that need doing require money, resolve and ingenuity and that they were too big to be done by govern­ ment alone. He proposed a comprehensive list of reforms and a pro­ gramme of anti-pollution action.


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.But there is room for neither satisfaction nor complacency about these recent dev elopments. So far they have been mainly talk, not action. As the Duke of Edinburgh told the European conservation con­ ference in February, all the impassioned speeches will be so much effluent under the bridge unless they are followed by drastic political action.

Getting political action on such problems i not always easy. Pollution is a tangled problem and at the same time a political paradox. Every­ body agrees that it is bad and that something should be done about it. But little is in fact being done in Australia. And that little is being accomplished within a tangled web of official authorities

pursuing slightly different ends witl1 vastly different means. They are operating in a political context in which there are few strong expressions of political opinion.

Political pressures in a democracy such as ours are normally generated by groups trying to advance their interests or correct what they believe to be a political imbalance in which their interests have been slighted. If a group is successful, society adjusts its parities or corrects the imbalances to accommodate the size and power of the gro up. But prob­ lems such as pollution and population growth are not normally the

special interest of any particular social group. On the global scale, they are not even the special concern of a particular nation or political system. In a vague way they are the problems of all mankind. Moreover, they are often the problems of tomorrow. Because they are only vague. potential threats, the political adjustments made are often equally vague and embody more promise than performance. Society is more easily convinced by the sight of human suffering and degradation, or of

physical depredations, than it is by the threat of them. Even in the face of inexorable menaces, it often refuses to believe in catastrophe, optimistically preferring an irrational hope. It tries to avoid argument, to tum its attention to less complicated matters and to hope that the prob­ lem will disappear.

But the problem of pollution will not disappear. What may disappear is the opportunity to find a sol ution to it that is cheap, rational and humane. If we wait too long, we shall be overtaken by events, for no matter how long it takes there will ultimately be a solution, even if it

is the total ravaging of the earth. All the sanguine hopes of the world will not preve nt nature from taking its catastrophic revenge on our indecision. There is time-but barely time-to escape that threat. We stand today at that fulcrum point in history when we must make the choice between an acceptable, humane environment suitable for pre­ serving human dignity or an environment determined by an uncon­

trolled acceleration of technology and begrimed by undisciplined discharges of industry.


References 1. W. H. R. Nimmo, 'The World's Water Supply and Australia's Portion of It', The Journal of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, Vol. 21, No. 3, March 1949 2. Nimmo 3. D. K. B. Tbistlethwayte, 'Water and Waste Water, and Water Pollution Con­

t rol in Australia', Conference Paper 2, Annual Conference, Institute of Water Pollution Control, Scarborough, England, 22-25 October 1968, p. 2 4. Sir T. W. E . D avid , Geology of th e Commonwealth of Australia, Vol. II, London, 1950, p. 3 5. 'Drainage Systems', a commentary accompanying the map on drainage systems

in the Atlas of Australian R esources, Department of National Development, Canberra, 1955 6. Evidence, p. 2295 7. E vidence, p. 2296 8. Australia's resources of confined water are shown in the Underground Water

map in the Atlas of Australian R esources and are discussed in an accompany­ ing pamphlet, 'Underground Water', compiled by the Geological Section, Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, from information provided mainly by the State authorities. 9. The Canberra Times, 15 January 1970



2 The Nature and Origins of Water Pollution

This Committee heard many definition of water pollution. While­ recognising that the definition, for legislati ve purposes, to be given to the words 'water pollution' is a matter of con iderable importance and varia­ tion, the Committee believes that a broad definition based on one· adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in February

1968 encompasses most of the propositions advanced :

Water pollution is an impairment of water function which has, or may have, an effect on subsequent water use.

The pollution of wa ter is almost invariably associated with the actions of man. Men have been polluting water from time immemorial but it is only in modern times that water pollution has become a widespread serious problem. It has been associated with a number of developments

but chief among them are urbanisation, industrialisation and the advance of technology.

Cities first appeared 5,500 years ago but large-scale urbanisation began only in the nineteenth century. Before 1850 there was no society in the world that was predominantly urbanised. By 1900 there was one: Great Britain. Today the majority of the population of every industrial

nation lives in cities and every year in almost every country urbanisation is growing faster. Australia is one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world. Today about 62 per cent of its people are concentrated in the ten towns of 100,000 or more.

Urbanisation is the process most nations experience in their transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy. This bas been the case in Australia, although here the industries seem to have followed the cities to some extent. Professo r N. G. Butlin has shown that in 1860 industry

accounted for a mere 5 per cent of the total output of the Australian colonies, although 40 per cent of th e total population lived in to wns .1 But as manufacturing grew in importance it stimulated further urban growth. Between 1901 and 1961 the proportion of workers in primary industry

declined from 33 per cent of the workforce to 12 per cent. The propor­ tion in secondary industry rose from 26 to 39 per cent, and in tertiary industry from 41 to 49 per cent. Tables 1 and 2 show the general trend in the growth of population and manufacturing industry in Sydney and Melbourne to illustrate the general trend of urbanisation and


Urbanisation and industrialisation have had important effects on water resources. Most towns and cities are established near good water supplies. As they spread either they engulf more countryside and thus more water resources, or they increase the use and demands on

existing resources. High concentrations of people cause high concentra­ tions of pollution unless effective action is taken to prevent it. At the same time, water near large concentrations of people becomes socially


TABLE 1 Population and industry in the Sydney Statistical Division


1933 1947

Population (a, b)

1,360,110 1,691,536

.......... ............... ..... ... .... ... ...

1954* 1,953,832

1961 2,203,464

1966* 2,541,307

Number of

Year factories(c)

1932-33 4,646

1946-47 9,006

Number employed( c)

113,253 265,505

--·- ·· ·-· ······· ...... ..... ... ..

1953-54 13,125 307,208

1960-61 16,098 360,662

1965-66 16,224 393,935

Value of

production(d, e)

78,120,000 280,398,000

783,494,000 1,375,400,000

1 ,982, 784,000

Value of land, buildings, plant and machinery(d)


117,876,000 221,518,000

575,724,000 1,243,640,000


(a) Population figures for statistical divisions were not calculated prior to the 1933 census. (b) The boundary of the Sydney Statistical Division was extended at 30 June 1966. Figures for 1966, 1961 and 1954 are calculated on the 1966 basis; figures for 1947 and 1933 are calculated on the pre 1966 basis, i.e. the series is not consistent over the period. But the impact of the change was less than 1 per cent ; so that the

general trend is illustrated. The dotted lines represent the break in the series. (c) Figures for 1966, 1961 and 1954 are calculated on the basis of the 1966 definitions of the Sydney Statistical Division; 1947 and 1933 figures are calculated on the pre-1 966 basis. (d) Figures for 1966 are calculated on the 1966 basis ; 1961, 1954, 1947 and 1933 figures are calculated on the pre-

1966 basis. (e) Defined as 'Value added' in the process of manufacture (i.e. va lu e of output less value of mate rials, fuel, etc., used). * Census years.

TABLE 2 Population and industry in the Melbourne Statistical Division


1933 1947 1954

1961 1966

Population( a)

1,052,674 1,292,688 1,524,111

1,984,815 2,230,580

Number of

Year(a) factories(a)

1932- 33 1946-47 1953-54

1960-61 1965- 66

7,606 10,703

12,1 82 12,976

Number employed(a)

217,848 260,961

314,108 361,653

Va lue of

production(a, b)


497,694,000 635,000,000

1,127,694,000 1,641 ,718,000

Valu e of land, buildings, p/ant(a) and machinery


180,974,000 67 1 '782,000

1,117,824,000 1,672,212,000

(a) The boundary of the Melbourne Statistical Division was extended at 1 January 1961. Figures for 196 1 and 1966 are based on the current definition; figures prior to 1961 are based on the pre-1 961 definition. (b) Defined as 'Value added' in manufacture (i. e. val ue of output less value of materials, fue l, etc., used).

more valuable simply because it is the water most easily accessible for leisure pursuits. The degree of pollution around towns and cities is not necessarily directly proportionate to population growth. Towns grow because industries grow, and the effect of increased industry can be much more devastating than increased population. The Director of the Melbourne Water Science Institute Ltd and Water Science Laboratories Pty Ltd, Mr C. D. Parker, told the Committee that the pollution load from some



factories in country towns can be several times that of the domestic sewage of the community. The discharge of one fruit cannery, for example, was equivalent to that of a community of 350,000 persons and the whey from a large butter factory manufacturing casein was com­ parable to the domestic discharge of 120,000 persons.2

The first major pollution problems a sociated with urbanisation and industrialisation were health problems. In the mid-nineteenth century, for example, London drew its water mainly from wells and rivers that drained cesspools, graveyards and tidal areas, and the city was often ravaged by cholera. Tragedies such as these led to adequate treatment

of water supplies in most advanced countries. Today the bacterial con­ tamination of drinking water is no longer a major problem in these areas.

The present concern with water pollution is associated mainly with other aspects of water quality: the correction of nuisances resulting from odours, soils, garbage and visible pollutants; the preservation of the aesthetic qualities of natural waters; the suitability of natural waters for

agricultural, recreational, municipal and industrial uses; and potential harm to the ecology of polluted areas.

Most of these occur as population densities increase, cities expand, and the products of new technologies are used more widely in industry, agriculture, and horticulture. Professor Denis Winston said, for example, that the population of Sydney was expected to increase from 2.7 million people to about 5.5 million by the year 2000. This would at least double the amount of waste to be disposed of, but would probably increase it three or four fold. 3 Mr H. C. Hunt gave a lucid account of what increased urbanisation had meant to the municipality of Bankstown. 4 At the end of the war the only problem was a local one, he said.

Uncontrolled burning of garbage at the garbage tip prompted complaints about unpleasant odours and the problem was solved in 1956 by getting a tractor to compact th e garbage. But in the 8 years while the need for that tractor was being transform ed into action , Bankstown was

growing rapidly in a large unsewered area and the municipality began to feel the profound impact of urbanisation. Creeks we re polluted by sullage water and the sanitary contractors found it impossible to dispose of the increasing quantities of night-so il. The Bankstown Municipal Council was forced to spend large sums on cleaning drains and water­ courses and, after entering into and taking over the sanitary contract, it

had to spend $500,000 on a sewered sanitary depot which was opened in 1957. Mr Hunt said that this overcame, to some extent, the problem of disposing of the night-soil. It no longer polluted the streams. But the disposal of night-soil had no effect on the sullage problem. Mr Hunt

said that in 1955-56 there was a public outcry in Bankstown over the lack of sewerage and this appeared to act as a spur to the sewerage authority. Between 1957 and 1960 the number of sewered premises doubled.

And it redoubled in the period 1960-63.


Prior to 1962, he said, the Council maintained swimming enclosures in the Georges River at Picnic Point, Lambeth Street Reserve, East Hills Park and Kentucky Reserve. Water samples taken up to 1960 indicated bacterial standards suitable for swimming. In 1960 the Govern­

ment Analyst's report concerning a batch of water samples indicated that some pollution existed. But samples of river water submitted to the· Government Analyst in 1962 indicated that this water was heavily polluted with bacteria, and as a result the Council closed all swimming enclosures to protect public health. But this act also meant the loss of a great public amenity. Since then the Council had restored this

by constructing three Olympic swimming pools at a cost of about $1 million. Mr Hunt said that following the closing of the river swimming enclosures an intensive investigation of the pollution of the Georges River was made. This established that the main source of pollution was the Fairfield treatment works. There was also lesser pollution from other sources. To overcome the problem from the Fairfield treatment works, the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, at great expense, extended the North Georges River sub-main to Fairfield. This eliminated the main source of pollution but there were still sewerage treatment works discharging into the river at Bankstown airport, East Hills migrant camp, Holsworthy military camp , Liverpool and Campbelltown.

All of these plants were liable to cause periodic pollution through mechanical and human failure, Mr Hunt said. Attempts had been made· to induce the Commonwealth Government to pump the effluent from the airport into the sub-main which traversed its property, but without success. Periodic pollution had been experienced from the airport plant.

'Generally speaking, there has been a considerable improvement in the bacterial pollution situation in the river over the last few years,' Mr Hunt said, 'but the results of samples taken indicate th at the water is still unsuitable for swimming. Sewerage extensions have continued,.

but there is still a group of people in Bankstown equal to the combined population of Bathurst and Orange without sewerage, and in the absence of this basic form of sanitation, the creeks and watercourses inevitably become polluted and in turn contribute to the pollution of the river. ' 5

That is not the end of the Bankstown story, but it is enough to show that water pollution is not always a simple or isolated problem. It is often pa rt of an intricate web of social, political, economic and bio­ logical problems. It can involve ordinary people, governments and big corporations; its cost may be levied in money, health or the loss of amenities; and it can be easily ignored or treated piecemeal in the political arena because in the past there have been no effective health. lobbies operating on a national scale in Australia. The Bankstown experience is therefore an example from real life showing that the abstract categories in the following section may represent no more than a simple way of breaking down a much more complicated problem for ·



17 5

References 1. N. G. Butlin, In vestment in Australian Economic Development 1861-1900, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1964 2. Evidence, p. 923 3. E vidence, p. 4469

4. Evidence, p. 4629 5. pp. 4629-30


3 Types of Water Pollution

The biggest water pollution problems in Australia are associated with the major cities. In most cases the causes are the discharge of raw or settled sewage and the discharge of industrial wastes either into the sea or into coastal waterways. Next in importance is the discharge of un­

treated, or inadequately treated, wastes from the processing of food and agricultural products in country areas with no sewerage or with inade­ quate sewage treatment facilities. These wastes come mainly from the canning of fruit and vegetables; the manufacture of butter, cheese and milk products; and the processing of meat, sugar, wine, alcohol and paper pulp. As the pollution load of one factory can far exceed that of the to wn's domes tic discharge, it can be argued, as Mr C. D. Parker argued, that the provision of town sewerage to most of the larger towns, and full sewage treatment to most sewered inland towns, is responsible for the very few instances of gross sewage pollution found in Australia. 1 Sewage wastes and those from factories processing animal or plant material are largely organic wastes.

Organic Wastes Organic wastes are those most commonly found in polluted water. They include the wastes from meat works, piggeries, fruit canneries, sugar mills and dairy factories; the solid residues from such industries as pulp making and food processing; and emulsified wastes such as tars, and lignins, from the petrochemical, textile, brewery, distilling and

agricultural industries. But the most common types of organic wastes are contained in domestic sewage, about half of which is organic and the rest min eral. The organic matter in sewage consists of about 50 per cent carbohyd rate, 40 per cent nitrogenous matter and 10 per cent fat. These substances are not in themselves fatal to animal life in a river, for example, but they cause a rapid decrease in the quantities of dis­ solved oxyge n in the water and thus create anaerobic conditions. 2

The high proportions of carbohydrates and proteins in organic wastes provide an excell ent nutrient for the grow th of micro-organisms. Streams under natural conditions contain a population of micro-organisms whose growth is hel d in check by the availability of food materials. The dis­ charge of organic nutrients into a stream stimulates the growth of aerobic micro-organisms which consume the dissolved oxygen in the water. As fi sh and other aquatic animals require dissolved oxygen to live, they

mu st eith er die or go elsew here. In water from which all the dissolved oxygen has been removed, anaerobic micro-organisms convert inorganic sul pbates and organic sulphur compounds into hydrogen sulphide, a gas which has an obnoxious odour.3

Excessive suspended solid matter will settle and create local sludge banks which may ferment. The black solids rise and discolour the water. They may also kill fish and create an obnoxious odour.4


17 7

Bacteria Organic matter is normally removed from water by the activity of bacteria and other living organisms. Thus, treating high levels of organic pollution can lead to high levels of bacterial activity, causing possible health hazards. Most diseases transmitted by water, such as cholera,

typhoid, fever, dysentery (bacillary and amoebic) and hepatitis, are of intestinal origin and are derived from sewage. Pathogenic bacteria, such as those of typhoid, cholera and dysentery, are the most hazardous forms of biological pollution as they present a direct danger to man; but

they do not survive for long outside th e human body and soon become harmless.5

The presence of pathogenic bacteria or viruses in sewage or inadequately disinfected sewage effluent may contaminate shellfish or represent a public health hazard for swimming.6 Non-pathogenic bacteria, such as the Escherichia coli (E. coli) group, are indicative of

water contamination by human or animal wastes and are used as indicators.7 The Bureau of Mineral Resources warned of the possible danger to groundwater from the disposal of bacterial wastes from sewerage

systems, septic tanks, abattoirs, hospitals, saleyards, universities and other institutions.8 This hazard, said the Bureau, was generally well known, but the presence of wetting agents in effluents was a relatively new hazard. Joints in sewerage lines deteriorated over time and leakage

was generally to the groundwater body. High standards of installation we re required in areas where the groundwater could carry the effluent into water supply points or into lakes and rivers.

Petroleum Oils Oils present two pollution hazards, one from the oils themselves, the and By-Products other from the effects which may result from cleaning up oil slicks.

Oils are among the least insidious of pollutants. They are also among th e most devastating. The great hazards they present have been spec­ tacularly demonstrated by such incidents as the sinking of the super­ tanker Torrey Canyon off Cornwall and Brittany in 1967, the leak from the shattered Liberian-registered tanker Arrows off Nova Scotia in February this year,9 the holing of the Oceanic Grandeur in Torres Strait

in March this year, 10 the Merlin A7 oil well blow-out in Bass Strait in 1968, and th e dark brown geyser of crude oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico from the Chevron Oil Co.'s Charlie platform in March 1970, after a fire in the off-shore well had been extinguished with a dynamite blast.I 1 Not all oil hazards occur at sea, however, In February 1970,

for example, a large oil slick polluted the banks and surface of the Yarra River for several miles, mainly between Abbotsford and Hawthorn,12 and another polluted part of West Lake in Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra, in March.13 In such restricted areas as rivers and creeks a

layer of oil may provide an impermeable interface which prevents the replenishment of the dissolved oxygen supply essential for the survival of aquatic life.


0 500

Scale of M iles

. obart

Fig. 6 Australia, locations of ports

Dr D. W. Connell pointed out that all installations sited adjacent to aquatic areas and handling either crude or refined petroleum oils have a vast potential for oil pollution. Although petroleum oils showed a wide variation in composition, he said, all of them contained some com­ pounds, such as benzene and toluene, which were partly soluble in water, and other compounds of higher molecular weight which were in soluble.

Oil slicks soil most things that come into contact with them. They make beaches and streams unusable for recreation; they blacken attrac­ ti ve coastlines; but th ey are most devastating in their effects upon wild­ life. Animals which spend part of their life on the surface of the water, such as birds, seals and porpoises, apparently suffer most from floating oil. 14 Birds' feathers may be cl ogged and flight made impossible. They may th en di e a slow death from ingestion of oil while preening, by sta rvatio n, or by absorbing poisonous oil constituents through their skin.

In th e United States, ducks have di ed in th ei r th ousa nds in oil-polluted


17 9

rivers and waterways and it has been estimated that every year more than a quarter of a million sea birds die around the coasts of Britain from oil pollution.l5 Apart from the dangers of flo ating slicks, there is also the danger

from oil's water-soluble toxic compounds, such as benzene and toluene. These are highly toxic to aquatic life and even in small quantities may cause widespread destructionJG Many of them are comparatively stable in water and may persist for a long time.

Although oil itself ca nbe dangerous, the effects of cleaning up slicks can be more so. It appears that the 6 million gallons of detergent used in th e attempt to clean up the 60,000 gallons of oil that leaked from the Torrey Canyon caused more damage th an the oil itself.

This Committee agrees with the statement made by Mr L. N. Etherton, Acting Assistant Secretary, Mari ne Services Branch, Depart­ ment of Shipping and Transport, that wi th three tankers of more than 300,000 tons in service and another of 500,000 tons in design, no nation could afford to be complacentY Mr Etherton pointed out that since the

Torrey Canyon mishap drew attention to the oil hazard there had been a series of similar disasters. Collisions had occurred between tankers . The large tanker Golden Eagle was stranded in the entrance to San Juan Harbour in Puerto Rico, the tanker World Glory broke up in June 1968

off the coast of Natal and released 45,000 tons of crude oil, and a number of cases of pollution from off-shore drilling operations had occurred, notably the pollution on the coast of Santa Barbara.* Mr E therton said that in Australia, because of the extremely long coastline, t this problem was one of great significance, because the pre­

vailing ocean currents generally tended to bring major spillages towards the coast. The west wind drift followed the endles s movement of the Roaring Forties and divided, forming the Western Australian current. While this current flowed towards the Western Australian coast and the Great Australian Bight, the South Equatorial current of the Indian Ocean swept towards the Coral Sea and divided to form the eastern Australian currents. Their progress was through Torres Strait, where the move­

ment might be masked by tidal influences, towards the coasts of Queensland, New South Wales and eastern Victoria. Only in the north­ west of Australia was the drift away from the coast. 18 Mr Etherton said that there were three possible methods of treating major oil spillages : dispersal of the oil ; sinking it by absorbing it into other materials ; and removing it mechanicall y. Destruction by burning,

as was attempted with the Torrey Canyon di saster, had proved almost impossible once the oil had disperse d in the form of a slick. He explained

* There was an off-shore oil well blow-out nea r Santa Barba ra, California, in January 1969. A large amount of very viscous crude oil poured into the Santa Ba rba ra Channel for II days and smalle r amount were reported fo r some time after. T he slick created by the leaking oil was estimated to have covered, in patches and long fingers with clear water between, some 200 to 800 square

miles (Evidence, p. 3626). t About 12,000 miles.



that the most effective method was still the use of dispersants. He said that crude oil formed two types of emulsions with sea water. There was the dark, thick water-in-oil type consisting of water enclosed in sheaths of oil, and lighter-coloured oil-in-water emulsions in which drops of oil were dispersed in water. The first type was formed in the centre of a slick and the latter around its edges. The essence of the dispersant treatmen t was to turn the water-in-oil emulsion into the latter type so that it could spread on in the very large vol ume of the seas. In this operation it was necessary, not only to carry the di spersant to the scene of the spillage, but also to ensure that it was thoroughly mixed with the oil by agitation, such as that created by ships' propellers, and by moving through the slick at high speed while distributing the dispersant. The amount of dispersant required varied according to the type and magnitude of the oil spillage, though a ratio of 1 gallon of dispersant

to 1 0 gallons of oil appeared satisfactory for most crude oils. But large quantities of dispersant could be disastrous to certain forms of marine life. More prec ise information was required, however, before it would be possibl e to say how disastrous.

Mr Etherton said that the second method-endeavouring to sink the oil by spreading highly absorbent oleopbilic (oil-seeking) powders -had the advantage of not being lethal to marine life. But it also bad several disadvantages: it required a very large quantity of material

(about 1 ton of powder to 1 ton of oil), clearance was relatively slow and there was th e danger that unless the oil sank in relatively deep water and rapidly silted ove r, tidal and current movements might break up the su nken floccules and allow the oil to rise to the surface . It had al so been sugges ted that th e su nken oi l might have an adverse effect on deep-sea marine life which otherwise escape the effects of floating agents.

The mechanical collection of oil floating on the surface was effective only if there were relatively small quantities of oil in smooth waters. Similarly, barriers such as the booms that bad been developed to date were effective only in comparatively calm water conditions. In rough conditions the oil was washed over the boom. Such methods might, however, be quite effective in the protection of estuaries and sheltered waters, but generally would not confine spillages in the open sea. Experiments were, of course, being conducted with other developments such as pneumatic barriers, he said. 19

Mr Etherton also said that in the event of a major disaster, consider­ able use would be made of large quantities of a recently developed dispersant wh ich was claimed to have a minimum effect on marine life. The Committee found that there was extensive research continuing in

this field, particularly into the bacteriological effects. It investigated the dispersant Corexit 7664, one of several dispersants being marketed. This was developed a year after the Torrey Canyon disaster by Esso Research and Engineering Co., the principal research affiliate of

the Standard Oil Co. (New Jersey).


18 1

According to a company pamphlet, 20 oil on the sea decomposes slowly under the natural forces of evaporation, oxidation and the action of bacteria. One of the most promising lines of research makes use of this action. Consequently a slick in the open sea causes

comparatively little damage to marine life. But a cohesive, intact slick acts as a barrier to the transfer of life-supporting oxygen

from the atmosphere. The greatest damage to marine life is done in the intertidal or shore area and, in the Torrey Canyon disaster, the damage in waters near the shore was done not so much by the oil but by the various types of toxic emulsifiers used to break up the

slick. Corexit was developed, therefore, to disperse oil before it reached intertidal areas. It is a surface-active, water-based, proprietary material which forms a fine dispersion of oil in water when sprayed on the oil and mixed vigorously. It contains a surface-active agent that is partly compatible with oil and partly compatible with water. By reducing the interfacial tension between the oil and the wa ter, Corexit promotes rapid droplet formation upon the application of mixing energy, and the dispersement then acts to prevent the dispersed oil droplets fro m

re-forming into a slick.

Corexit has been used as a dispersant after many large oil spills and bas apparently proved effective, although a full range of tests has yet to be completed. The company warns that the material is not a magic potion whose very existence can be regarded as a solution to all problems resulting from th e accidental spillage of petroleum at sea. 21

Chemical and The major sources of inorganic pollution are industrial waste s which Industrial Wastes contain acids, alkalis, and toxic inorganic compounds such as ammonia, chlorine and heavy metals. Most of these are fatal to fish, to micro­ organisms, and to plant life existing naturally in the water. 22 Artificial

chemical contamination usually occurs by the indiscriminate pollution of streams with trade wastes treated inadequately prior to discharge from factories. 23

Most metallurgical industries employ washing and pickling processes which can add dissolved metal salts and acids to water wastes. The steel industry normally uses sulphuric and other acids for pickling, and fluorine solutions are used in the production of aluminium. A wide variety of metal salts is present in the effluent from brass mills .

Large concentrations of inorganic chemicals can seriously impair water for some industrial uses. Acids and alkaline substances can be extremely corrosive and salts can cause problems of scale in boiler plants and cooling systems. The hardness of water may also be

increased. As inorganic chemicals are not degradable biologically they are not removed in sewage plants, although chemical treatment will reduce the hardness of water.


One local government authority after another complained to thi s Committee about the illegal discharge of trade wastes into its sewers when sewerage works were not designed to cope with them. The Metro­ politan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, Sydney, said in its

submission that such illegal discharges were 'a major curse in the operation of sewage treatment works and ocean outfalls'. 24

'Despite vigilant patrols by the Board's inspectors,' the submission said, 'illegal discharges of acid or other noxious materials occur inter­ mittently, and this may induce problems in the management of the sewage treatment works and also cause the evolution of gases from sewerage vents or works, giving rise to complaints'. The submission

added, 'The Board has been obliged to take strong action in dealing with the discharge of illegal trade wastes, to the extent of disconnecting one chemical works temporarily from the sewerage system, and requiring many industries to install and maintain trade waste plant to provide adequate pre-treatment before discharge of wastes to the sewers'. 25

Detergents Australians have seen from time to time televi sion pictures of suds floes bubbling along on rivers and streams in or near their large cities. The Queensland Littoral Society, for example, has had reports 'of foam sometimes several feet deep on the Bremer River, Nerang River, Downfall Creek, Oakey Creek and numerous small streams in

the Brisbane area'.26 In Australian streams the floes are normally com paratively small. In other countries they are much larger and the phenomenon is more striking. The Wisconsin State Board of Health, for example, reported 'a wall of foam thirty-five feet wide, three hundred feet long, and fifteen feet high' in the Mississippi River. 27 In many places suds floes have become a river navigation problem and

drivers on roads parallel to the waterways often find their windshields smeared by wind-borne shreds of foam. In West Germany the Ministry of Health bas deplored the dangers created by foam covering naviga­ tional signals, and in Denmark visitors peering over the battlements of Hamlet's castle, Elsinore, have been as impressed by the modern suds in the stream below as by the historic castle.

Foam is a problem not only on watercourses but also in the kitchen. In some places housewives who draw themselves a tumbler of water from the kitchen tap find that it invariably bas a 'bead' on it.

Behind most foam floes there is a story of non-biodegradable deter­ gents. Detergents are classified in the industry as biodegradable and non-biodegradable, or in layman's language, as soft and bard. A soft detergent is one which is broken down by the bacterial action of a sewage treatment works or a septic tank system . A bard detergent passes

through the system without being broken down and then persists in the environment.



The foam problem has emerged since World War II as the use of hard household detergents has largely replaced the old granulated, powdered, or flaked soaps. By the time the detergents arrived, housewives had been conditioned by advertising to measure the efficiency of their cleaners by the quantity of suds they produced.2 In the post-war years

one new detergent after another had it s co ntainer emblazoned with slogans such as 'Oceans of Suds' and 'Gives More Suds Than Any Soap Known'. When foa m became a problem, television commercials began to talk about 'controlled suds', 'low suds', and 'safe suds'. This pro­

duced what th e adve rtising men called the 'suds conflict'. Housewives accepted that low suds were better for their washing machines but were afraid that they washed less effic iently. The advertising men then came up with 'concentrated suds' which combined 'high-suds cleaning power and low-suds washer protection'. Such campaigns were not altogether

successful. Summing up the position in 1964 in the United States, where, after th e Government had threatened legislation, industry volun­ tarily agreed to reformulate synthetic detergents to make them soft, Thomas Whiteside wrote:

Considering the number of commercials that now extoll low-suds laundry detergents, one might reasonably assume that the rising tide of suds in the American kitchen has at last been checked. It is certainly true that the sales charts for low-suds de tergents have been creeping

up over a period of time. And it appears to be true that the producers of one or two brands of high-suds detergents, to keep competiti ve pace with th e low-suds products, have adjusted the formulas of their pro­ ducts to lower the suds level. But it also appears to be true that most housewives, having been subjected to a lifetime of advertising campaigns

designed to impress it upon them that suds and cleaning power were somehow synonymous, are continuing to use high-suds detergents in th eir washing machines.29

These points might well be considered in conjunction with the evidence of Dr M. J. Flynn who, as a member of the Synthetic Deter­ gent Sub-Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council , said that the June 1969 Conjoint Meeting of the Common­

wealth and State Ministers fo r Health had accepted an assurance from the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Au stralia that: Industry would change from the use of hard to soft detergents on a voluntary basis.

The changeover wo uld be limited during the initial period to house­ hold detergents which com prised more than 70 per cent of detergents marketed in Australia. The changeover would be accomplished by 31 December 1971.

A minimum biodegradability of 80 per cent, as estimated by the modified United Kingdom presumptive test and the Husmann con­ firmatory test, would be achieved. Industrial and other selected uses of synthetic detergents presented

special technical problems which required detailed investigation.


Dr Flynn said the liaison sub-committee would continue to report on progress from time to time, examine the problems of non-household detergents, and report on import prohibitions that might be necessary in due course. No legislative action was planned until the Federal and State Governments had reviewed the progress of the voluntary com­ pliance of

Pesticides Pesticides are substances used for destroying, repelling or controlling insects, weeds, fungi, nematodes, rodents, birds or other forms of plant and animal life which are pests. They include plant regulators, defoliants and desiccants.31 In general there are three main types of pesticides: the chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as DDT an d chlordane; the chlorinated naphthalenes, such as dieldrin, aldrin and endrin; and the organic phosphates, such as parathion and malathion.

The Assistant Secretary of the Export Inspection Branch of the Department of Primary Industry, Mr I. H. Smith, said that the main problem caused by pesticides related to their accumulation in animal tissue. Although there had been much speculation about the possible

adverse effects of pesticide residues in water, most of the dangers were of theoretical rather than of practical significance.32 'There is , however, a practical problem resulting in the accumulation in aquatic micro­ organisms of the minute traces of such residues which must inevitably occur in water and the concentration of such residues by higher creatures which depend on such organisms for food. The concentrating effect along the food chain can result in significant levels in fish , shell­ fish and aquatic birds,' he said. 33

Dr Connell said that insecticides were highly toxic to aquatic life and that sub-lethal concentrations bad caused a complete loss of repro­ ductive capacity in some fish. He said that a number of accidental discharges of insecticides into ri vers bad occurred in recent years, including the discharge of parathion into the Brisbane River during a fire in a chemical factory. This was followed by a fish kill.

Mr Smith said that there were no known instances of damage to agricultural or animal production from the traces of pesticides which found their way into surface water from agricultu ral uses of pesticides. Overseas investigations had shown no tendency for such resid ues to be carried in groundwater, because the chemicals were absorbed by soil and destroyed gradually by soil micro-organisms.

He said that the main sources of possible contamination of water by pesticides were:


1. Industrial effluent from timber treatment, wool mills, and so on. 2. Domestic sewage and municipal insect control projects. 3. Used containers and un wanted pesticide. 4. Aerial application, especially in cotton, tobacco and rice growing

and possibly in forestry operations.


5. Aquatic weed control. 6. Drift from agricultural operations.

Under Australian conditions, sources 1 to 3 were probably the main contributors to any pollution that did occur, but no extensive investiga­ tions had been carried out by State or Commonwealth authorities by which the degree of pollution could be judged.34

Soil Erosion Mr Smith said that there were two types of soil erosion, natural and accelerated. Natural erosion devel oped and subsided over long periods, and allowed time fo r natural migration or adaptation of flora and fauna. But accelerated erosion was a devas tating and self-reinforc­ ing problem arising from the di sturbance of the whole bal ance of the

environment by human acti vity. It added immensely to the concentration of dissolved salts in a stream and to the load of soil particles. This load of particles could cause diffi culties downstream by both chemical and ph ysical action. T he mai n probl ems we re phys ical, arising from the

insolubl e load of th e stream. Erosi on of th is kind was self-accelerating in that it fir st removed from headwater areas the upper absorbent layer of soil of high humus content. 35 Mr Smith commented: With continuing erosion, vegetation on the poorer lower soil horizons

tends to degrade to hardy weed species. The seeds of these species then become available in large quantities and cause trouble downstream by infesting crops and pastures. These weeds may also chok e water flow , thus increasing deposition o f silt. A further problem is that silted rivers

tend to form shallow braided courses leadin g to increased susceptibility to further floo din g.

A classical example of soil erosion and sub se quent deposition has occurred in th e Hunter Valley which exhibits a range of problems. Progressive erosion of the watershed in the area and the accompanying confinement of stream flo w in downstr eam · areas led up to increasing

flo ods reaching their peak in the 1950s. These floods affected both the farm lands and the large industrial towns of th e lower Hunter and caused great financial loss. The cost of dre dging silt from Newcastle Harbour alone was estimated to be some $ 1 million in 1952-53 follow­

ing big floods in 1952.36

Fertilisers The addition to water of reasonable quant1t1es of such nutrients as nitrogen and phosphorous compounds is beneficial to fish and bird life. They becom e dange rous only in excessive amounts. The nutrients then stimulate th e growth of large algal blooms and water plants which pre­

ven t water move ment an d the replenishment of di ssolved oxygen. Decaying plant material can then induce excessive bacterial activity and increase the consumption of dissol ved ox ygen, without which most


Wa ter Salinity and Irrigation

aquatic life cannot survive. 3 ; Mineral nutrients causing such conditions can originate in sewage or domestic animal wastes but a prime suspect in many cases is the run-off from fertilised areas of land.

Jn th e United States hundreds of water bodi es are affec ted in this way. The outstand ing examples are th e Great Lakes, Lake Washington and th e Potomac and Miss issippi rivers. 38 Here th ere are some of the most striki ng exa mples of eutrophication. This is the very rapid increase of nutrients, partic ularly phosphates, in a body of water, causing exces­ sive weed growth or the formation of algae. It is usually encountered in slow-m ovi ng waters, such as lakes, and can be caused by the di s­ charge of sewage, fe rtilisers and agricultural wastes. The phosphate levels in some American waters are now more than twice the le vel needed to support nuisance algae.

Water sal ini ty, or the contamina tion of water by mineral salts, is a big probl em in Australia, es pecially when associated with irrigation.

Salinity has two sources: rai n brings sal t in from the sea and the so il retains mineral salts that are deri ve d from rock weathering.

The Ac ti ng Deputy D irector of Agriculture, Department of Agricul­ ture, West rn Australia, Mr G. H. Burvill, gave the Committee some idea of the role played by rain-borne sea salt. He said that the rain­ bearing cl oud s for th e south-wes tern part of Western Australia origi­ nated ove r the Ind ian Ocean. Salt crystals from sea spray were pro­ bably the common nuclei for the raindrops. Salt reaching the ground in ra indrops had been measured at more than 100 lb per acre in Perth and the amounts bad decreased when measured further inland.39

R ain and irriga ti on carry both sea salt and rock sal ts into under­ ground aquifers and streams. I n add ition, man makes his own contri­ bution by clearing large areas of land of natural vegetation, and replac­ ing it with agricultural grasses, clovers, volunteer annuals, fruit trees :md so on . Mr Burvill said that in many agricultural areas in Western Australia the natural groundwater was saline and had risen closer to the surface as agri culture developed, sometimes ruining earth tank . Surface waters had also become more saline. He said that one explana­ tory hypothesis was that natural yegetation had absorbed through its roots and transpired through its foliage more of the rainfall than agri­ cultural crops and pastures. lt was believed that more water thu found

its way in to the groundwater.40

On th e matter of river sali nity, Mr I. H. Smith said that all streams carried dissolved sa lts and th e total load of salts increased downstream as a river received the inflows from an increasing number of tributaries. Where the water flow was good the salinity might remain reasonably

low bu t where slu ggis h streams flowe d through arid areas their sluggish­ ness, coupled with eva poration, could concentrate the salt content.



Irrigation of soils that had a high salt content might increase the rate of salt leaching and thus increase a river's salt content, he said.41 The classic case of river salinity in Australia is the Murray River. Salinity became so acute during the low-rainfall year of 1967 that the

River Murray Commission engaged a firm of consultant engineers to inquire into and recommend ways and means of ameliorating the salinity.

In the upper reaches of the Murray, water quality is generally good but it deteriorates progressi vely downstream. Salinity increases because of seepage from land adjoining the river, artificial drainage from irri­ ga ted land, inflows fr om trib ut aries with hi gher salinities, and rain-borne sea salt. Citrus growers in some areas have had to install under-tree

sprinkler systems to prevent defolia tion of trees caused by saline water from overhead sprinklers, and at Loxton in South Australia large sums of public capital have been spent on a major drainage system.

Mr Simon Pels, who had studied the problem as a Churchill Fellow, pointed out that the Murray Rive r was used as both a source of supply and a carrier of waste waters and that experience all over the world had shown that irrigation of a region without provision of an adequate

drainage outlet would lead to salinity problems. He said that the Kerang area alone contributed, vi a Barr Creek, an estimated 180,000 tons of salt per annum and the estimated total contribution from all drains in the upper sector of the river was 250,000 tons. He quoted 'reliable sources' as stating that in the sector between the South Australi an

border and Morgan 500,000 tons of salt entered the river annually as a result of groundwater inflow. 42 There is no doubt that the Murray is an exemplar of a pollution problem that will become of increasing importance to Australia.

Mining Wastes Pollution of streams by llllDJllg was te s has been a problem in many parts of Australia for a long time and the problem is

likely to increase with the current expans ion of the mining industry. Tables 3 and 4 give some idea of how quickly mining is expanding in Australia. In 13 ye ars between 1954 and 1967 the number of mines increased by almost 1,000 and the value of production more than


TABLE 3 Number of mines

Date Metallic No n-metallic Fuel Construction Total

1954 818 638 306 687 2,449

1955 870 743 277 712 2,602

1960 746 702 221 892 2, 561

1961 805 755 208 1,056 2,824

1965 765 802 177 1,234 2,978

1966 782 973 167 1,276 3,198

1967 875 1,098 160 1,280 3,413


TABLE 4 Value of mining production

Date Metallic Non-metallic Fuel Construction Total

$ $ $ $ $

1954 107,706,000 11 ,240,000 96,374,000 20,856,000 236,176,000

1955 133,508,000 11,538,000 95,192,000 24,778,000 265,016,000

1960 120,828,000 17,052,000 99,334,000 40,156,000 277,370,000

1961 274,490,000

1965 21 5,273,000 23,589,000 133,658,000 70,652,000 443,173,000

1966 272,851,000 26,422,000 142,849,000 71,300,000 513,421,000

1967 300,474,000 26,730,000 159,035,000 78,708,000 564,947,000

Mining pollution is usually caused by the discharge of ore-pro­ ·cessing wastes or underground water into a stream or by leaching from slag dumps. It would be possible to genralise about these but the Committee believes that the case history on the pollution of the

Molonglo River by the mine at Captains Flat, compiled by the Bureau of Mineral Resources, shows adequately what can and does happen in other places. 43

Mining began at Captains Flat in 1880, but was not continuous until 193 8. Until then the Molonglo River, which meandered past the town, was regarded as an excellent trout stream and there was no record of pollution. But during August 1939 a slimes pond used for the settlement of tailings from the flotation plant burst its retaining wall and discharged polluted water into the town reservoir. This was apparently regarded as a minor mishap as there is no record of complaints about pollution.

But in July 1943 there was another collapse of a slimes dump and an estimated 40,000 cubic yards of tailings (siliceous gangue, pyrite, galena, chalcopyrite an d sphalerite) slipped into the town reservoir. This displaced an equivalent volume of water. Large quantities of tail­ ings and weathering products (iron, aluminium, magnesium, copper,

and zinc sulphates) were washed into the Molonglo River. The river was flooded and tailings were deposited for a considerable distance downstream causing widespre ad destruction of vegetation, which was destroyed by the acidity of the river and its excessive metal concentrations. In 1970, 27 years after the mishap, some of the areas affected have not fully recovered. The river itself cleared in 10 to

14 days but the tailings on the flood plain still continue to release metal (mainly zinc) in solution and it is leached into the river. Now, 8 years after the mine ceased operations, its slimes dumps are still a potential source of pollution, not so much from the possibility of further collapse as from the leaching of soluble oxidation products from them during wet weather.

The mine polluted the river not only from its slimes but also from the acid water it pumped from its lower levels into Copper Creek which flowed into the Molonglo River. Waste water from the flotation plant and other mine drainage also flowed along the same route. This water contained iron , copper, lead, zinc, arsenic, antimony and sulphate ions

derived from natural oxidation of the ore, as well as, from time to time ,


18 9

thiocyanates, sulphides, and phenolic substances derived from treatment of the ore. Some of these were deposited along the river bed. After the mine closed in 1962 the acid mine water continued to overflow from the abandoned workings and it was not until December 1966 that the mine was effectively sealed. A marked decrease was subsequently noted in the zinc concentration in the river.

The Captains Flat story is a cautionary tale of mining pollution. It shows a good trout stream being ruined as a river is used as a mining drain. It shows that the liquid discharges of a mine are not necessarily its most dangerous water pollutants. And it shows also that a dead

mine may remain a very live source of pollution.

Radioactive Wastes A radioactive waste is a solid, liquid or gaseous waste produced dur-ing the manufacture or use of radioactive materials. 4 4 Its level of radio­ activity is usually classified as high, medium or low. Wastes with a high rating may be billions of times more radioactive than those rated low.

The four possible sources of radioactive water pollution are from radioisotopes used in hospitals, universities and industry; mining and uranium production; nuclear reactor operation; and fuel reprocessing plants.

Radioisotopes are normally used in solid encapsulated form and cannot create a liquid waste problem, but they may be used in solution for such purposes as medical diagnostic and therapeutic treatment. Their low-level liquid wastes can usually be safely discharged into the sewerage system after simple treatment such as storage for a few days to permit natural decay of the radioactivity.

Two threats are posed by mining and uranium production: the release of solid tailings into watercourses and the release of liquid effluents containing organic solvents and metallic impurities. Nuclear reactors produce small quantities of low and medium level liquid wastes which have to be treated before discharge. The total radio­

activity discharged from a reactor with the proper safeguards will usually be less than 10 curies per year. Sydney Harbour, by comparison, contains about 150 curies of naturally occurring radioactivity, mainly radioactive potassium 40.

Plants to reprocess spent fuel from nuclear reactors have not yet been built in Australia but they will be when nuclear power stations are established. Spent fuel contains fission products which are concen­ trated as a liquid-waste residue during reprocessing. The level of radio­

activity in this waste is too high to permit discharge into the environ­ ment. The wastes contain materials such as strontium 90 with ve ry long half-lives (30 years or more). To prevent accidental release they must be stored under very reli able conditions. The method favoured in other countries is long-term tank storage, although this is regarded as an interim measure only.


Dr Connell said that it would be extremely hazardous for Australia: to embark on a program me of nuclear power station construction with­ out facilities to check for the output and appearance of radioactive substances in the environment. Most forms of life could be killed by sufficiently high concentrations of radioactivity and sub-lethal amounts usually had an adverse effect on growth and reproduction rates. More­ over, radioactive wastes at a very low level could accumulate in animal tissues in the same way as insecticides and ultimately reach dangerous concentrations. He said that even in the most carefully planned powe r stations accidents could occur. In the United States large quantities of radioactive materials were released from one station before a fault in a generator could be repaired . In the same country, 12 million tons of radioactive debris from mining had contaminated the water supply of at lea t seven States.45

Fores try Forestry, in general, is mo re of a potential than an actual threat to water resources, but the potential is great. Almost 50 per cent of ti· main water-producing land in Australia is forested and most of it is at the headwaters of the main streams running either inland or coast­

wards from the Great Dividing Range. 46 More than 80 per cent of the estimated average annual stream flow of 281 million acre-feet comes from that part of Australia which receives an average annual rainfall of 30 inches or more. This area covers 387,000 square miles, or 13.1

per cen t of the total lan d area, and is confi ned to a stri p about 100 miles wide along the south-eastern an d northern coastlines; a strip about 60 miles wide around the south-western tip of Wes tern Australia; and almost the whole of Tasmania. Within these strips are an estimated 37 million acres of productive forest and 50 to 75 million acres of 'protection' forests which have recreation value and which influence catchment behaviour.

There are several possible ways in which forests can pollute water. Two of them, we are assured, may be discounted if commonsense forest management practices are adopted. The first is the conversion of nati ve eucalypt forests to exotic coniferous plantations. It has been argued that the programme of increasi ng Australia's oftwood planta­

tions by 75,000 acres per annum for the next 30 years will cause an increase of water use and a decrease in water quality during the con­ version period. This may ha ve an effect on water yield and should be a subject for contin uing study. It bas also been argued that the soil disturbance associated with clearing will contribute undesirable quan­

ti ties of sediment to the main streams. The second threat is posed by grazing in forested catchments, particularly in alpine and sub-alpine regions. The Forestry and Timber Bureau of the Department of ational Development assured the Committee that the conversion pro­ gramme could be carried out without adding a lot of sediment to the



main stream channels and it said that grazing is no longer widely practised in forested catchments.

The threat of high-intensity bushfires is more significant. Bushfire heat may cause the surface of the soil to deteriorate and produce a pro­ nounced hydrophobic effect. After heavy rains the run-off is accelerated and large quantities of soil may be carried into streams. This may cause large fish kills and, thus, furth er pollution. Burning off the

accumulation of leaves, twigs, bark and low-growing shrubs on the forest floor by a light fire during early spring or late autumn reduces bushfire risk and run-off losses. The Bureau argues that the practice, when properl y managed, can be both safe and desirable. Any slight im­

pairment in water quality may be offset by a gradual decline in water yield and a greatl y increa sed chance of having the entire catchment area burnt by a destructive bushfire.

H eat Rivers, lakes and estuaries have a natural temperature pattern which in the absence of industry and population varies with atmospheric and weather cond itions. This pattern of temperature determines the basic biological behaviour in the aquatic environment. Cooling systems which

add heat to the receivin g waters dras tically alter this environment.

Most industries, particularly those concerned with smelting and power generation , need large amounts of water to provide cooling. Power plants are particularly notable in this regard, as the natural inefficiency in converting heat into electricity creates a large heat loss, and the lost heat must be disposed of. Typical temperature increases for the coolant water in a power pl ant are from 10 to 16 degrees F ah renheit.

Such temperature increases alter the entire balance of aquatic life and may eliminate some of it altogether. The growth of nuisance algae can be increased and the corrosive acti vity of chemical pollutants is increased.

/R eferences 1. E vidence, p. 923 2. Evidence, p. 1752 3. E vidence, p . 19 20 4. Evidence, p. 922

5. Evidence, p . 1752 6. Evidence, p. 923 7. E vidence, p. 1753 8. Evidence, p . 2298 9. T he Canberra Times, 11 , 12 February 1970 10. The Sydney M orning H erald, 4 Mar ch 197 0 11. The Canberra Times, 12 March 1970 12. The Age, Melbourn e, 27 February 1970 13. T he Canberra Times, 13 March 1970 14. Evidence, pp . 1924-5 15. 'Danger! Oil -Poll uted Seas', The UNESCO Courier, September 1962, p. 10

16 . E vidence, p. 1925


17. Evidence, p. 3514 18. Evidence, pp. 3514-5 19. Evidence, pp. 3516-7 20. Evidence, p. 3618 21. E vidence, p. 3628 22. Evidence, p . 1752 23. Evidence, p. 1623 24. Evidence, p. 1499 25 . Evidence, p. 1502 26 . Evidence, p. 1930 27. Cited in 'The Suds Conflict' by Thomas Whiteside, The New Yorker, 19

December 1964. A good short account of the detergent problem and the role of advertising. 28. Whiteside, p. 46 29 . Whiteside, p. 60 30. Evidence, p. 4800 31. Evidence, p . 2816 32. Evidence, pp. 2816-7 3 3. Evidence, p . 2817 34. Evidence, pp. 2817-8 35. Evidence, p. 2820 36. Evidence, pp. 2820-1 37. Evidence, p . 1931 38. The Environmental Pollution Panel, President's Science Advisory Com­

mittee, R estoring th e Quality of Our Environment, The White House, Washington, November 1965, p. 7 39. Evidence, pp. 2579-80 40. Evidence, pp. 2578-9 41. Evidence , p. 2823 42. Evidence, pp. 4540-1 43. Evidence, pp. 2307-9 44. Most of this section was compiled from the submission made by Dr R. K .

Warner of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, Evidence, pp. 2345-7. 45. E vidence, pp. 1933-4 46. This section was compiled from the submission of the Forestry and Timber Bureau, Department of National Development, Evidence, pp. 2386-93.


19 3

4 The Extent of Water Pollution in Australia

Australia Generally This Committee did not set out to document and classify every· instance of water pollution in Australia. But it did try to discover the general patterns of pollution. From our very general investigation of the problem it is obvious that water pollution in one form or another

spread widely and generally throughout the continent. Wherever man settles he also pollutes. The more highly concentrated the settlement, or the more industrialised the economy, the more concentrated is the pollu­ tion . But water pollution does not end with urbanisation and indus­

trialisation. Some of the new technologies associated wi th agriculture are poisoning our countryside just as some industrial discharges are soiling. our cities . There is not one State in the Commonwealth with waters that are all pollution free, nor are our shores lapped by one ocean that is not being used somewhere as a repository for the refuse of our society.

Though the Committee was told by some witnesses that water pollu­ tion was not a major problem in Australia, very rarely was any attempt made to define what a major problem was. However, the contrary view was put, and the best evidence we received relating to the seriousness. of the problem came from the Chief Chemist (Research), Metropolitan

Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, Sydney, M r D. K B.

Thistlethwayte. He ga thered together evidence which reflected th at given by other witnesses. Mr Thistlethwayte said that interest in water supply was largely concerned with surface waters and mai nl y confined to­ aspects of quantity rather than quality. In only a few places had pollu­ tion and trade waste discharges reached serious levels. Problems caused. by urban run-off and sullage from unsewered areas were comparatively widespread but generally ignored. Special aspects of pollution from

natural or pseudo-natural causes were tolerated and largely overlooked. More serious problems, such as salination from irrigation fields , received substantial attention only during long periods of drought, and pollution from grazing lands and the like had received very little attention.l

T hese general views have some substance, as Mr Thistlethwayte had attempted to relate Australian pollution levels to those of other countries. He pointed out tha t Australia acc ommodated more than 12 million people in 3 million square mile s at an average density of four

people per square mile. This compared with a mean population density for the United Kingdom of about 600 people per square mile. 'Taking the average run-off at 0.09 and 1.1 cusecs/ mile respectively,' Mr Thistletbwayte said , 'the gross equivalent loadings become 44 persons/

cusec for Australia and 550 persons/ cusec for the U.K., each as a whole. From these ratios it seems reasonable to conclude that, except perhaps for some particular local concentration of industry, pollution levels in Australia would be much lower than would be observed ge nerally in the U.K. However, if allowance were made for animal

populations-say 200 million total cattle, sheep, pigs and horses, with a total popul ation equivalent of say 500 million-expected pollution levels might be more nearly comparable; that is, one would expect relatively low total levels of pollution in Australia as a result of sewage and industrial wastes, but considerable pollution from farmlands.'

Mr Thistlethwayte said that neither of these sources of pollution had been deeply studied in Australia but by using typical coliform counts it appeared that many streams in Europe were much more highly polluted than those in Australia. Coliform counts of up to 500,000 per

100 millilitres had been reported in European streams. Typical coliform contents of Australian streams, in organisms per 100 millilitres, are shown below:

'Natural' streams

Dry-we ather flow Flood flow

Polluted streams

1. Sewage polluted full y recovered­ Dry-weather flow Flood flow ..

2. Rural pollution­ Dry-weather flow Flood flow


Up to about 2,000

500-1,000 3,000-5,000


Up to 10,000-20,000

Mr Tbistlethwayte said that microbiological pollutiOn was the kind most commonly fo und in Australia. This should have sugges ted that parasitology was a field worth inves ti gation because of the relativel y large an im al population, but little if any attention had been paid to it.

Pollution involving high biochemical oxygen demand (or BOD) ought not to be common in Australia because of the high proportion of sewage discharge at ocean outfalls. In 1965 an estimated 55 per cent of the population used public sewerage and about 60 per cent of the sewage was treated. This indicated an overall position favourable for BOD control. Nevertheless, many cases of local pollution occurred and were accompanied by significant or even complete deoxyge natic:>n of river or estuarine waters due to discharges of strong organic wastes

(sometimes sewage overflows, or even treatment works efHuents). 2 Mr Tbistlethwayte's paper was the closest the Committee got to an overall view of pollution in Australia. Like most such pioneering work, it had to make do with rough statistics and broad estimates, but it gave a general idea of what could be expected in Australia as a whole. The further the Committee went, th e more we realised how original M r Thistlethwayte's work was, because we found it difficult to ob tain such general views of pollution eve n in respect of specific States, and quite impossible, because of fragmented authority, to obtain such a view in respect of many single cities.



Given the fragmentary nature of the evidence, it was impossible to construct a detailed and coherent view of pollution in Australia. What we have tried to do, therefore, is to construct from the evidence we got, some impressionistic pictures of the pollution problem in each

State and Territory of the Commonwealth . These are far from complete pictures and they are affected fir stl y by the weight and bias of the evidence given to us and secondly by the enormous gaps in what was available. The phrase 'weight and bias' is used here only to record that each witness presented his evidence in the light of the limitations and exigencies of hi s own position and experience. For example, the con­ servationist who saw birds and marine life affected by an oil spill, or by the discharge of toxic industrial waste, tended to take a view different

fr om that of a company representative grappling wi th all the kinds of human error that can lead to such an occurrence, or that of a depart­ mental official charged with policing all the man y situations in which such an incident can occur. To compensate for some of these inade­ quacies we have tried to piece togeth er a gene ral picture of the extent of certain types of pollution such as that caused by sewage and salinity.

It is perhaps worth mentioning here that much of the evidence given by State and local government authorities emphasised the legislation av ail able to counter pollution problems but there was comparatively little ev idence on the actu al problems themselves. There seemed to be a general official belief that because means existed ends were achieved. Too often we heard of an authority's past success in eradicating a specific source of pollution. Too rarely did we hear of the range of current problems that were fa cing it. Those of the past had been solved because 'control had been effective' and those of the present seemed always to be , mys teriously, 'under active investigation and control'. In places harbouring many instances of gross pollution the

official image projected was one of a land whose streams purled purely beneath a southern sun because they were guarded zealously by altruistic citizens, sanitary industrialists and the most pollution-conscious of the nation's bureaucrats.

New South Wales The picture we constructed of water pollution in New South Wales was a sketchy one. Without doubt the major area of pollution was in and around Sydn ey. We heard evidence of pollution at Newcastle, some evid ence of the pollution of coastal streams and some relating to inland stream s and mining, but we beard very little evidence at all relatin g to the areas of the St ate west of the Great D ividing Range, although

the Department of Public Health said that pollution of inland and coastal stre ams used for town water supplies was a problem throughout the State because untreated or inadequately treated sewage and trade effluents were discharged into them. Repeatedly in our hearings through­ out Australia we heard this story of no treatment or inadequate treat­

ment of sewage and trade effluents, and it was certainly true of Sydney .

:5099 J7 (}-4 35


f­ ::J 0



















/ ,,,, NEW SOUTH

/1 .:l

/ • • \ 1••n•l1'i"•' l ol

I ' :)I')IJljt'


0 144

Scale of Miles VICTORI A


--- - Drainage Otv tstons

I Darl ing R 1ver Basin II Murray R 1ver Basm 111 Coasta l R 1vers Basm ..._.... Main R eservo trs

\\\\\\\ Great Div1d1ng Range

Fig. 7 Water resources of New South Wales


The area of operations of the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage an d Drainage Board, Sydney, extends from th e Hawkesbury River in the north to Ki ama in the south, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Blue Mountains. It totals some 4,000 square miles and includ e:-. th e whole of the Sydney area and the Wollongong-Port Kembla industrial complex. The Board serves almost 65 per cent of the State's population and 22 per cent of the total Australian population.3 Of the Board's 2.9

million water consumers, 76 per cent are provided with water-carriage ewerage. This means that about three-quarters of a million people in the Board's area have no sewerage service available to them. It means also that the disposal of house hold drainage in unsewered areas of

Sydney is one of the important causes of water pollution.• One of the



most grossly polluted streams in the State is the Georges River. It is polluted from a variety of sources including industrial effi.uent and garbage seepage, but among the most significant are drainage from un­ sewered portions of bordering municipalities, sewage overflows and the discharge of septic tank effi.uent into the river. 5 The deterioration of

water quality in this stream is evidenced by the closing of all swimming enclosures controlled by the Bankstown Municipal Council on the Georges River.6

Effluents from unsewered areas are not the only source of pollution related to sewage. The sewerage system itself is an important polluter, not only from overflows into coastal streams but also from the discharge of effluent into the ocean. Most of Sydney's sewage is discharged by

three ocean outfalls at Bondi, Malabar and North Head (Manly). Under favourable climatic conditions, said th e Board,7 the sewage effluents were carried out to sea. However, under conditions due to unfavourable winds, such as northerly drift caused by winds from the

south followed subsequently by easterly winds, some of the beaches in the metropolitan and South Coast areas were regularly contaminated with sewage matter, particularly grease. At Bondi and Malabar, the Board admitted, there was more than grease. Solid material from local

rubbish tips and marine debris, too, were present. What the member for Manly in the Legislative Assembly, Mr E. D. Darby, objected to in particular was certain residues of modern society which are not broken down in treatment processes.8 At Bondi, according to Mr D. J. Morey,

an alderman of the Waverley Municipal Council, there were similar materials, 'a significant brown stream which locally is known as the murk' near the sewage outfall-this was verified by the Committee during an on-site inspection-oil pollution, and debris from ships.9 The situation is much the same at Newcastle, where th e Hunter District

Water Board !s discharging an average flow of 84 million gallons of sewage a week at Burwood Beach, and pollutin g various nearby beaches according to the vagaries of the wind, and the Hunter River is adding to the pollution where it discharges into the sea. 10

Sewage is th e main source of pollution in and around Sydney and the sewage problem is closely related to the growth of the city . It was sewaoe and th e menace of urbanisation that concerned the New South "' Wales Oyster Farmers Association. The oyster industry in that State

centres on the Georges River and Botany Bay. It produces about 100,000 sacks a yea r and has an annual gross turnover of about $4 million . 'Over the years,' said the Association in its submission, 'the land adjacent to the industry's grow ing areas has been heavily urbanised. This has introduced a pollution problem which is not of the industry's making. In particular, the lack of efficient sewerage systems and the

establishment of rubbish dumps adjacent to growing areas have increased the dangers from po11ution.' 11 Just what these dangers were was outlined by Mr G. C. Wells and Dr R. A. Edwards of the Department of Food Technology, University


of New South Wales. They pointed out that shellfish had long been recognised as a potential source of disease because the waters in which they were grown were frequently polluted by sewage. 'When shellfish ingest sewage-containing bacteria,' they said, 'the bacteria remain in

their alimentary systems for some time before being ejected in faeces. Frequently, however, the bacteria are present at harvesting and may remain viable throughout storage an d distribution and so may directly infect the consumer. '12

In 1967 they tested four oyster-growing sites and found that all exceeded at times the maximum acceptable E . coli level of 200 bacteria per 100 millilitres of oyster flesh. The count at one site was invariably above that level and once reached 160,000 E. coli per 100 millilitres.

The test period was April to June and it could reasonably be expected that pollution levels would be higher in the summer.

They listed the possible sources of pollution as sewage treatment works at Fairfield and Liverpool on the bank of the Georges River, a water board pumping station near the edge of Woolooware Bay which had raw sewage overflows during heavy rain, overflowing connecting sewers along the river, council rubbish tips on the shores of Woolooware Bay, large unsewered residential areas on the southern side of the river,

and the effluent from septic tank systems.

'What, then, lies ahead for oyster farming in the Georges River?' they asked. 'If a bacteriological standard is set in similar fashion to overseas standards, probably no site on the river would yield satisfactory oysters at all times. In the major growing areas there may be difficulty in meeting the standard 50 per cent of the time. Wh at then are the sol utions to this problem? They appear to lie in two major

directions. Firstly, it has been shown overseas that it is technic ally possi ble to purify polluted oysters in tanks of clean water by means of the natural functioning of the oysters. Commercial application of these principles would mean major changes to th e oyster farming indu try and greatly increased plant and operational costs. Secondl y, th ere is a responsibility on public health authorities and other agencie to reduce substantially the levels of pollution in thi s particular waterw ay . In view of the diverse sources of pollution it would be very difficult to eliminate all such sources. One of the major needs as we see it , and as is indicated by our rainfall data, is the need fo r a complete an d efficient sewage system in all those areas that drain into this river. ' 13


The Metropol itan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board described the illegal disch arge of trade wastes into its sewers as 'a major curse in the operation of sewage treatment works and ocean outfalls'. 14 TIJegal discharge of acid or other noxious materials into the sewers


19 9

occurred intermittently. One chemical works had had to be temporarily disconnected from the sewerage system to prevent such actions, and other industries had been required to provide adequate treatment of their effluents. These discharges disturbed the operation of sewage

treatment plants and created unpleasant odours.


The Committee also heard evidence that sewage was polluting various streams. The Colong Committee submitted that, with the exception of the Kowmung River, every major tributary of the Warra­ gamba storage was polluted: the Coxs Rive r by sewage; the Wollondilly

by sewage, cattle and sheep; the Tonalli by arsenic from mines at Yerranderie; the Harrys River by sewage from Jenolan Caves Guest House; and Kedumba Creek by sewage from the Katoomba treatment works. 15


These are only a few of the kinds of pollution occurring in New South Wales. We heard evidence that some parts of Sydney Harbour were marine deserts, that pollution had caused the closing of most of its swimming pools and that factories were polluting many parts of the

urban area. We also heard some evidence of the pollution of streams by mining-the evidence contains a good case history of the pollution of Black Creek near Cessnock16-and we have already outlined the prob­ lems caused by mine dumps at Captains Flat and the urbanisation

problems experienced at Bank:stown. It can be seen that New South Wales, like mo st of the other States, experiences almost the whole range of pollution problems.

'Victoria Water pollution problems already exist in many parts of Victoria and they are increasing.!' The Commissioner, State Rivers and Water Supply Comm iss ion. Mr K. D. Green, sa id that, from a State point of vie w, he did not believe the situation was serious but the potential for

serious problems existed. A map supplied by the Commission shows th at the main areas affected are various rivers, reservoirs and large expanses of waters such as Port Phillip Bay, Westernport Bay, coastal waters adjacent to towns discharging sewage effluents or raw sewage

into the sea, an d the Gippsland Lakes.

The main types of pollutants are effluents fro m sewage treatment plants, untreated sewage effluents , sept ic tank effluents, domestic sull age, treated and untreated trade waste s. milk wastes. thermal


pollution, pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, manure from feedlots, mining wastes, saline di scharge from irrigation areas and ground­ water, and heavy nutrient loadings. Salinity in the Murray River, though a major problem in Victoria, is not discussed here, as it is dealt with in the next chapter.

The effec ts of pollution in Victoria range from bacteriological and toxic contamination of inland waters, used for domestic supplies, to excessive sa linity in rivers used for irrigation, and the excessive growth of algae an d weeds in estuaries and coastal waters. The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission said that watercourses in the unsewered outskirts of Melbourne and near many Victorian towns had been polluted, causing conditions which were not only offensive but also hazardous to public health. The di scharge of septic tank effluents into drains and the di scharge of the drains into streams was 'quite common in the unsewered districts of this State'. The overflows of septic tanks might contain pathogenic bacteria and disease organisms in concentra­ tions only slightly less th an those in raw sewage. 1


Sullage wastes (kitchen, ablution and laundry waste water) pose a ·significant problem in Victoria. To take one example, results of ·chemical and bacteriological examinations carried out by the Melbourne :a nd Metropolitan Board of Works along Dandenong Creek and some

o f its tributaries in 1965-66 showed high counts of faecal bacteria, which ori gin ate only in the faeces of human beings, animals and birds. •rt would seem therefore,' said the Commission, 'that in the Dandenong C reek catchments (of which only the Dandenong and Springva le districts are sewered), the drains and streams are serious! y poilu ted by

wastes of hum an origin. During the la st drought period, some diverters from these streams used wastes of this quality to spray-irrigate vegetables for sale in the Melbourne area. ' 19 The Commission said it had ex perienced difficulties itself res ultin g from th e di sc harge of sullage wastes to its works. Some years ago at Red Cliff the shire council had been permitted to discharge sullage into

the Commission's underground pipe drains which served a horticultural a rea. 'The put refacti on of grease and organic matter from the sullage in the "silt trap" type manh oles and in the pipes of the Commission drainage sys tem became so offensi ve th at it became virtually impossible

to have thi s system properl y maintained, and finally th e sull age drain age from the town had to be excluded,' said the Commission.20 The Commission had al o been confronted with problems in rural areas ari sin g from the di charge of animal manure. washings, dairy wastes and piggery wastes to open earth drain age sys tems. This ca used obno xious odours, increased weed growth, and hi gher maintenance

costs. It could also result in undesirable polluti on of streams into which th e drain s di scharged. 21


20 1

Although a wide range of pollution problems certainly exists at State level , a very wide range can also be experienced at local levels, as the Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage Board showed. The Board said that although the pollution load of the lower Latrobe River had been

significantly reduced over the past decade, the follow ing sources of pollution still existed in varying degrees: wastes from milk factories; discharge from sand-washing plants; surface water run-off from brown coal briquetting factories and power stations; increased stream tempera­

tures due to power station cooling water circulation; discharge of saline water from power station ash sluicing activities; discharge of nutrients and, possibly, pesticides from pastured areas; discharge of town storm­ water drainage; and occasional spillages of wastes, including phenolic gas wastes, due to breakdowns or malfunction s of industrial plant.

Pesticides and weedicides had caused cumulative toxic effects on aquatic life, and milk wastes were another hazard. Increased quantities of nutrients had caused excessive weed and algal growth in streams. The discharges from milk factories and the run-off from farmyards

and piggeries had caused aesthetically unpleasant conditions by creating obnoxious tastes, odours and greases. Industrial activities and sewage discharges had increased the suspended solids, decreased the dissolved oxygen content, and increased the threats to aquatic life in streams in

the Latrobe Valley. At the same time, increasing consumption of water for domestic and industrial purposes was reducing the amount of water available for diluting these wastes. 22


But without doubt the biggest local pollution problem exi sts in the State capital itself, which accommodates nearly 20 per cent of Aus­ tralia's population and provides an estimated 30 per cent of its industrial output. In the 10 years since 1959 the population, at present 2.2 million

people, had increased by 600,000 and in the next 25 years it is likely to double. 23 Melbourne and Metropo litan Board of Works sub­ mitted that the prevention and control of pollution in an urban

environment was largely dependent upon the provision of sewerage services. It then wen t on to say that the estimated backlog of sewerable houses in the metropolis as at January 1968 was 63 ,000. To this had to be added an other 10.000 to which the sewer was avail abl e but not

connected. 24 The Board told us a story that became famili ar to us as we moved from city to city: The rapid expansion of Melbourne's population largely due to immigra tion and the resulting growth of housing developm ent in the outer suburbs in the post-war years outstripped the Board's financial

resources for the provision of sewerage services. The steep increase in the number of unsewered premises led to an increasing pollution of m etropolitan watercourses by sullage waste.


the unsewered population within the Boundary of thE Metropolis for Sewerage Purposes rose from 66,000 (5.3 per cent) in 1947 to 378,000 by 1961; the unsewered population was reducec. to 322,000 in 1966 but may still be as high as 138,000 in 1985, eve11 if only 5 per cent of the resident population remains unsewered.

In addition there may be considerable pollution of watercourses b) sullage coming fro m the unsewered portion of the population living in areas not yet controlled by the Board.

If the population expands as expected in the Transportation Study, 938,000 persons may li ve in such areas by 1985 and provision o j satisfactory sewerage service, sewage purification and effluent disinfec­ tion and disposal may possibly be beyond the resources of the L ocal Sewerage Authorities which are at present responsible for the planning and provision of sewerage services for these areas.

Before 1975, the quantity of sewage to be disposed of daily by th e Board will be double that in 1947, then 60 million gallons per da y. Th e existing disposal system is approaching capacity and the Board is confronted over many years with large capital expenditures on new disposal systems. 25

Melbourne thus presents the familiar picture of a State capital. R apid urbanisation and industrialisation are engulfing the surrounding rural lands and water resources. The city is creeping ever closer to streams th at we re until recently regarded as rural. Suburbia is breaking out in a rash of brick and tile around once des ':! rted foreshores. Unsewered areas are overflowing into watercourses and sewage itself is a frequent source of pollution. Jndustry is spilling its wastes into the Yarra Rive r and other streams, and periodically local authorities have to take ad hoc

action to 'save the stream' from somebody's carelessness or ignorance. Most of the general run of urban pollutants are either causing problem '> already or threatening to do so, and the prospect for a city with such a high growth rate and unco-ordinated anti-pollution authorities is one of steady and insidious deterioration and ultimately a chronic pollution problem.

Queensland In no other State were we abl e to obtain such a good general picture of pollution as in Queensland . This is due mainly to the Chief Sewerage Engi neer, Department of Local Government, Mr L. de W. Henry. I n a serie of excellent papers submitted as evidence Mr Henry provided a systematic survey of pollution problems throughout the State, including those caused by the sugar, meat, and fruit and vegetable processing

indu He also demonstrated some mobile monitoring equipment which had proved effective in measuring pollution. The followin g summary is drawn mainly from the work of Mr H enry.


20 3

Queensland, with an area of 667,000 square miles, has 3,236 miles of coastline and lies between 10 degrees and 29 degrees south latitude. A narrow mountainous coastal region rises to the Great Dividing Range which runs roughly parallel to the coast. From the divide the country

slopes gradually to the west and is mainly rolling plains with a few mountainous areas to the north-west. The mountains are low, the snow­ falls infrequent, and few of the rivers truly perennial. The average annual rainfall on the coast is as high as 180 inches per annum in the tropics

and is generally greater than 30 inches. West of the divide, rainfall decreases from 30 inches to 5 inches in the south-west.

The population of Queensland is about 1,768,000 and is concentrated mainly in towns on the coastal strip. The heaviest concentration of people is in the south-east corner and most of these live in the State capital, Brisbane (population 833,400 in 1969).


A State grant of up to 50 per cent of the cost of construction encouraged most towns to provide both a reticulated water supply and a water-borne sewerage system. More than 75 per cent of the population have public water supplies and most of these supplies are either fully treated or chlorinated. About 40 per cent of the population have

sewerage connected to their residences and about 5 per cent have septic tanks. There are 78 sewerage systems in operation or under construction outside Brisbane, serving 581,251 people, and another 69 being planned. leaving only four places with populations of more than 1,000 having

neither scheme nor plan. In Brisbane about 450,000 people are served by 22 systems, of which 21 have treatment plants. This accounts fo r about 70 per cent of the population of the city. There is no evidence of beach pollution caused by the main sewage outfall at Luggage Point, just north of the mouth of the Brisbane River.

Sewage appears to be not as great a pollution problem in Queensla nd as in some of the other States. A sample analysis of pollution complaints for one year shows that sewage accounted for 4, primary industry for 2 and secondary industry for 28. All ten fish kills reported

attributed to industrial wastes being discharged directly into water­ courses . Sewage pollution is not, of course, as obvious as many industrial pollutants.

Most of the large coastal rivers and a few of the inl and ri ve rs in Queensland are polluted to some degree but pollution of coastal waters is not generally significant. Sewage pollutes the Brisbane River, the Pioneer Ri ver and Cleveland Bay. A single hailstorm has increased the

turbidity of the Brisbane River from a normal 10 parts per million to 150,000 parts per million, thus overtaxing a treatment plant and passing on 300 parts per million to the consumers. The plant's pumping


0 240

Scale of Miles



Mt. Richmond • H ughenden• ,



' _,.,.-,,_ ., ... ----r

... -.,

r . Winton

/ _J

/ , ..........


/ I

, / Capricorn __




Fig . 8


' / ,-'

' I /

Queensland, showing annual rainfalls, river basins and sewered towns

pond on the river has also been affected by algal blooms caused by agricu ltural run-off. Treatment of these increases the cost of water purificat io n. There is some aesthetic nuisance from balls of fat, paper and oth er objectionable matter and some evidence of health risk but apparently no record of disease resulting from the di scharge of raw se wage. Pollution occasionally occurs in other localities because of overflows and bypasses during wet weather or pumping station break­ down or power failure. The di sposal of septic tank efflu ents into street




Sugar cane

Pineapples Breweries Butter Cheese

Pasteurised milk Powdered milk Greasy wool Scoured wool

Sheepskins Wool mills Abattoirs-Cattle (No.)

Sheep (,) Pigs (,)

Poultry(,) Tan neries-Hides and skins Leather

20 5

channels, stormwater drains and dry watercourses has caused nuisance in most towns and is of considerable importance in Brisbane and in the larger unsewered seaside resorts. There is presumptive evidence that typhoid infection can result from bathing in sea water contaminated by

septic tank effluents.


Queensland's main industries are listed below together with the 1961 gross values of annual production.


Primary $

Meat 130,458,000

Manufacturing Raw sugar

Wool 97,556,000

Dairying and poultry 72,756,000 Butter and cheese Meat


127,074,000 41 ,9 32 ,000 140,55 8,000 124,000,000

49,150,000 43,270,000 259,688 ,000

Agriculture 203,442,000

Fisheries 3,176,000

Mining 89,120,000

Other foods Sawmills Clothing, etc. Meta ls

Other 161,604,000

Almost all of these industries are actual or potential sources of water pollution. Mr Henry has estimated the biochemical oxygen demand and solids, in pounds weight per annum, for some of them. The figures given are for 1961, as this is the latest year for which such calculations have been made.

Quantity BO D Suspended solids

8,686,000 tons (cane) 28,662,000 52,113,000

1,319,000 tons (sugar) 3,599 ,500 dozen 2,134,800 377,475

25,000,000 gallons 3,049,000 1,601,000

70,059,000 lb 6,740,388 4,436,046

16,177,000 lb 2,975,000 850,000

35 ,9 19,000 gallons 440,000 978,800

10,739,000 gallons 41,200 Not available

21 ,796,000 lb}

2,005,000 2,800,000 grease

13,460,000 lb _ 1 ,568,000 others

459,000 lb 98,000 154,000

1,576,000 sq yd 30,000 5,000

1,479,000 1,730,400 to 5,768,100 I , 153 ,600 to 23,972,400

2,943,000 1,721 ,700 to 5,7 39,000 1,148,000 to 22,955,000

555 ,000 216,500 to 721,500 144,300 to 2,886,000

2,110,000 253,200 to 422,000 Not available

3,009,000 lb 725,000 1,3 10,000

10,409,000 sq ft 490,000 856,000




Table 6--continued


Grazing-Urine and dung­ Cattle and horses Sheep Cows


Sewage Effluem s BOD Suspended solids

BOD Total solids

Number (Million lb per year) (Million lb per year)

6,015 ,000 22,135,000 1,213,000 448,000

17 million 23 million

30,295 27,741 610 81

151,471 137,241 3,059 277

Trade wastes are an important source of pollution. The Brisbane River and its tributary, the Bremer, are affected by continuous discharge of wastes from industries in Ipswich and Brisbane, including the wastes. of gas-works, tanneries and electroplating. Small watercourses, such

as Kedron Brook and Bulimba, Oxley, Norman and Enoggera creeks, carry a mixture of household and industrial wastes. Tests for dissolved oxygen indicate that it is often well below 4 p.p.m. and some of the wastes contain toxic substances. Most of the complaints about pollution

from other places relate to sugar and milk wastes which cause oxygen depletion, increase suspended solids, cause unpleasant odours and kill fish during the sugar crushing season when river flows are usuall y low. Several rivers are occasionally affected by silt from tin mining, others are subject to fish kills caused by meat industry efHuents and others are affected by wastes from butter factories and mines.

Three industries have been in vestigated in some detail in Queens­ land-the sugar, meat, and fruit and vegetable canning industries.

Complaints about pollution caused by the sugar industry go back to 1926 and are made every year in every sugar growing area. Most of them concern nuisances, fish kills , smells, fly breeding caused by the mud discharged from clarifiers, and the discharge of waste waters into

rive rs and watercourses or on to the land.

Sugar cane is the most important agricultural crop in Queensland. At the time of Mr Henry's survey in 1966 there were 31 mills. The value of assets used in th e industry was estimated at $500 mil lion and the number of people employed at 80,000.

The farm wastes resulting fr om sugar production include soil , insecticides, herbicides , hormones, fertili sers , soil salts, crop res idues, household wastes, night-soil and septic tank efHuent . These play a large part in th e problems of disposing of mill wastes, th e surface

run-off carrying consid erabl e quantities of soil , fertilisers organ ic



chemicals and crop re sidues. Sugar mill wastes include bagasse, mud, molasses, various grades of water, and ashes. Sugar refinery wastes include screenings, filter cake and molasses. Alcohol distilling wastes include slops and various grades of water.

The problems caused by the sugar mills can be solved but the industry has been experiencing economic difficulties in recent years and, in general, has been unwilling to make the investment required. The wastes from the alcohol and rum distilleries, however, are more

difficult to treat and are di scharged throughout the year, unlike those from the mills.

In his survey of pollution caused by the meat industry, Mr Henry found that, apart from minor fish kills, the main complaints were related to aesthetics. They were mainly concerned with odours, fly and mosquito breeding and the discharge of untreated wastes to sewerage


In 1966 there were 31 abattoirs and meat works of which 7 produced bacon and ham. Mr Henry estimated that waste flows were from 1,000 to 2,000 gallons per 1 ,000 lb dressed weight and the total biochemical oxygen demand was in the range from 1,000 to 2,000 parts per million. He found evidence of water pollution caused by 13 abattoirs (notably

that at Cannon Hill, on the bank of the Brisbane River) most of them polluting rivers and streams. He pointed out that most of the pollution could be reduced by treatment of wastes, improved methods of disposal and changes in processes and methods of operation.

During an inspection of the Brisbane River, the Committee's attention was directed to the nature of the disch arge at the Brisbane abattoir. We have since been informed that it has been notified that it must abate the waste discharge.

In his survey of fruit and vegetable process ing wastes in Queensland, Mr Henry found that there were only two major factories operating, both in the Greater Brisbane area. Their combined output was more than 100 million lb per annum. One discharged its wastes to council sewerage after chemical flocculation with lime and the other was

seeking an alternative to disposal on th e property. Isolated samples had indicated high BOD and suspended solids in th e efflu ent.


We had evid ence fr om the Director of the Department of Harbours and Marine, Mr A. J. Peel, that oil spill ages in Queensland ports were minor and would not exceed five a year. Since then , however, a large oil tanker has run aground in Torres St rai t. The incident caused con­ siderable anxiety in Queensland and to the Comm onweal th authorities,

and showed once again that few parts of the Australian coast are proof against such mishaps.




A great deal of controversy has arisen over possible dangers to the Great Barrier Reef, particularly from oil drilling operations and oil spillages from shipping, especially tankers. Dr Connell said that the Reef was susceptible to oil pollution as much of it was exposed or

in shallow water at low tide.27 In his view, biological investigation of the effects of oil on coral was one of the most urgent needs.28

Mr Peel said: 'The possibility of massive oil spillage due to the sinking or grounding of a tanker is of grave concern in view of the possible effect on the Great Barrier Reef. A recent experience overseas has suggested that a major oil spillage is fatal to all the living coral with which it comes in contact and that the area contaminated by oil does not regenerate as a living reef. No research into effects of oil spillage on th e Great Barrier Reef has been conducted and there are grounds for concern that even a comparatively localised accident m ay have wide­ spread effects on the reef as a whole through its di sturbing influence on the ecological balance of the reef system.'2 9 Research by the Department into the effect of oil on sponge corals had been

inconclusivc. 30

Though the ecological balance of the reef is very delicate, the consequences are not by any means entirely ecological. Adverse effects on a sig nificant scale could seriously harm the tourist industry. Para­ doxicall y, Dr Richard Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Petroleum Geology,

Department of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Queensland, in a submiss ion received by the Committee, but not presented to it in evid ence, expressed the view that, in descending order of importance, the threats to the reef were tourism, tankers and oil drilling. 31

Dr Patri cia Mather, on behalf of th e Great Barrier Reef Committee, presented in evidence a submission which stated : 'Not only is further re search required on th e chemistry and biology of pollution but in Great Barrier Reef waters in particular physical hydrography is most essential in mapping out the current characteristics so that the patterns of water circulation in Great Barrier R eef waters and the waters between th e coast and the Reef can be known'.32

We are pleased to note th e establi sh ment of the Australian Institute of Marine Science at the J ames Cook University of North Queensland, together with the proposal to award up to five Queen's Fellowships annuall y for study in the field of marine sc ience. These are to be open to in tern ati onal scholars and will be tenable at the Institute or, on its recommendati on, at any other Australian university or research establishm ent.

The Committee commends al so the growing interest in the well-being of the reef as shown by the constitution of Commonwealth and State royal commis ions, each with identical membership and terms of reference, to investigate o il drillin g and as ociated operations on th e


20 9

reef, and the appointment of a JOmt Commonwealth-State committee to study the current plague of the crown of thorns starfish.

This Committee, during its public hearings in Queensland, was tendered evidence of concern over possible pollution of the Great Barrier Reef, but we did not pursue this as a particular area of

investigation since it was understood that the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources had received a great deal of evidence on the subject.

However, we share the common concern for the future of the reef and welcome the actions being taken to protect this gre at and unique natural wonder of the wo rld.

South Australia Particular local problems exist in South Australia because of its geography. It has an area of 380,070 square miles, and 1,500 miles of coastline. Its population in 1969 was 1,144,400 people, of whom 808,600 lived in Adelaide. Most of the population is concentrated in

the south and south-east.

As the dries t State in the driest continent, South Australi a has special problems. Most of its streams are small an d non-perennial, the Murray being the only major river. Of its total length of 1,600 miles, only 400 miles are in South Australia. At the Committee's hearings in Adelaide

in January 1969, th e Engineering and Water Supply Department presented a submission in wh ich it said:

Under th e terms of the River Murray Waters Agreement South Aus­ tralia receives a statutory annual entitlement of 1,254,000 acre feet of water distributed on a specified monthly basis. Of the total figur e, 564,000 acre feet is determined as dilution water to offset evaporative

and other losses downstream to Wellington at the head of Alexandri na and Albert . The balance of 690,000 acre feet is availabl r: for the purposes of diversion.

ln periods of drought the Commission distributes the availab le resources to the three member States (New South Wa les, Victoria and South Australia), on a sharing ratio of 5 :5:3. In such periods the supply to South Australia can show a reduction of 500,000 acre feet relative to the statutory entitlement. In years of plenty, th e flow to

South Australia can greatly exceed the entitlement

l!!e large va riations in annual flow and associated variations in salt ioad, togeth er with the statutory limit, create difficulties in internal regu lation for the provision of water of adequate quality for honi­ cultural purposes. In addition State development and di version limits are restricted by this uncertainty of supply .33

Sout:1 Australia is the State most severely affec ted by the sa linity of the River Murray. Thi s is discussed in more deta il in a late r sec ti on.


About 83 per cent of South Australia receives an average of fe we r than 10 inches of rain per year. Much of this area receives only 5 inches. Fourteen per cent receives between 1 0 and 20 inches and most of this better rainfall is confined to the coastal strip.

In addition to low rainfall, South Australia experiences high evapora­ tion. The average annual evaporation varies from 40 inches in the south­ eas tern corner to 130 inches in the north and north-west.

The Engineering and Water Supply Department, in its submission, stated: 'Scarcity of water in South Australia has thus generally precluded the establishment of industries having a large water usage al ong these rivers, with the rather remarkable exception of a textile mill on the Onkaparinga'.34 Industry is therefore not a significant source

of pollution within the State with the exception of various processing plants on the Murray River. Nevertheless South Australia does have other pollution problems and their gravity is increased by the scarcity of wa ter and the pressures being exerted by economics, urbanisation and growth.

There are fiv e areas of possible water pollution in South Australia : th e River Murray, the metropolitan reservoir watersheds in the Mount Loft y R anges , country reservoir watersheds, underground water, and estuari ne and sea waters.35


The River Murray is generally a clean river but it could be threatened by th e domestic wastes from towns such as Renmark, Berri, Loxton, Barmera, Waikerie, Mannum, Murray Bridge and Goolwa and by wastes from industries esta blished along the river, which is used both as a source

of supply and for drainage. The risks of sewage pollution have been considerabl y reduced by the sewerage schemes and septic tank efflu ent schemes provided for the river towns, but much more needs to be done about the industrial effluents di sch arged into the river by di tilleri es , wineries, canneries and butter factories . The biggest pollution

threa t to the Murray, however, is salinity, which is discussed separately.


Potential poll ution of the metropolitan watersheds is also a cause for great concern. Some of th e richest and best land in South Australia is adj ace nt to Adelaide and must be used as the city's catchment. Till s regio n of the Mount Lofty Highl ands is one of the few areas in the State wh ich receives more than 20 inches of rain per annum. Its watersh eds provid e about 48 per cent of the State's reticulated water supplies.



Adelaide is unusual among State capitals in that all four of its water­ sheds are inhabited and are also used for a variety of agricultural and farming purposes including orchards, sheep and cattle grazing, pig and poultry raising, dairying and market gardening. They are also subject

to the pressures of the city's rapid growth and are traversed by arterial roads linking the numerous townships in the area.

The catchment area was first alienated in the latter half of the nine­ teenth century to raise capital for the Treasury. During the depression in the early years of this century subsistence farmlets for working men were permitted. Subdivision and land clearance followed. The Engineer­

ing and Water Supply Department now reports problems of domestic, industrial, animal husbandry, recreational, erosion, fertiliser and pesticide pollution within the catchments.36 The Department told the Committee that the watershed streams had a limited potential for dealing, by micro­

biological and photosynthetic means, with organically polluted material. The sources of pollution, therefore, should be kept as far away from the body of stored water as possible. 37 But the Department's Engineer for Water and Sewage Treatment, Mr K. W. Lewis, pointed out that there was concern over the increased rate of subdivision and industrial develop­

ment, intensive animal husbandry, intensive agriculture, quarrying and recreation within the watersheds. Since our hearing of evidence in South Australia, the State Government has adopted a policy of land use control which allows, in watershed towns in the Adelaide catchment area,

subdivisions smaller than 20 acres. With minor exceptions, sub­ divisions are still restricted to a minimum of 20 acres outside the water­ shed towns. Piggeries in particular were a great problem as some of them constituted, in effect, large unsewered communities whose wastes were

washed into the watershed streams at the time of reservoir intake. The pollution load of one pig equalled that of three people and piggeries in the watershed ranged in population from 50 to 1 ,500 pigs .

Describing the growth of human and animal populations in the watersheds, 'the vastly greater use' of the areas for agriculture, horti­ culture and recreation, and the impact of Adelaide's 'explosive growth', Mr H. J. N . Hodgson, who was formerly Assistant Director of the Engineering and Water Supply Department, said in his presidential

address to the Institution of Engineers , Australia , in 1968 : 'With such a situation impairment of the quality and safety of the water at its source is inevitable. In earlier years a meas ure of protection was afforded consumers by the natural purifying agencies which accompany storage in reservoirs. With greatly increased consumption in more recent years, which has resulted in a big reduction in the storage time, Adelaide

has been forced to rely very largely on heavy chlorination, under strict laboratory control, for the protection of its consumers. There is no doubt that Adelaide has re ached th e stage wh ere all its water supplies require treatment in conventional type works such as those which have

been built at Brisbane, Hobart and Newcastle. ' 38



The Mount Lofty Ranges Association said that a lack of

appreciation of the 'conflicting interests in the area and consequently a lack of any effective control of land use has led to an accelerating rate of permanent deterioration of the area'. The Association's submis­ sion added: 'Subdivision of larger holdings in the area has resulted in increases in the valuation of adjacent areas. This has led to increases in rateable value and land tax, which in turn has increased the pressures on owners of larger holdings to subdivide and sell. Experience in other areas of the State shows that this is a self-accelerating process. Inevitably such subdivision leads to further land clearance. Additional inducement to the clearance of native vegetation has been provided by the indis­ criminate application of Commonwealth taxation relief for such operations. '39


While there can be little doubt about the problems in the Adelaide catchments, there appears to be little knowledge of the problems in rural catchments. This Committee received almost no evidence about them except that the pollution problems were no more than potential. Rural catchments provide only 8 per cent of the water supplied annually by the Engineering and Water Supply Department. Except for the small reservoir reserves, the catchments are inhabited but they are completely rural.

Little evidence was offered, either, about rural waters in general. The kind of evidence obtained was largely anecdotal but it was the kind of evidence we heard repeatedly in every part of Australia. It shows that water pollution is insidious and often is accepted as the inevitable concomitant of progress rather than as pollution.

'I was born in Mount Gambier,' Dr J. M. Dwyer, President of the Australian Water and Wastewater Association, told us , 'and I well remember what a watery, swampy place it was when I was a boy. I have also had the opportunity of observing the effects of drainage over the last 50 years or so. In those early days fresh water naturally drifted from the South-East of South Australia up as for as Salt Creek. Sal t Creek existed as an outlet for these floodwaters, which in many cases travelled 100 miles or more to be let into the Coorong. In those days it was possible to dip a bucket into the Coorong down near Salt Creek and draw fresh water, a thing which has not happened for 30 or 40 years now.'40

And again: ' I cannot rem ember Boo! Lagoon being

empty in my younger days , but it was dry in a recent year. If you fly overland to Mount Gambier and, in the vicinity between Beachport and Robe, see the dry lakes-lakes that were never dry when I was a boy­ that is ample evi dence that some alteration has taken place'. 41


21 3


Underground water provides about 6 per cent of the State's reticu­ lated water supplies. It is most often polluted by poor drilling techniques which cause the ingress of natural saline waters into zones of fresh or low salinity waters. Loose casing may fail to seal off underlying or

overlying salt water aquifers from the fresh water. Other mishaps are caused by the collapse or decomposition of the casing, by over-pumping and by the reduction of pressure in a producing aquifer, thus allowing lateral movement of adjacent saline water into the fresh water zones of the aquifer. Examples of these conditions occur in the Adelaide

Plains artesian basin.

A hydrogeological condition common in South Australia is the occurrence of fresh water lying as a 'cream' over very saline water in shallow, highly permeable aquifers. If wells are drilled too deep or pumped too fast, the fresh and the salt water are mixed. This has

occurred in the E yre Peninsula and in parts of the Murray basin. A less common way of polluting underground water is the discharge of industrial wastes into underground drainage bores. The Department of Mines said that 'numerous local examples of this situation have

occurred in the south-east of the State and elsewhere'.42 It gave as one example a cheese factory which was polluting its own underground water supply because its sewer pit was discharging into the aquifer that supplied its own wells .43


South Australia has 5 deep-sea ports controlled by the Department of Marine and Harbours and 8 privately owned and operated ports. No evidence was obtained about pollution in and around them , alth ough Mr Hodgson noted that until 1966 there had been gross pollution of

the Port River estuary due to the discharge of untreated sewage from the Adelaide drainage area. But with the opening of the Bolivar treat­ ment works th e pollution had ceased. Nevetheless during heavy rain the estu aries did receive surface drainage from the heavily built-up

Adel aide plains and this was a source of 'considerable pollution'.44 In South Australia there are now only two sea outfalls for the disposal of sew age, one serving Port Lincoln and the other Mount Gambier. Nei th er causes an y nuisance.


The pollution pattern of South Australia is a comparatively simple but nevertheless quite serious one. There are industrial pollution and salinity in the River Murray, a growing threat to Adelaide's water supply,


widespread pollution of underground waters and some pollution in estuaries. A State with so few water resources cannot afford to tolerate any worsening of the situation.

Western Australia Western Australia is physically the biggest of the six States, with an area of 975,920 square miles and a coastline of 4,000 miles. Its popu­ lation in 1969 was 946,400, of whom 635,500 lived in Perth. Most of the population is concentrated in the south-western corner. Western Australia is the second driest State and its water resources, even by Australian standards, are very scarce.

This Committee found it difficult to ascertain the extent of water pollution in Western Australia. The evidence we heard was full of opinions, bland assurances of things being under control, or grim forebodings about a blighted heritage and a contaminated future.

Probably the best assessment of the position was made by a group of academics and research people who said in a paper submitted in evidence that well-documented information on pollution in Western Australia was not available. 45 The same group nevertheless submitted a map of potential water pollution areas in the State. It is reproduced, for what it is worth, as Figure 9. Neither the group nor this Com­ mittee was able to confirm most of these potential pollution sources.


Throughout the evidence the word 'salinity' kept rising up like a spectre. Witness after witness gave examples of salinity or referred to it is a major problem, but we were unable to piece together a systematic account of either its extent or its seriousness. The Assistant Director of Agriculture in the Department of Agriculture, Mr G. H. Burvill, said that in many parts of the State there had been changes in the level and salinity of the natural groundwater. Crops and pastures apparently used less moisture per acre than native vegetation. ' . . in Western Australia clearing the natural ground vegetation from the countryside has been followed by springs breaking out on slopes,' he said, 'and by a rise in the level of the natural groundwater. In many places the natural groundwater was saline but occurred at considerable depth. It has risen much closer to the surface in areas developed for agriculture and this has caused man y earth tanks to be ruined because the salt groundwater comes into them. . . The amount of land rendered sterile and difficult to handle because of soil salinity is probably only about one

million acres.'46

Mr Burvill's evidence should be read in conjunction with that of Professor M. I. Webb who said: 'We do not know how the salt gets there. When it does you are faced with a completely bare stretch of



land with nothing growing on it. When we consider this State-wide we can say that it does not matter because the total area being opened up each year is far greater than the area being lost. That is a judgment for the State to make but for an individual farmer the loss is significant

because it represents a significant proportion of his property spoilt because of this salt.'47

There can be no doubt that salinity is one of the most serious water pollution problems facing Western Australia today but just how serious was impossible for us to determine. Nevertheless the problem is

Bauxite /' / Long T erm Possibi I it ies / of effects of T idal / < .Carlton Hill Point Spnng ,lord Da m I. Pest tcides Contarnmation Posstble Nuclear of Envtrontnent Contamination Broome eL tvennga ,. ., Pes ticide Control )5 Gravel ',, of Brolga ,/ Talgarno ______ // ______ _, ,' & Sa lt ,' De , ape Keraudre n \

Swan Coasta l Wetlands

Recreational Pollution

, Pprt Ground Wa ter ,.

' __ \, ./ ' ----... \'\li thdrawals

.... .: - ... ..... ,, \ .

// ( t'• Millsfream ' Abstraction I

,/' \ ' ... 14::..- ' of Water

1 \ I I •

, ', .... / I ' --12.:.• __ =:-::::-.:-_-P _.... Proposals for Wa ter Development •

A 'ea of Web Worm

P.W .D . Integrated Scheme I










of I nland Lakes Proposed Paper Mi l l

Scale of Miles


Fig. 9 Western Australia, potential water pollution 55

obviously too big to be ignored, too serious to be written off as a cost of development. A million acres sterile may not represent much to fewer than a million citizens spread over a million square miles, but a million acres written off for a hundred, perhaps a thousand, years is not the sort of gift any Australian would happily bequeath to posterity. This kind of thinking has its consequences and the United States of

America is experiencing them now. As President Nixon said in his message to Congress on 10 February of this year, 'Conditioned by an expanding frontier, we came only late to a recognition of how precious and how vulnerable our resources of land, water and air really are'.


In a State where most of the larger rivers in the south-west have brackish water and those farther north flow intermittently, groundwater is valuable. Many of the larger towns, including Albany, Bunbury and Geraldton, and some major industries, depend entirely upon ground­

water for their supplies. Even in Perth 6 per cent of the water supplied by the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Board comes from groundwater48 and the prospect is that this proportion will increase. 49 Many primary producers also depend upon groundwater, especially those on the Perth coastal plain who produce vegetables and dairy products for the metropolitan market.

The Chief Hydrogeologist, Geological Survey of Western Australia, Mr E. P. D. O'Driscoll, told the Committee that even the deep ground­ water re sources could be polluted, and he outlined a number of ways in which this could occur. The shallow, unconfined waters were more easily contaminated by the run-off of insecticides and by industrial wastes and domestic eflluent being disposed of in pits. 50

It is im possible to do more than generalise about groundwater poilu­ tion in We stern Australia as , once again, too little is known about it. The Public Works Department admitted that there was no regular testing of ubterranean water in the State.51

The Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Board submitted that the rising water table, in conjunction with the

rezoning of rural land as urban , posed a special local problem. 'Most of th e development of the metropolitan area,' it said, 'is in the com­ paratively flat coastal plain where the ground water table is quite high . The high ground water table increases cost of sewer construction and

prevent s the con struction of sewers at great depth s. The consequence is that sewering in Perth involves the provision of an extremely high number of sewage pumping stations proportionately to the population sewered. Thus the ground conditions impose not only high construction costs but high operational costs on the sewerage system.'52




In spite of willing co-operation by witnesses, it was just as di fficu lt to get a clear picture of State-wide water supply and sewage pollution as it was to get one of groundwater pollution. The Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Board supplies water to about 600,000

people in its area of 1,375 square miles extending from 11 miles north of Perth to 30 miles south. Ninety-four per cent of the supply is drawn from surface sources and 6 per cent from groundwater. Fewer than 300,000 persons are served by sewerage. 53 With the exception of one

small catchment, the catchment areas are virtually uninhabited and well controlled, but like the other State capitals, Perth experiences trouble • in meeting United Kingdom and United States standards for drinking water 'due, it is believed, in part, to the use of raw water without full

treatment, th e inability to cover all service reservoirs, and th e unwill­ ingness of th e populati on to accept water that carries any perceptible trace of chlorine or chlorination'.54 The Board admitted that its sewerage coverage was unsatisfactory,

an d added: '. but the effects have been mitigated over the years, because in much of the Perth metropolitan area the soil is sa nd , and in these conditions household septic tanks are effective, parti cul arly in th e early yea rs of th eir life . That septic tanks have not

proved sati sfactory as a long term solution to the disposal of household liquid wastes is evidenced by the universal demand for sewerage from those are as not already sewered.'55 The three main sewage treatment works discharge into the sea

at distances of 3,500 to 6,000 feet from the shore and are said to cause no significant pollution.

The Country Water Supply Branch of the Public Works Department is responsible for the supply of water and the operation of sewerage works throughout most of the country areas of Western Australia. It supplies about 200,000 people with water from about 60,000 services.5n

Twenty-one country towns have sewerage schemes. At fifteen of them the effluent is disposed of by land irrigation after secondary treatm ent in oxidation ponds. At Al bany, Bunbury and Geraldton it is disch arged into the sea and at Katanning, Merredin and Narrogin it receives

secondary treatment to public health standards and is then used to irrigate recreation grounds. The Department said that no major pollu­ tion problems were being experienced in either water supply or sewer­ age in the towns for which it was responsible. 57


The Public Works Department said that the principal sources of pollution of its drainage systems in the south-west agricultural area we re milk factory and abatto ir wastes . A milk factory at Coolup bad adopted a Gove rnment suggestion that it spray irrigate its adjoining


farm with diluted wash water. Unfortunately the method, which was originally suggested to abate pollution, was now regarded as a technique to increase farm production. The farm manager was therefore reluctant to irrigate in spring when the flow in the drain was too low to accept the effiuent but the pasture did not require water. Another factory at Brunswick Junction was causing a similar problem and other factories had only recently overcome such problems.58

The works of Laporte Titanium (Australia) Ltd at Bunbury was built in 1963 under an agreement between the Western Australian Government and Laporte Industries Ltd. The Government knew there would be an effiu ent problem and discussed it with representatives of

the Bunbury and Harvey shires before the industry was established. What it did not know was what prolonged south-west winds could do to the dark brown effiu ent, or what the effiu ent could do to a swimmer's costume, to the rocks and to the beaches a long way from the expected area of polluted sea.

The agreement between the State and the company provided for the State to accept responsibility for disposing of the effiuent at the sea end of a pipeline to be constructed across the Leschenault Estuary if the efflu en t remained similar to a sample from the company's works at Grimsby, England.

To preven t th e efflu ent entering the Leschenault Estuary or fouling the Bunbury swi mming bea ches, a holding lagoon was constructed adjacent to the sea end of the pipeline. The discharge was made on the basi s of dai ly weather forecasts. The effluent was turned into the lagoon whenever north or north-west winds were likely as these produced a rare southerly drift. It was considered that the normal northerly drift would cause no problem and in the early years of operation the brown discolouration of the sea extended no farther than 3 or 4 miles along largely uninhabited coastline. But following prolonged south-west winds

in earl y 1967, discol ouration was reported at Binningup Beach, 8 miles north of th e outfall, and it recurred even more severely in 1968, according to the Public Works Department. uu 'Anybody wearin g white bathers or white trunks ended up with them having a ru sty colour,' said Mr E. K. Cooling, President of the Bin­ ningup Progress Association . 'There was a definite chemical smell , too.

People reported to me that they had sore eyes . It was alleged that this was cau sed by th e discharge from Laporte. It was also suggested that it caused sk in irritation. However, I can vouch for the staining and the chemical smell. '60

The Public Works Department said that after the 1967 pollution the Government had stepped up its efforts to find a solution to the effiuent problem. The investigations indicated that the best short-term solution lay in the construction of additional holding ponds, and one

of these was constructed in 1968. Since November 1968 there had been no discharge of the effluent to the sea.61 The Department is now investigating long-term solutions to the problem.


21 9

This is a classic case of industrial pollution. When a new industry is to be established the State, the Government and the entrepreneur are naturally concerned primarily with the economic success of the industry. The judgments made about economic prospects are usually based on solid research and foundations of fact. The judgments made about th e side effects of pollution often receive rather less detailed consideration. It is not up to this Committee to weigh the private profits of the Laporte Titanium enterprise against the social costs to the citizens of Binningup.

Our evidence is not good enough for that. But it is important for us to show that pollution is a problem that is easily pushed below the level of consciousness when business is the main item on the agenda.

Apart from the Bunbury situation, there were other instances of industrial pollution in Western Australia. The Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Board said that there were many factories in the metropolitan area using unsatisfactory method s of

disposing of their liquid wastes. These included meat and poultry processing works, breweries, woolscours, tanneries and manufacturing industries. Wastes were discharged into the Swan River, into Cockburn Sound, on to , or into, the ground and elsewhere. Commonly th e industry

involved had expanded considerably since its establishment and the was te disposal problem had grown with it. At the time of establishment pollution had not been a problem because of the small quantities of waste involved or the remoteness of the industry, but it had become

increasingly serious. It was the familiar story of burgeoning urbanisation and industrialis ation th at we heard in one form or another in most capital cities.

The Board said: 'With the recent industrial expansion, however, waste disposal problems from new or proposed industries are al so arising. Much remains to be determined as to the standards and con­ ditions which both new industries and old established industries should

be required to meet in the discharge of their liquid wastes.'62


The Chairman of the Swan River Conservation Board, Mr W. R . Courtney, said that the Swan River was an inundated estuary the water of which was generally considered pure. He said there was pollution in the river but it was not extensive, nor was it becoming worse. The main causes of th e pollution were discharges of industrial wastes, seepage fro m septic tanks, run-off from grazing paddocks and natural drainage, discharge from water craft, rotting vegetation in the river and the

misu se of weedicides and insecticides. Mr Courtney pointed out that if these matters got out of hand, recreation, fishing and bird life on the rive r could be threatened, but the pollution at the present time was being contained.63





< lCL /\N



De•'ll (i lo•n • Wumhtwte

'''""'' '

A. V t• I

L••ut,.lttto.ut U•u(•._ • • L .trlll""l


e l)w t•l!u•q ur>

e Jc rra munyur l

LEGEND • Main Dams

----Main Pipe Lines

13 uuldc•

(..uolg.J rdtc

Towns, Country Areas Wate r Supply • Public Works Dcpdrtment o Othcr Authorities Tuwns. Country Towns Sewerage

0 Public Works Dep"rt"rent D Other Authorrties • Ports

- - - - Boundary of Co rn prehensrve Scheme as being construc ted.


e R

0 100

Sca le o f Mile s

Fig. 10 Public Works Department , Western Australia, Works Index (sou th-west)


The composition of this Board is of interest as a model for a body controlling a stream system, and is set out in Appendix IV.


The Harbour and Light Department controls 8 ports in Western Australia and 5 other port authorities each control one port. The Department said there were no industrial activities in any of its ports which could cause pollution. The main possible sources of pollution

were oil spillage and other discharges from ships. In the past 6 year only eight spillages had been reported. Most were minor but in three instances more than 50 gallons had been discharged. The 900 commercial fishing boats operating in the State did not cause much pollution and action was being taken to restrict the use of



Western Australia is a large State with few people and little wa ter. It is now experiencing a high rate of development in many areas and thus the threat of pollution looms large unless the appropriate authorities act now to prevent it. Salinity is obviously an important problem and must be thoroughly investigated. It seems that more attention should be paid to groundwater resources and there should certainly be a closer watch on the operation of industry. It can never be too early to begin pollution abatement, and Western Australia should begin now.

Tasmania Ta mania has an area of 26,383 square miles and its population is approximately 390,000; so its population density is more than 14 persons per square mile. By Australian standards Tasmania has a plentiful rainfall with more than 75 per cent of its area receiving over 30 inches per annum. This rainfall provides a wide distribution of lakes and perennial streams and rivers. The population is more decentralised than that of any other State. So too is secondary industry.

There are two main river sys tems in the more populated regions, together with many smaller sy stems, particularly in the north-western area. The main river systems are that flowing south from the central highlands into the Derwent Rive r and that flowing north from the central and the eastern highlands into the South E sk River and later

into the Tamar River. The evidence heard by the Committee indicated that the plentiful fresh water was utilised for a wide range of uses varying from electricity generation, irrigation and industrial purposes to most forms of water sports.


Most of the evidence this Committee received from State and local government authorities throughout Australia emphasised the range of legislation available to cope with pollution and the past successes of the authorities in solving specific pollution problems. Tasmania was nO> exception to this general pattern and it was not until the Committee heard the evidence of Dr A. D. Ross, Director of Public Health for Tasmania, and some others, that it was possible to form any general impression other than that Tasmania, except for a few places, was an

isle of sparkling waters and almost aseptic seas.

Dr R oss gave the Committee valuable evidence of a range of water pollution problems in Tasmania, and illustrated many of these with a series of 35 -millimetre slides. His down-to-earth approach impressed members of the Committee with its recognition of both sides of the

issues raised.

The awful conclusion drawn from the photographs and evidence is­ that there is serious pollution of most of the main rivers, including the Derwent and the Tamar.


The Chairman of the Inland Fisheries Commission, Mr D. D. Lynch,. pointed out that Tasmania had one special pollution problem. In the central plateau there were 2,000 square miles at an altitude between 2,000 and 4,000 feet. The rainfall varied from 90 inches on the west of this plateau to 35 inches on the east. At Miena, at an elevation of 3,400 feet, there was snow for 40 days each year and at 4,000 feet there was snow for 6 months.

On this pl ateau, sheet erosion was widespread above 3,000 feet and was a significant cause of water pollution. One-third of the land west of Great Lake between Liawenee and Miena was bare because wind had blown the topsoil away. Moreover, the area was now more vulnerable to the winds as frost had prevented the re-establishment of seedlings

and stock had pu lverised soil . Fires had also helped to impoverish the ground cover. In 1960-61, 500 square miles had been burnt as severe forest fires moved into the bog and peat from October to February. All this had led to heavy silt loads being deposited in lakes and streams,

ruining fish eggs. This was a case of pollution by siltation.65


The evidence suggested that large-scale mining was largely confined to the west coast and to the north-east part of the State, although there had been some recently on the north-west coast. The extensive mining operations on the west coast in the nineteenth century had



resulted in some pollution that was irreversible. A classic example was the Queen River where the tailings from a flotation process had killed all forms of life near the point of discharge and had created a biological desert. The Queen River flowed into the King River and

polluted it also. The King River itself used to be polluted also by a copper mine at Comstock.66

Pollution from mining still occurred in some parts, and current operations at Mount Lyell continued to pollute the Queen and the King rivers which are in one of the most scenically attractive regions of Australia. According to the Warden of the Municipality of Strahan,

Mr H. G. McDermott, the bed of the latter had been raised to such an extent by silt deposited by tailings from the Mount Lyell mine that the river mouth, once navigable by boats of 7 feet draft, was now nego ti able only by vessels drawing no more than 2 feet of water. Furthermore, the discharge from the river was polluting Macquarie

Harbour. 67 The Senior Mining Engineer and Senior Inspector of Mines and Explosives in the Department of Mines, Mr J. B. Braithwaite, said he could not see why people were so concerned about it. He went on to say: 'I will admit that it is probably an eyesore, but wh at mine

dum p is not? If you go to Kalgoorlie or Broken Hill, I think they are fa r bigger eyesores than the sand spit in Macquarie Harbour.'68 Despite rhe evident public concern, the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd declined repeated invitations to provide a witness to appea r before the Committee.

Mr P. C. Sims , an industrial chemist, said that Savage River Mines Pty Ltd was polluting the Savage River in the north-west by th e di scharge of tailings and erosive drainage from its open-cut iron min e. This had rendered the stream unfit to drink and an eyesore, and had given it an objectionable odour. It had silted badly and its waters discoloured the Pieman River also. 69 In several supplementary sub­

missions , one presented as late as March 1970, Mr Sims indicated that the pollution still continued. The indications of the evidence put before this Committee are, therefore, that the precautions taken to prevent pollution have been entirely inadequate.

In the north-east corner of the State, according to the evidence presented to us , a section of the South Esk River had been polluted by effluent from wolfram and tin mines at Storeys Creek and Gipps Creek. The pollution was said to have begun 18 years ago and an glers now reported that there were no fish in the South Esk River between Avoca and the Nile Ri ver.

A group of the local farmers, in evidence given in Launceston , told the Committee of their great and growing concern about the effects on their lands adjacent to the South Esk River, particularly in region of Avoca. In flood times the water flowed out over the pastures alon g the ri ver and deposited harmful metallic elements on the land.

7 0

Independ ent tests of soil and water samples made on behalf of th e


Committee confirmed the results of soil tests made at the instigation of the farmers themselves. The analyses undertaken for the Committee revealed the presence in the soil samples of zinc, copper and sulphur in proportions ranging from 8 to 180 times normal for zinc, 4 to 38

times normal for copper, and up to 18 times normal for sulphur. A t abnormally high levels all these are toxic to plant life. The presence of other metallic elements in concentrations higher than normal was detected also.

Analysis of one water sample in particular showed a good correlation, as to copper, sulphate, zinc and lead, with results obtained from the soil tes ts. The same sample was highly acid; the other was just within the limits allowable for rivers. The high acidity was considered to be due, at least partly, to sulphuric acid.

The water samples showed excessive quantities of cadmium. The Itai Itai (or 'Ouch Ouch') disease experienced in parts of Japan, which has been positively attributed to excessive quantities of cadmium in rivers polluted by upstream mining operations, is sufficient reason for co ncern to be felt by communities drawing their water supplies from the

South Esk River.

In April 1966 a fish kill occurred in the Derwent River below the point where the Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Ltd disc harged its effluent. A sample taken at the time showed a high concentration of zinc in the water. 71


Pollution by sewage is a significant problem in Tasmania and our evidence suggests that it is accepted with an equanimity unmatched in any other State. Dr Ross may have put his finger on a significant cause of th e apparent situation when he said:

the Del01·aine Council knows very well that it should no1 pollute the rivers passing through it; yet that very council says to the Government: 'We know that we are breaking the law, but we cannor aff ord to put the matter right'.

You then find the situation that where the council itself is polluting the ri ver that fa ct is immediately thrown up in its face . A person says to it: 'You require me as a private citizen to do this, bur you pollute th e stream yourself'. You get into a shambles at that stage . You get all the political hotch-potch and arguments on politics. Then the Government says: 'We cannot force the local authority to do this;

it cannot afford to do it'. Should we have a situation in which th e lo cal council cannot afford to control pollution, yet it is trying to prevent private citizens causing pollution? In those circumstances, all it will fin d will be that it will go out of power.



Dr Ross went on to say: 'The situation is that we cannot take action against a local authority for a nuisance occurring in a works. Section 618 of the Local Government Act specifically excludes certain types of works.' 72

Launceston, by depositing some 30,000 tons of sewage sludge each year in the River Tamar, does little to reduce siltation of the channel. The Launceston Corporation is empowered to continue discharging raw sewage into the river until 1973.73 Ninety-nine per cent of Hobart

has sewerage but only 35 per cent of the sewage is treated-and even that receives only primary treatment. Raw effluent is discharged into the Tamar River, a practice which was aptly described by the Pan Manager and Port Engineer, Port of Launceston Authority, Mr J. K. Edwards, as 'primitive, obnoxious and beneath the standards accept­

ab le to any present day community'.H

The Queen River, running through the mining town of Queenstown , also is heavily polluted by raw sewage and, from time to time, so are many of the beaches on the north-west coast.7 5 Zeehan too pollutes .1 creek which runs through the town and Deloraine ratepayers see a sewage treatment plant, which would be needed to protect water users downstream, as too great a financial burden although the untreated sewage from Deloraine (population 1 ,900) pollutes the Meander River

from which the municipality of Westbury draws its drinking water a few miles downstream. 76 This river is a classic example of pollution by communities upstream affecting towns downstream on a waterway that flows through the areas controlled by a number of distinct administrati ve



Food canneries and abattoirs at Devonport, Ulverstone and Smithton are discharging untreated trade wastes into estuarine waters, 77 a paper mill at Burnie is pouring 'black liquor' into the sea, and at Heybridge another factory, in spite of genuine efforts to curb the pollution,'8 has

stained about 20 miles of sea and foreshore a bright orange-brown wit h hydrous ferric oxide. 79 A food factory at Scottsdale, in conjunction with the local munici ­ pality which has a population of 2,500, bas been able to install a pl ant

of extremely modern and novel design to treat trade wastes and sewage . This plant, which was opened in April 1970, provides an excellent example of an industry, and the community which it supports, working together to overcome the problems of pollution. The co-operati on

evi dent at Scottsdale disproves the validity of the excuses given in respect of many other small communities. Discussing offending abattoirs, Dr Ross said: 'There is a problem in this connection. Our main power to prosecute relates to nuisance


and proving nuisance is not always easy you come up

against the Local Government Act in that if we proceed against them on the grounds of nuisance, they can use the defence that they are adopting the best method of disposing of it within the circumstances I have no real power under the Local Government Act.'80 The Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd plant not only is discharging its effiuent at low-water mark at Burnie, but is doing so on a beach in front of the Burnie caravan park where the Burnie Municipal Council is spending $400,000 in a 4-year programme to eliminate its sewerage outfalls. 81 Dr A. F. Morgan, Regional Medical Officer for North-west Tasmania, summed up the position when he said, 'This indiscriminate and remediable pollution, although not prejudicial to health, would seem to perpetuate some of the worst evils of uncontrolled industrialisa­ tion in Victorian England in that it wilfully disfigures a very lovely stretch of coastline ·and makes Tasmania a less beautiful place to live in and to visit'. 82 Dr Ross made this comment: 'You have a big works such as the EZ works at Risdon, which is using products. It is a factory,

but it is using the products of primary industry. Therefore it is excluded from our jurisdiction. We cannot touch it. We are forced into a situation in which we might be touching the little fellows but letting the big ones go.' 83

The Research Manager of Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd, Mr C. M . Saul, was asked whether the effiuents from the plant caused any local concern and he replied: 'We get comment when one or other of the froths comes up on the beach. We had comments when the chips were up on the beach but we took steps to stop that. We get some comments when the fish come up on the beach, but they are quite edible and they are grabbed with alacrity.'84

This firm is expending considerable sums on waste-treatment plant. The Managing Director, Sir Henry Somerset, and members of his staff conducted members of the Committee on an inspection of the plant at which we were shown a new and costly installation designed to recover usable material and further clean the discharged waste.

Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd, in planning the establishment of a wood-chip plant on the east bank of the Tamar River, some 3 miles upstream from Bell Bay, undertook, with the assistance of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, an extensive survey of flushing times for the river to determine whether

problems would arise from the effiuent. This is an example of what can and should be done before a new industry is established. A similar exercise was undertaken by Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd for its Port Huon plant.

While making inspections in Burnie, the Committee was told of local concern over proposals to establish an acid plant. It was planned that the effiuent would be discharged into Bass Strait 3 miles off-shore by a pipeline. Recent public statements indicate that the concern has increased in the interim.


22 7

S e\\'age discharge from Malabar outfall, Sydney

Scene on Sydney Harbour at Potts Point , a leading residential area

Rubbish dumped in rh e upper Parramarra River


Po//urion by indusrria/ II'GSi es in rh e Foorscray - Yarravi//e area , M elbourne

Two hundred years af ier Cook's landing ar f.: umel/, rhe heach has 10 he cleaned of oil

Wastes from alcohol distillery discharge into mangrove creek near Sarina, Qld

Citrus tree defoliated by saline irrigation 1\'Gter at M ypolonga, S .A .


------------------------- - --;·-

Detergent foam in Fa irfield Creek. N.S. W.

Australian Capital Territory



The Committee concluded that Tasmania bas already demonstrated that pollution follows industrial, social, agricultural and mining development, even with the advantages of a plentiful supply of fresh water and widely decentralised urban and industrial growth.

Tasmania bas a wide range of serious pollution problems and it provides a particular lesson that the mere abundance of water does not of itself give a guarantee against water pollution. It may in fact be an invitation to extravagance and careless use of water resources.

Tasmania differs not at all from the other States in the serious nature of its pollution problem, and the need for abatement is just as urgent. We noted that the Hydro-Electric Commission, which controls and administers a large percentage of the State's water resources, did not avail itself of the opportunity to give evidence. As a consequence, the Committee was not able to determine the extent to which the Com­

mission gives consideration to questions of pollution.

The Australian Capital Territory is about 910 square miles in area and is within the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. It is drained by the Murrumbidgee River and its tributaries. The most important of these is the Molonglo River which flows westwards through the Canberra

city district. The other principal streams drain in a general northerly direction, following the structural grain of the country. The two main catchments in the Territory are the Cotter and Naas­ Gudgenby river systems. Canberra's water supply at present comes from three dams on the Cotter. The Naas-Gudgenby system bas not

yet been exploited. The Molonglo-Queanbeyan catchment, outside the A.C.T., also is important to the national capital as it is the main source of water flowing into Lake Burley Griffin in the centre of Canberra and may also become a future source of water for the city.

Because of the wide range in altitude within the A.C.T. the climate varies considerably. In the west of the Territory the rainfall averages about 30 to 35 inches per annum but measurements taken for a short period at Mount Bimberi indicate that it may receive more than 60 inches. Canberra bas an average annual rainfall of 24.6 inches and in the 109,010 uninhabited acres of the Cotter catchment the rainfall varies from 23 to 60 inches per annum with a fairly uniform incidence

throughout the year. In the city, snow usually falls each year but rarely lies for even a full day. Above 4,000 feet it fall s regularly and above 5,000 feet it usually lies for about 3 or 4 months each year. The Australian Capital Territory is subject to a great diurnal range in temperature, low relative humidity and prevailing north-west winds

whic h cause high evaporation. The low average summer rainfall and th e high evaporation rate contribute to high per capita water consumption.



Most of the population of the Australian Capital Territory is con­ centrated in Australia's largest inland city, Canberra (population 120,000 in 1969), in the north of the Territory, but there are a few small rural settlements and some farms. Canberra has comparatively few industries. Most are small and not many of them are the traditionally 'dirty' ones.

The south-west of the Territory is mainly uncleared mountainou. :; country, most of which is over 3,000 feet, rising to high points of 5,000 feet in the Tidbinbilla Range and to more than 6,000 feet at Mount Bimberi. It contains many permanent streams, including the Murrum­

bidgee, Molonglo, Cotter, Paddys, Gudgenby, Naas and Orroral rivers.

The Department of the Interior said that the Molonglo River was the only stream entering and flowing through the Australian Capital Terri­ tory that. had been seriously affected by chemical pollution. What was once an excellent trout stream had been polluted by mining activities at Captains Flat, New South Wales. Since a slimes dump collapse in

1943 the whole length of the river from Captains Flat to the junction with the Queanbeyan River had been chronically polluted by zinc. Fish could not survive for long in its waters. The whole stream flo ra and fauna had been drastically affected, the Department said. 83 There is

no need to record this example of mining pollution in more detail here as there is an account of it in the previous chapter.

The Molonglo is the river that was dammed to form Lake Burley Griffin. The National Capital Development Commission said that in 1962, before the lake was filled, it had connected a number of minor sewage installations around the lake basin to the Canberra

sewage system so that no effluent would discharge directly into the lake. Six miles upstream of the east basin of Lake Burley Griffin the town of Queanbeyan (population about 13,000) discharged its effluent into the Molonglo after normal primary and secondary treatment and

planning a further refinement of this treatment. A little farther down­ stream the effluent from 500 people at H.M .A.s. Harman naval base was discharged into the river but it was of good quality. The Commis­ sion claimed that the water in the lake was of consistently high stan­ dard and fell well within the normal range .for good swimming quality.s6

Using other standards, the Commonwealth Department of Health claimed that the lake could be contaminated intermittently by effluent from the Queanbeyan treatment works. The degree of contamination not uniformly high but it could constitute a risk to health if people swam

repeatedly in the lake. 7 The Commission's argument relied mainly on tests of the lake and well-respected overseas standards; the Depart­ ment relied on tests of the effluent before it reached the lake and on an American textbook. There are no Australian standards for bathing

waters. The Commission pointed out that in 33 months of tests to 1967 no viruses had been recovered from lake samples,88 but the Departmen t claimed that it had isolated viruses on a number of occasions in sample s


23 7

taken from the effluent before it reached the lake. The Departm ent argued that even if the risks of disease transmission were small , it was obliged, as a public health authority, to warn of possible dangers.

The whole argument, as the Commission said, pointed to th e need fo r Australian standards of water quality. If the Commission was right, the Department may have been unnecessarily depriving many residents of Canberra of some valuable opportunities for recreation. However, the

Department, on 23 April 1970, announced a change in its attitude as all sewage efi:luents flowing into th e lake either had been diverted into the city sewage sys tem or were being effectivel y treated, and significant contamination did not now regularly occur. Automatic warning systems

have now been installed to detect any breakdowns at sewage pumping stations.

The Department of the Interior said that some industrial effluents were entering the lake from the Queanbeyan, Pialligo and Fys hwick areas and, intermittently, there was a little oil pollution when oil was tipped or leaked into stormwater drains flowing into the lake. B9

The Molonglo River is polluted not only before it enters Lake Burl ey Griffin but also after it leaves the lake. Canberra is fully sewered and its main sewage treatment works is at Weston Creek, which discharges into the Molonglo River below th e lake. The works was ori ginally intended to serve a population of 25 ,000 people but had been

augmented in stages to serve 40,000, then 90,000 and, more recentl y, 120,000 people. The National Capital Development Commission said that the efflu ent produced by this plant in the early years had been acceptab le. The smaller discharges flowing over the steep and rocky bed of the Molonglo

River allowed aeration and pondage to assist in the final stage of treat­ ment. Canberra's population had spread closer to the works, an d th e volumes treated were becoming much greater. The effluent now required higher standards of treatment than could be provided at the wo rks,

and requirements for a new plant were being investigated.90 The Com­ monwealth Department of Health sa id that effluent from Weston Creek was of a variable standard and it was unsafe to swim in the river down­ strea m of the treatment plant.91 The Department of the Interior said

that as well as the organic load which greatly reduced the oxygen concentration in the water, there was a relatively high concentrati on of detergents which bad not been broken down during sewage treatment. It was unlikely that the levels would be high enough to be toxi c to fi sh but many smaller organisms would be affected.92

No other important examples of water pollution in the Australi an Capital Territory were brought to the Committee's notice but the Bureau of Mineral Resources said that there had been a few in stances of groundwater pollution, including pollution from the Captains Flat

slimes dump. More could be expected as industry and population expanded. Groundwater was little used in the Territory but it was being


Most of the population of the Australian Capital Territory is con­ centrated in Australia's largest inland city, Canberra (population 120,000 in 1969), in the north of the Territory, but there are a fe w small rural settlements and some farms. Canberra has comparatively few industries. Most are small and not many of them are the traditionally 'dirty' ones.

The south-west of the Territory is mainly uncleared mountainous country, most of which is over 3,000 .feet, rising to high points of 5,000 feet in the Tidbinbilla Range and to more than 6,000 feet at Mount Bimberi. It contains many permanent streams, including the Murrum-­

bidgee, Molonglo, Cotter, Paddys, Gudgenby, Naas and Orroral rivers.

The Department of the Interior said that the Molonglo River was the only stream entering and flowing through the Australian Capital Terri­ tory that had been seriously affected by chemical pollution. What was once an excellent trout stream had been polluted by mining activities at Captains Flat, New South Wales. Since a slimes dump collapse in

1943 the whole length of the river from Captains Flat to the junction with the Queanbeyan River had been chronically polluted by zinc. Fish could not survive for long in its waters. The whole stream flora and fauna had been drastically affected, the Department said. 85 There is

no need to record this example of mining pollution in more detail here as there is an account of it in the previous chapter.

The Molonglo is the river that was dammed to form Lake Burley Griffin. The National Capital Development Commission said that in 1962, before the lake was filled, it bad connected a number of minor sewage installations around the lake basin to the Canberra

sewage system so that no effiuent would discharge directly into the lake. Six miles upstream of the east basin of Lake Burley Griffin the town of Queanbeyan (population about 13,000) discharged its effiuent into the Molonglo after normal primary and secondary treatment and wa s

planning a further refinement of this treatment. A little farther down­ stream the effiuent from 500 people at H.M .A.s. Harman naval base was discharged into the river but it was of good quality. The Commis­ sion claimed that the water in the lake was of consistently high stan­ dard and fell well within the normal range -for good swimming quality.86

Using other standards, the Commonwealth Department of Health claimed that the lake could be contaminated intermittently by effluent from the Queanbeyan treatment works. The degree of contamination was not uniformly high but it could constitute a risk to health if people swam

repeatedly in the lake_ s7 The Commission's argument relied mainly on tests of the lake and well-respected overseas standards; the Depart­ ment relied on tests of the effluent before it reached the lake and on an American textbook. There are no Australian standards for bathing

waters. The Commission pointed out that in 33 months of tests to 1967 no viruses had been recovered from lake samples, 88 but the Department claimed that it had isolated viruses on a number of occasions in samples


23 7

taken from the effluent before it reached the lake. The Department argued that even if the risks of disease transmission were small, it was obliged, as a public health authority, to warn of possible dangers.

The whole argument, as the Commission said, pointed to th e need for Australian standards of water quality. If the Commission was right, the Department may have been unnecessarily depriving many residents of Canberra of some valuable opportunities fo r recreation. However, th e

Department, on 23 April 1970, announced a change in its attitude as all sewage efiiuents flowing into the lake either had been diverted into the city sewage system or were being effectively treated, and significant contamination did not now regularly occur. Automatic warning systems have now been installed to detect any breakdowns at sewage pumping


The Department of the Interior said that some industrial effluents were entering the lake from the Queanbeyan, Pialligo and Fyshwick areas and, intermittently, there was a little oil pollution when oil wa s tipped or leaked into stormwater drains flowing into the lake.89

The Molonglo River is polluted not only before it enters Lake Bu rl ey Griffin but also after it leaves the lake. Canberra is fully sewered and its main sewage treatment works is at Weston Creek, which discharges into the Molonglo River below the lake. The works was originally intended to serve a population of 25,000 people but had been

augmented in stages to serve 40,000, then 90,000 and, more recently, 120,000 people. The National Capital Development Commission said that the efflu ent produced by this plant in the early years had been acceptable. The smaller discharges flowing over the steep and rocky bed of the Molonglo

Ri ve r allowed aeration and pondage to assist in the final stage of treat­ ment. Canberra's population bad spread closer to the works, an d the volumes treated were becoming much greater. The effluent now required higher standards of treatment than could be provided at the works,

and requirements for a new plant were being investigated.90 The Com­ monwealth Department of Health said that effluent from Weston Creek was of a variable standard and it was unsafe to swim in the river down­ stream of the treatment plant.91 The Department of the Interior said

that as well as the organic load which greatly reduced the oxygen concentration in the water, there was a relatively high concentration of detergents which bad not been broken down during sewage treatment. It was unlikely that the levels would be high enough to be toxic to fish but many smaller organisms wo uld be affected. 92

No other important examples of water pollution in the Austral ian Capital Territory were brought to the Committee's notice but the Bureau of Mineral Resources said that there bad been a few instances of groundwater pollution, including pollution from the Captains Flat

slimes dump. More could be expected as industry and population expanded. Groundwater was little used in the Territory but it was being


used by three new space-tracking stations and this exemplified the expected trend. Possible sources of groundwater pollution around Canberra were chemical insecticides and herbicides, bouse drainage, sewage and septic tank effluent, industrial chemicals, and drainage from light industrial areas, quarries and mines. Little pollution

existed in groundwater in the Jervis Bay area of the Territory but with surface water scarce and population increasing, care should be taken to prevent and control pollution of the valuable groundwater supplies available, the Bureau said.93

Within the comparatively small area of the Territory a fairly wide range of pollutants bas been discovered-mining wastes, chemicals, sewage, detergents and oil. But most of these so far have affected only two rivers-the Molonglo and the Murrumbidgee. It is imperative that strict control be maintained, as Canberra is growing at a rate four times that of the average for Australia as a whole. There are plenty

of examples in other Australian cities of pollution getting out of control in periods of rapid growth, and the Weston Creek sewage treatment works is itself an example of what can happen during rapid urbanisation.

Northern Territory The Northern Territory bas an area of 520,280 square miles and its estimated population at the end of 1968 was 64,000, giving it a population density per square mile of only 0.12, compared with 38.2 in Victoria and 14.32 in New South Wales. Darwin bad a population of 21,617 people and Alice Springs 7,810. The few other towns are much sm aller.

The Territory lies within the torrid zone, with the exception of a strip about 180 miles wide which lies south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Its coastline of 1,000 miles is indented by bays and inlets and inter­ sected by numerous rivers. Many of these are navigable for considerable distances from their estuaries but the only practicable deep-water port is Darwin. Inland the country is generally devoid of conspicuous land­ marks. There is a gentle rise southwards from the coast to the vicinity

of the seventeenth and eighteenth parallels of south latitude, where the higher lands form the watershed between the rivers that flow northwards to the sea and those that provide the scanty supply for the interior system. Towards the centre of the continent the land over a wide area

is of considerable elevation and there are several mountain ranges, generally with an east-west trend.

There are two main climatic periods, the wet season from November to April and the dry from May to October, with uniform and regular changes of weather. Most of the rainfall occurs in the summer months. About 25 per cent of the Territory receives fewer than 10 inches of rain per annum, 32 per cent receives between 10 and 15 inches and , at


the other end of the scale, 12.6 per cent receives more than 40 inches. The high-rainfall area is in the north of the Territory, the low in the south.

The marked seasonal rainfall over the whole of the Territory is an important influence on the pastoral industry from which the Territory derives a large proportion of its income. But groundwater and so il s also are important. Most of the cattle depend on groundwater for 3 to

5 months a year during the dry season. Although surface water supplies are generally adequate for the pastoral industry in the 26 to 60 inch rainfall country in the north, the area has a comparatively low cattle­ carrying capacity and the pastoral industry is concentrated more in

inland areas where feed retains more nutritive value in winter. South from the well-watered northern-most portion, the T erritory becomes progressively drier, with an average annual rainfall of only 5 in ches at the margins of the Simpson Desert in the south-east co rner.

At 30 June 1968, 5,751 bores and wells were registered in the Northern Territory. Of these, 3,634 were for pastoral use, 324 for agricultural use, 410 served town and domestic water supplies, 48 were government-established stock-route bores, and 214 were classifi ed

under other uses. These included successful bores which bad coll apsed and bores which were unsuccessful because of drilling di fficu lties, or insufficient quantity or poor quality of underground water.

Agricultural activity in the Territory is not yet extensive. It is confined to the Darwin, Adelaide River, Coomalie Creek, D aly Rive r, Katherine River, and Alice Springs areas. In the Territory 55 li cences to divert water from streams have been issued, and the total area

licensed for irrigation is 2,253 acres but the area actually irrigated is less than this.94

The Chief Agronomist, Primary Industries Branch, orthern Territory Administration, Mr J. H. Auty, said that the use of chemicals in the agricultural and pastoral industries of the Territory had not been extensive, mainly because there was little agricultural development and

the pastoral industry was based on a very extensive low-input pattern . The main user of chemicals was the small horticultural indu stry. Fertiliser use was not extensive but the use of phosphate was increasing and ni trogen fertilisers were being used in the new sorghum ventures. He knew of no cases of herbicide or insecticide pollution in the Territory but warned that pollution by insecticides in particular was a

possibility as there was no control over their sale or use.

Mr Auty also discussed the effects of the two seasons on pollution. During the wet season he said enormous volumes of water p assed down the rivers. E ven 'though contaminated with lindane from rice bays at the Upper Adelaide River Research Station and Humpty Doo emptied into the Adelaide River, the volume of water was so great

that the lindane was diluted below the concentration (0.05 p.p.m.) which was injurious to fi sh. But if dry-season rice were to b e grown


extensively, the opposite might occur and insecticide could accumulate in the estuary and at tributary junctions. 95 'To avoid needless alterations in natural fauna,' Mr Auty said, 'some control over the use and consequently the abuse of insecticides is imperative. While, in certain agricultural spheres, insecticidal control is being replaced by other methods of control which are less injurious

to wildlife and man, it is not likely that insecticidal control in crops that are, or are to be, grown in this area will be replaced in the same way. If we have to tolerate this type of control, then we should make the best use of it. It should not be used to increase the production of various crops at the expense of marine life or fauna. With this in mind,

some form of legislation should be initiated to ensure that the attributes of nature should be preserved and not mercilessly destroyed by the ignorance or carelessness of man.'96 Mr Auty also directed attention to the rapid development of agri­

cultural and animal industries in the Territory. This had led to rapid changes in land clearing, land ploughing and cultivation, and intensifica­ tion of stocking. He gave the example of the Adelaide River area in which the stocking rate had increased ten times in 5 years as a hunting

industry gave way to a more intensive cattle industry. The Senior Engineer, Planning and Water Resources Section, Mines and Water Resources Branch, Northern Territory Administration, Mr I. S. Watson, said that small settlements scattered throughout the Territory often unwittingly caused water pollution. Some nomadic

Aboriginals lacked an appreciation of hygiene and thus polluted water­ holes when camping around them. In some settlements, lagoons, billa­ bongs, swamps and wells were polluted. It was not uncommon to find fowl runs or pig pens draining into wells or even to find wells and septic tanks close together. In one case a dye was placed in a toilet connected

to a septic tank. Within 11 hours the dye reappeared at a freshwater spring used as the settlement's only water supply. In a few settlements sewerage schemes were being installed. These were the most satisfactory methods of preventing pollution. 97

Sewerage, of course, does not prevent all pollution. In Darwin the sewerage scheme itself pollutes the harbour. Darwin's sewerage scheme consists of several separate systems each of which discharges to its own harbour or sea outfall. Most of these outfalls discharge raw sewage. Two beaches, Kahlin Beach and Frances Bay, are always polluted beyond the acceptable limits and Mindil Beach is often polluted. All the northern beaches are heavily polluted during the wet season. Although the connection of all Darwin's sewers

to three outfalls is planned, detailed studies have not been made of the tides in Darwin Harbour and it is possible that the discharge of raw sewage could remain a nuisance. 98 The chemical quality of Darwin's water supply is generally good but its iron content is variable and sometimes grossly discolours the water and housewives' laundry. Its only health threat is to those who suffer



24 '1

from a very rare disease. But there are other health threats apart fr om the iron. Regular tests frequently show unacceptable counts of coliform s, faecal coliforms and enterococci. The Manton Dam catchment is unfenced and pigs, buffaloes and rats stray into it. The mixing tank s

and the storage tanks around the city are not roofed and are also probably a source of pollution. 99

The water supply at Katherine is also polluted, seasonally. The town draws its water from the Katherine River, supplemented when required by bores nearby on the river bank. In the dry season the water is of reasonable quality but the first flushes of the wet season bring down matter from stagnant pools and wash in the accumulated debris and

organic matter from the surrounding catchment, producing a hi gh bacterial count and low oxygen content. In November 19 67 many dead fish accumulated around the intake of the town supply.100

A possible source of additional water for Katherine is in a cave rn ous sub-surface reservoir in nearby limestone beds. Mr Watson said th at there was a high risk of pollution in this area. Part of the town's storm­ water was disposed of down a sink-hole near th e main street and it

could seep through the continuous solution channels in the lim estone. The effluent of many septic tanks in the area also might reac h the aquifer. 10 1

One of the major pollution problems in the Northern Territory is that caused by copper and uranium mining at Rum Jungl e. The strongly acidic effluent from the treatment plant flows via the East Finniss Ri ve r into the Finniss River, making the water unsuitable for ei th er stock or

human consumption for a distance of 20 river miles. Vegetation on the river banks has been destroyed and it will be many years before this area can sustain _growth. 102

This Committee can only support Mr Watson in his contention th at with developments at Gave, Groote Eylandt and McArthur Ri ve r leading to large mining complexes and townships, close control will have to be exercised to keep waste disposal within acceptable stand ard s. The same applies al so to the new industries-prawning, wood-chi p

production and large-scale agriculture. 103

1. S ee 'W ater and Waste Water and Water Pollution Control in Australia, by D. K. B. This tl ethwayte, Paper o. 2, The Insti tute of Water

P ollution Contro l Ann ual Confe rence, Scarborough, E ngland, 1968, P· 15. 2. Thistlethwayte, pp. 10-1 3. E vidence, pp. 1490 and 1501 4. E vidence, p. 1568 5. Evidence, pp. 1579-8 1

6. E vidence, p. 4630 7. E vidence, p. 1498 8. E vidence, p. 1646 9. E vidence, pp. 1810-1 10. E vidence, pp. 1455-6


11. Evidence, p. 1667 12. Evidence, p. 1669 13. Evidence, p. 1672 14. Evidence, p. 1499 15. Evidence, p. 4507 16. Evidence, p. 1547 ff. 17. The early parts of this section were compiled from the submission of the

State Rivers and Water Supply Commiss ion, Victoria, Evidence, pp. 743-53. 18. Evidence, p. 748 19. Ibid. 20. Evidence, p. 749 21. Ibid. 22. Evidence, pp. 1068-71 23. Evidence, p. 1193 24. Evidence, p. 1187 25. Evidence, pp. 1187-9 26. Mr Henry submitted 20 papers. The most useful were :

'Some Aspects of Water Pollution in Relation to Queensland' (Exhibit 7) 'Sugar Industry Wastes in Queensland: A Preliminary Survey' (Exhibit 11) 'Meat Industry Wastes in Queensland' (Exhibit 12) 'Fruit and Vegetable Processing Wastes in Queensland' (Exhibit 13) . 27. E vidence, p. 1924 28. Evidence, p. 1983

29. E vidence, p. 2209 30. Evidence, p. 2219 31. Committee Document 311 32. Evidence, p. 295 33. Evidence, p. 306 34. Evidence, p. 289 35. Evidence, p . 295 36. E vidence, pp. 290-1 37. Evidence, p. 292 38 . E vidence, p. 674 39. Evidence, pp. 516-7 40. Evidence, pp. 603-4 41. Evidence, pp. 607-8 42. This section is based on the submission of the South Australian Department

of Mines, Evidence, pp. 62?-9 . 43. Evidence, p . 630 44. Evidence, p. 664 45. Evidence, p. 2688 46. Evidence, pp. 2578 and 2581 47. E vidence, p. 2704 48. Evidence, p. 2466 49. Evidence, p. 2484 50. Evidence, pp. 2782-3 51. Evidence, p . 2641 52. Evidence, p. 2469 53. Evidence, pp. 2463-6 54. Evidence, pp. 2464-5

55. Evidence, pp. 2467-8 56. E vidence, p. 2610 57. E vidence, pp. 2613-4 58. Evidence, pp. 2605-6

59 . Evidence, p. 2607 60 . Evidence, p. 2454 61. Evidence, p. 2607 62. Evidence, p. 2470 63 . Evidence, p. 2658 ff. 64. Evidence, pp. 26 19-20 65 . Evidence, p. 3351 66 . Evidence, p. 3352 67 . Evidence, p. 3023



68 . E vidence, pp. 3324-5 69. Evidence, pp. 2886-7 70. Evidence, pp. 3171-2 71. Evidence, p. 3352 72. Evidence, pp. 3272-4 73. Evidence, p. 3264 74. Evidence, p. 3044 75. Evidence, p . 3021B 76. Evidence, p. 3263 77. Evidence, p. 3021C 78. Evidence, pp. 2928-32 79. Evidence, p. 3021B 80. Evidence, pp. 3268-9 81. Evidence, p. 3263 82. Evidence, pp. 3021B-C 83. Evidence, p. 3274 84. Evidence, p. 2999 85. Evidence, pp. 96-8 86. Evidence, p. 144 87. Evidence, p. 66 88. Evidence, p. 146 89. Evidence, p. 101 90. Evidence, p . 139

91. Evidence, p. 69 92. Evidence, p. 102 93. Evidence, p. 2305 94. All this introductory section has been taken from the Official Year Book

of the Commonwealth of Australia, No. 55, 1969, Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, Canberra, pp. 29, 123, 955-7 and 1141. 95. Evidence, pp. 3885-7 96. Evidence, p. 3888 97. Evidence, pp. 3910-1 98. Evidence, pp. 3913-4

99. Evidence, pp. 3912-3 100. Evidence, pp. 3911-2 101. Evidence, p. 3915 102. Evidence, p. 3916 103. Ibid.


5 The Main Problems

The State-by-State survey of water pollution in Chapter 4 showed that most kinds of water pollution experienced in advanced industrial countries are being experienced in Australia also. But from this wide range of pollution types three stand out as major problems. They are pollution associated with sewage effluent or the lack of adequate sewerage facilities , industrial pollution, and salinity. And compounding all three there is the combination of sheer ignorance and unwillingness

to recognise the knowledge that exists.

We were told by various witnesses that a systematic attack on pollution problems would require properly controlled surveys, investi­ gations and studies. After they were made, priorities could be assessed, and informed and rational judgments could be made. If Australia had

the time, the expertise and the money, this would be advice worth heeding. But time for dealing with water pollution has, in our view, already run crucially short, co-ordinated expertise in the field of water pollution is lacking in this country, and our financial resources are subject to other urgent pressures. Therefore, this Committee

believes that some judgments must be made and that the nation must, as a matter of urgency, get on with the job of pollution control, abatement and prevention. Within the next few years we should like to see a general frontal attack on all the problems, but we believe that a start can and should be made more quickly on the four main

problems which are discussed below.

Sewerage Pollution caused by the discharge of sewage effluent and the lack of adequate sewerage facilities is a major problem because it affects so many people and so many natural resources that are valuable simply because they are near the large concentrations of population.

Chapter 4 showed that sewerage was a problem in most of the State capitals. The Director of the Water Science R esearch Institute Ltd and Water Science Laboratories Pty Ltd, Mr C. D. Parker, listed off-shore discharge of raw or settled sewage and industrial wastes, and the discharge of sullage and industrial wastes in th e unsewered fringe

areas of th e larger cities, as two of the three most significant pollution categories in Australia.1 Almost every major sewerage authority agreed with this and many other witnesses, including representatives of industry, echoed the opinion. Mr A. G. Robertson , E ngineer in Chief of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, summed up the

general attitude when he said th at the prevention and control of pollution in an urban environment was largely dependent upon th e proviSIOn of sewerage services. 2 These should include adequate treat­ ment. It has already been shown that most of the St ate capitals


24 5

are inadequately sewered and that a very large proportion of th e Australian population lacks the amenity of water-borne sewerage.

Mr D. K. B. Thistlethwayte showed that in 1965 the proportion of the population using public sewerage was 55 per cent. This com­ pared with 53 per cent in 1940. He compared the water supply and sewerage systems available to the main cities in those years and

showed not only that large proportions of the big cities were unsewcred but also that much of the sewage that was collected in public sewers was discharged untreated. He estimated that in 1965 untreated sewage accounted for about 40 per cent of all that was discharged.

He also showed in his paper that the proportion of people using septic tanks in Australia had never been high. Most of the 45 per cent of Australians without sewerage in 1965 used pan closet systems. The pans were normally removed weekly and their contents buried,

but more recently the practice of dumping the contents into sewer had found favour. The arrangements for such dumping varied from crude simplicity to elaborate installations which included di s in te­ grators, holding tanks and even provision for chlorination. 3 The

night-soil burial grounds became sources of pollution in wet weather, he said.4 There is no doubt that the populace at large wants sewerage. The problem is to finance it. In Perth, Mr R. M. Hillman said the bas ic

reason for the small proportion of the population with sewe rage services (less than 50 per cent) was lack of finance. 5 It was a statement that we heard in one form or another in most State capitals. In

Melbourne, Mr Robertson said that the rapid expansion of the city had outstripped the financial resources of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. He produced a table to show that the number of persons in Melbourne not served by sewerage rose from

66,000 in 1947 to 378,000 in 1961 and 322,000 in 1966, or 5.3 per cent, 23 per cent and 17.2 per cent respectively. The number was expected to fall to 138,000, or 5 per cent, by 1985.6

The Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board said th at in Sydney, where about three-quarters of a million people in th e area served by it had no sewerage available to them, there wa s :1 major problem in financing the works to make good the backlog

in sewerage provision. Already there was a shortage of sewe red industrial sites and unless this we re rectified the city's industrial expansion would be prejudiced. The estimated cost of providing adequate water and sewerage facilities for the population increase of 2 million expected in the Board's area by the end of the century

was about $2,160 million, of which $1,280 million would be used for sewerage services . And of this, the highest rate of expenditure would be needed in the next decade not only to make good the backlog, but also because the main water and sewerage works had

to be undertaken in advance of reticulation and the erection of buildin gs in development areas. 7 The need for expenditure on


additional water supplies by the adoption of the Shoalhaven scheme, and the need for increased expenditure on sewerage works, both have to be kept in mind in determining priorities.

?; c

"' " 0


"' " 0

c: "' 0


Sewage D1scharge

B.O .D. -----­

D.O. Reaeration-------

Stream F low

Algae Slimes

B . Coli



ormal L ife ------

Pollution Tole ran t Li fe -------

S1ream F low - - --

Fig. 11 Diagrammatic representation of effect of sewage on a ri ver

In Brisbane, 30 per cent of the population was without sewerage, according to Mr G. Cossins, who appeared before the Committee on behalf of the Brisbane City Council, but at the present rate of



progress virtually the whole population would have it with in 5 years. 8 Nevertheless, it is not insignificant that 60 per cent of the city's sewage will be discharged raw at Luggage Point at the mouth of the Brisbane River, just as it is important to note, again, that although 99 per cent of Hobart has sewerage, only 35 per cent of the ewage is treated and raw effluent is discharged into the Derwent Estu ary.

It has been noted already that Launceston is aggravating a siltati on problem in the River Tamar by depositing thousands of tons of raw sewage in it each year.

Mr Thistlethwayte pointed out that in unsewered areas local authorities were under pressure to provide either sewerage or accept­ able alternatives to it. Municipalities had therefore relaxed rigid se ptic tank design requirements, had redesigned systems to allow them to use greatly reduced volumes for flushing water closets, or had gi ve n more sympathetic consideration to combined sewerage-sull age systems. Most councils also provided for the removal of the accum ulated effluents. But in many of these areas street drains carried the overfl ow from sullage absorption systems, slimes and odours we re noticeabl e, and watercourses were polluted. 'Although this is an Austral ia-wide

problem', he said, 'little attention appears to have been given to it'.9

Lack of sewerage is a major problem but, as Chapter 4 showed, sewerage itself is a mixed blessing in some places. For exa mple, Sydney and Darwin collect their sewage and then pollute their beach es with it, Launceston pollutes a river and Melbourne is said to pollute

a bay. In addition sewage overflows are an important source of pollution. Mr Thistlethwayte said that in Australia the pollution of surface streams was generally highest in localities where wet-weather sewer overflows discharged diluted sewage direct to open water­ courses . The raw sewage and the high turbidity combined to give hi gh

coliform counts in streams for short periods.10

There is also the problem of water wastage. 'In a country as defi cient in water resources as Australia', said Mr Henry, 'conservati on was a paramount consideration and sewage should be treated and made available for re-use to the greatest extent possible-it should not be evaporated in lagoons nor discharged to the ocean unless re-use is

impracticable' .11 Most of the evidence on sewerage was concerned only with the provision of the amenity of a sewerage service and the consequent reduction in health and pollution problems. Sewerage was so difficult to provide that few authorities were able to think beyond

the provision of the basic amenity, coupled perhaps with a degree of treatment. This Committee recognises that such troglodyte thinking was conditioned by the scarcity of finance. We express very strongly the view that if something is done about improving sewerage services

in Australia, the general aims should go well beyond the provision of an amenity and should include extensive water re-use.


Industry It is the firm belief of this Committee that Australia's streams and coastline should be considered by all Australians to be part of their national resources. They belong to us all. They do not belong, nor does any part of them belong, to a particular industry or municipality. An industry that pollutes a stream, and a municipality that permits the pollution, are squandering resources that are not rightfully theirs. A stream may be an aesthetic resource, or a resource that supports fish , wildlife and human recreation : it may supply drinking water, or water for agricultural and industrial use. What, then, may be said

about a mine discharging effluent that kills all the fish, a factory discharging untreated or inadequately treated effluent that makes the water undrinkable and unsuitable for swimming, a food-processing plant that creates obnoxious odours, or a titanium plant that discolours

the water?

One thing that may be said is that the community at large, while gaining the general advantage of the presence of these industries, is paying for their pollution privileges by the loss of important amenities. Nor is this price always paid at the point of discharge. All effluent eventually flows to a natural body of water. It may be dis­ charged into a municipal sewerage system or directly into a stream, but somehow, somewhere, it reaches a river and eventually the sea, some­

times polluting the stream, the river, its estuary and the sea.

Chapter 4 gave examples of mines that polluted lengthy stretches of rivers for long periods, of a town polluting the water supply of another with its untreated sewage effluent, of factories polluting long stretches of a waterway. With respect to mining there appears to be, often, an attitude that if a mine, like the uranium mine at Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory, is 'located in a wild and virtually uninhabited part of the bush', there is no occasion for concern over pollution. The question to be answered is whether a community in which aesthetic, health and recreation expectations are rising, as its affluence , mobility

and leisure opportunities increase, can afford to provide industrial waste treatment facilities free, or even to provide them at all.

Industrial pollution is a vexed problem. Most of the industrialists who appeared before us were conscious of it. Few of those industrialists who seem to be unconscious of it were prepared to give evidence. Those who exhibited an awareness of the problem readily conceded that industry had a duty to the community in matters of pollution, but considered that it had a duty as well to make profits and to comp ete successfully. Most municipal representatives who appeared were also conscious of the costs being imposed upon their communities by the use of sewers and streams as industrial drains , but some confessed th at

they used discretion in interpreting local standards, and persuasion rather than penalties in bringing industry into line. There was a distinct impression in many places that authorities and industry got along without too much attrition by a series of unspoken gentlemen's agree­

ments which were being unwittingly subsidised by the community.


24 9

Running through much of the evidence from the industrialists was the assumption that in treating their effluent they were performing an unrewarded community service. Mr M. Hunt of the Broken Hill Pty Co . Ltd said that the company had made no special investigation of th e effects of water pollution that may have resulted from its effluent .

There bad been no complaints of any significance and no economic incentive to do so. 12 A company investing in water pollution abatement got no direct financial return from its investment and was incurring the expenditure for the benefit of the community as a whole.l3 In additi on

it had few legal standards to meet.H

Mr A. W. Harper of Joseph Lucas (Australia) Pty Ltd said that hi s company felt that the prevention of pollution was something done by the company for the common good and that the company hould be reimbursed for its efforts, 'not only as recompense for ourselves, bu t

because from experience we have found that small firm s are reluctant to pay much attention to effluent treatment, largely because of the costs involved'. 15 He saw the money spent on pollution control as a substantial capital outlay on which no direct return was received. It wa o

money that might produce a fairly big return if invested in other parts of the works. 'I suppose', he said, 'that the other aspect of thi s matter is that wh ile we have made this large capital outlay to do th e right thing there are those of our competitors who we know have not done

so, and naturally we are penalised to that degree in competitive bargain­ ing on the open market because our operating costs must be greater'. 1'; He said that there were by-laws and rules made by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works which were flouted. Treatment plants

were installed to pay token respect to a by-law but in the knowledge that they would be ineffectual within a short time. 17 There is also the problem that treatment plants may be kept in use only when an inspec­ tion is considered to be imminent. It became apparent that firm s with a

responsible atttitude received little encouragement and even some di s­ couragement from seeing others 'get away with it'.

In Sydney, Mr H. C. Hunt said that the Maritime Services Board of ew South Wales set standards for the disposal of effluent in tidal waters. Its standard for lead, for instance, was 1 part per million. One industry in Bankstown was found to be discharging lead into Salt Pan Creek at a rate of 90 parts per million but it took action by th e

Banks town Municipal Council, not the Board, to ensure that the practice ceased. He criticised the principle of allowing pollution within arbitrary limits and be argued that while industry was permitted to discharge pollutants to creeks and stormwater channels, it would be im possible to

control pollution even with an army of inspectors working 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, as the discharge from every factory would have to be constantly sampled and analysed. 'In any case', he sa id , 'by the time analyst reports reveal pollution, all life in the river can be destroyed' .18


There appears to be a tendency for some official authorities to discard all other considerations in attempting to provide additional sites for factories, which often add to pollution. The opposition to council plans to rehabilitate the Ermington Bay area on the Parramatta River illus­ trates the need for co-ordination of activities between such authorities and municipal councils which are concerned to provide more open space and to undertake riverside beautification schemes.

Standards Much of this evidence pointed towards one conclusion, which was crystallised for us by Dr M. J. Flynn, who said, 'There is need at the moment for uniform standards for water purity and standards for stream classification for various usages'.1 9

We asked Mr J. R. Paton, Technical Director of the Standards Association of Australia, whether there was any publication on water standards and he replied: 'We have no Australian standards. There are overseas, South African, Indian and plenty of American, but there are no Australian standards out of the 1,600 standards we have so far prepared. I do not think there are any relating only to the purity of water.'20

Instead of Australian standards, there is a multitude of shire, municipal and State standards which vary greatly in aim and applica­ tion. In addition, these standards are enforced with varying degrees of severity and by a fragmented array of authorities. There is nothing inherently wrong with different standards for different areas. Indeed,

this was urged upon us by a long succession of witnesses as being a desirable feature of any national approach to water pollution. What is wrong is the lack of co-ordination in setting them and the often irrational ways in which they are enforced, or are not enforced at all.

If standards are needed, it follows that the quality of our water resources will have to be thoroughly documented so that an assessment can be made of how much this quality is altered by the pollutants. This was a course urged upon us by several witnesses, and notably by Mr C. D. Parker, who said: 'While areas of gross pollution or situations where the obvious consequences are apparent can readily be listed on

inquiry, present levels of moderate pollution can only be determined by detailed survey and laboratory examination. It would appear that this inquiry should stimulate moves to document in each State the quality of river, lake and es tuarine and seawater by regular surveys.'

Mr Parker pointed out that control of water pollution depended on having appropriate enforceable standards covering the discharge of polluted waste water, th e technological capability for achievi ng these standards and the acceptance of the financial commitment to construct the required treatment facilities and to operate them properly. 21


25 1

Having said all that, we have left unanswered the most crucial qu es­ tion of all: What should the be? All the other iss ues are

dependent upon it and yet it is a question to which no catego rical answer can be given. In the end the cqmmunity, as we were told so many times, will get the standards of pu.dty for which it is prepared to pay. It was often said that all pollution should be treated at it s

source because there the responsibilities were clear and abatement was cheapest and most effective. 22 At the source, so the argument goes , it is possible to insist that the quality of discharge sliould equal th e quality of intake, but to insist upon this would be to neglect the regen­

erative powers of a stream and to fail to make e.tfective use of it as a resource. The problem is to assess how much use to make of a stream, particularly one that has large variations in flow. If it becomes unacceptably polluted, the responsibilities may well be dissipated and

the costs will then be imposed indiscriminately upon the community in the form of, say, decreased efficiency in another part of the stream and lost amenities in general. The social costs may well exceed the private costs and certainly the responsibilities will have been relinquished

by the polluter and have been assumed by the community.

On the other band, in imposing such a standard as a discharge quality equalling intake quality at the source, the community would have to bear in mind that the cost of treatment would be added to the other costs of production and eventually it would be the community

that would pay in the form of increased prices.

Such a standard would also neglect the differences between water bodies and might fail to balance costs and benefits adequately. Mr E. L. Ifould, Managing Director of the Australian National Power Alcohol Co. Pty Ltd, which produces power alcohol at Sarina in north

Queensland, made this point in Brisbane. 'I do not want to sound too offhand about this', he said, 'but it is a good instance of where a balance must be struck between the value of this enterprise to the community, to the town of Sarina, and its known evil effects in polluting

this mangrove swamp creek where no-one ever goes-I doubt if you can go there-and the few fish killed on a nearby beach where people live and have weekenders' .23

Mr Ifould was aware, too, that the problem of balancing costs and benefits involved not only intangible and difficult-to-quantify social costs but also the problems of time and prediction. The problem at Sarina, he said, was not the same today as it was 25 years ago.

'Then there was nobody there and it did not matter if fish were killed. The area has become more settled. A static amount of pollution then becomes a greater social problem. Even if we do not pollute any more in 50 years the problem will become serious.'24

In setting standards the difficulty of assessing definable financial costs against less easily quantified social losses is in itself. a. com.pli­ cated problem. It is also one in which, in the field of admtmstrahon,



the former often appears more legitimate than the latter because it can be better documented. But even more complicated than the plain cost-benefit analysis based on a known situation today, is the problem of making assessments for the future. Despite all the efforts to make prediction a science, it is still impossible to say with certainty what will happen tomorrow. Today's swampland creek may become tomorrow's swimming pool, but is it reasonable to tax the people of today on the faint assumption that tomorrow it may be so? The answers to such problems go beyond the scope of this Committee's inquiry but they must eventually be faced if the problem of standards is to be solved rationally.

One of the best and most down-to-earth generalisations we heard relating to standards came from Mr E. F . Boyle, Chief Hydraulic Design Engineer in the Department of the Co-ordinator-General of Public Works, Queensland, who said:

ln determining measures for the control of water pollution, the benefits to the community must be considered in relation to the costs, direct or indirect, which the community will have to pay. There is, however, a limit beyond which the pollution of any waterway will prohibit its use by the community, and if the community is not prepared to restrict pollution to that limit, at whatever cost, the community will cease to exist. Man can live without many natural resources, but not without water, and in balancing benefits against costs, as indicated above, the scales should, if anything, be tilted with the emphasis on saving the water rather than on saving the dollars. ln the final analysis, the com­ munity will receive as much protection against water pollution as it is prepared to pay for. !s

But Mr Boyle also accepted a suggestion that modem society did not allow the natural environment to be maintained totally intact in its original condition and that the problem was one of providing a degree of tolerance. 'Wherever man li ves as a community', Mr Boyle said, 'be pollutes the water'. But he agreed that man still had to live. develop and expand. 26

Assuming that perfectly pure water in every stream is neither reason ­ able nor desirable, and that the aim of pollution standards should be to achieve a balance between development and purity, one can assume also that there will be some kind of classification of our water resources

related to a scale of water quality standards. Dr M. J. Flynn pointed out that criteria for stream classification were readily available from other countries. These could be used as the basis for standards set after a case-by-case analysis of water pollution problems. 27

Mr C. D. Parker said that in New York St ate all th e streams were listed and cl assified according to their acceptable or required use. Standards were set for the various characteristics of the water in relation to th e use for which it was required. Simil ar standards had been set in Europe by international agreement for the Ri ver Rhine. 28



One approach to quality standards was contained in the report of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Water Quality Criteria to the Secretary of the Interior in the United States. That Committee divided water resources into the categories of waters for recreation

and aesthetics; public water supplies; waters for fish, other aquatic life and wildlife; waters for agricultural uses; and industrial water supplies. 29 It then assessed appropriate standards for each use. Nevertheless, such a task will take a long time. As Mr Parker

said: The establishment of river standards either to meet a classification requirement or a specific set of conditions is a logical approach to pollution control but it requires a very considerable knowledge of river quality conditions under all seasonal conditions and detailed study

of individual discharge proposals. It also requires knowledge of th e consequences of specific discharges and the quantitative relationship between reduction in the amount of a particular pollutant and the condition in th e stream. It is fr eely admitted that there are very few situa tio ns where knowledge is adequate to the intelligent application

of such standards. In Australia with very wide fluctuations in river flows due to seasonal conditions or the controlled release of water from storages for irrigation, hydroelectric power or salinity control, the application of such standards will be even more difficult. 30

In the meantime this should not be used as an excuse for neglecting to get on with the job of cleaning up the many obvious and gross examples of industrial pollution in Australia.

Salinity Some Australian rivers are naturally saline. The salinity of others is increased by the actions of man. Both natural circumstances and th e activities of man affect the River Murray, which has the most important salinity problem in Australia.

The Murray and its tributaries form the largest river system in Australia. The catchment comprises five- sixths of New South Wales, more than one-half of Victoria, one-sixth of Queensland and about one-fourteenth of South Australia.

The Murray itself is 1,600 miles long and is managed, under the River Murray Waters Agreement, by the River Murray Commission, which has authori ty to make quantitative assessments but no specific authority with respect to water quality. The Governments of the

Commonwealth, ew South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are parties to this Agreement which provides that the minimum quantity of water to be allowed to pass for su pply to South Australia in each year shall be sufficient to main tain certain specified flows in the lower

river currently varyin a from 4 7 000 acre-fee t a month in th e winter ' "' ' 'mon ths ro 134,000 acre-1'eet a month in the 4 summer months of maximum demand-the total amounting to 1,254,000 ac re-feet


Scale of Miles

Fig . 12 River Murray catchment

over 12 months. The flow at Albury is shared equally by New South Wales and Victoria, and each of these States bas full control of the tributaries in its own area below Albury, subject in each case to the fulfilment of the South Australian allocation.

Salinity in the Murray River is not a new problem. Salinities of more than 1,000 parts per million total dissolved solids were recorded at Red Cliffs and Merbein in March 19 26. But it is a problem of which horticulturists have become more aware in recent years as more of them have used overhead sprays for the irrigation of citrus trees, making them more sensitive to salinity.

Water quality in the Murray deteriorates progressively. In the upper reaches it is less than 30 parts per million total dissolved solids but at Waikerie in South Australia it exceeded 600 parts per million for much of the irrigation season during the 1967-68 drought.



After prolonged and widespread requests for action to comb at pol­ lution, the River Murray Commission decided in 1966 to engage a con­ sultant to make a survey, ascertain the views of the people in the area affected, and report to the Commission on the steps that might be

taken to overcome or mitigate the effects of salinity in the river. When this Committee took evidence from Mr B. J . Callinan of the consultant firm , Gutteridge , Haskins and Davey, in June 1969 , the report had not been completed and Mr Callinan informed us only in general terms. 31

He said that salinity levels acceptable for irrigation water could not be stated unequivocally as a single value. They depended upon th e crop, soil properties and the way in which the water was applied. Nevertheless it could be said that the upper limits acceptable fo r stock consumpti on

were much higher than could be accepted for any pasture or horti­ cultural use. In Australia there was no agreed or statutory set of standards for a potable water supply but the waters in the lower Murray River for significant periods were below the standards of total so lid s,

turbidity and hardness that might be considered acceptable. The Murray waters were also at times below the standards required for som e indu s­ trial uses. The expense of improving them to the required standards could, in some cases, be a significant production cost.

Mr Callinan said that salt discharged into the Murray came from three sources: tributaries, drainage from irrigation areas , and ground­ water. The salt from tributaries came only from those in New South Wales and Victoria and it varied in quantity from stream to strea m. The amount of salt from irrigation drainage came from all three States­

New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia-and also varied. The quantities depended upon the area irrigated, the intensity of irrigation , the soil conditions and the drainage facilities. The salt contribu tion from groundwater depended on the relationship of the groundwater level near the river to the level in the river. The groundwater, if it was above

the river level, flowed into the river. Most of the groundwater salt came from Sou th Austral ia, largely because the river was deepl y inci sed.

Mr Callinan said the inves tigation had led to the design and estima­ tion of costs for remedial wo rks that should be carried out in the dif­ feren t regions of the Murray Valley. Among the works considered was the scheme suggested by Mr Simon Pels. It had been investigated in

detail and a preliminary design and estimate of cost had been prepared. The design developed had improved upon the initial proposal and offered the mo st likely variant to it, Mr Callinan said.

The Committee later heard details of the Pels scheme fr om Mr Simon Pels himself, who had proposed it to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust in 1967 after studying salinity problems in Califo rnia, Arizon a and Wes t P akistan. 32 He sai d th at the present use of the river for both

dra inage and supply was irrational and that it could not be justified for mu ch lon ge r. The 19 67 -6 8 drought had shown that the waters of


the Murray River could be used in South Australia only if substantial dilution flows were released upstream. At that time no large releases could be made, as storage levels were low, and salinity consequently increased significantly downstream.

The cost of the Pels scheme has not been fully estimated, but an indication was given to the Committee that the cost would not be likely to exceed the scale of expenditure on large storage dams. Mr Pels said that his scheme could save annually 500,000 acre-feet of water which would be worth about $25 million per annum.

Mr J. V. Seekamp, a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, and a mem­ ber of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science, who appeared before the Committee as a member of the Salinity Committee of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, said that the Department of Agriculture in South Australia had claimed that the use of saline irriga­

tion water over recent years had led to an annual loss of about $2 million worth of production from the irrigated fruit-growing areas in that State.33 Certainly, the Salinity Committee claimed that there were considerable losses. They were caused by such things as increased capital expenditure on under-tree sprinklers, furrow and grading machines and increased drainage; by increased labour used for installing and operating

such improvements; by the loss of crops, particularly apricots and citrus fruits; by semi-permanent and permanent damage to plantings and soil; and by increased water use, interrupted irrigations, and the costs of drainage disposal and grower education.34

Mr Seekamp said that in the Renmark area, $1 ,000 an acre wa s now considered a fair selling price for a fruit-growing property with some sort of irrigation system and possibly some drains. To drain it com­ pletely would co st from $100 to $200 an acre and to put in a full irrigation system, with some regrading to overcome problems of salinity, would cost anotl1er $100 to $200, so that salinity measures could cost about one-third of the capital cost and perhaps another 10 or 20 per cent on working cost. 35

The Pels scheme proposed that the river should continue to be used for drainage but th at water supply be drawn from artificial channels constructed along the river valley so that their bed levels we re above prevailing groundwater levels. The water supply would thus rem ain unaffected by saline groundwater inflows.

Groundwater, the level of which had risen sub tantially in irrigated areas, was very saline, as more water was added to irrigated areas th an was drained away. When drainage did return to th e river it contributed large amounts of salt. The Kerang area, via Barr Creek, contributed an estimated 180,000 tons a year, and the estimated total annual contribu­ tion from all drains in the upper sector of th e ri ver wa s 250,000 tons. Reliable sources had sa id th at in the sector between the South Aus­

tralian border and M organ 500,000 tons of salt entered th e ri ver annually. The total 750,000 tons of salt reached the river as a highly concentrated soluti on. To keep the qu ality of th e river flow acceptable,


25 7

dP.nual dilution flows of up to 500,000 acre-feet had been required. But no more than 25 per cent of both the annual entitlement plus the dilution releases had ever been used in South Australia. Dilution today was often facilitated by uncontrolled excess flows but when the national aim of a fully regulated river was achieved a substantial volume of

stored water would have to be released simply for dilution purposes. It appeared that if South Australia were to receive only its legal entitle­ ment, the quality of the water could not be maintained in that State.

Mr Pels said that his scheme would contribute greatly to irrigation efficiency and hence to water economy. It would also provide Adelaide with a high-quality water supply and postpone water shortages in th at city for many years. Mr K. W. Lewis had already told us that 86 per

cent of South Australia's reticulated water supplies came from the Ri ve r Murray and metropolitan reservoirs36 and of that 86 per ce nt , 38 per cent came from the Murray.a1

The Committee was impressed with the boldness and logic of the Pels scheme and was pleased to note that it was being further studi ed . But we had no access to the assessment of it made by Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey. In his evidence for that firm, Mr Callinan said th at

the most likely variant of the proposal provided for water to be taken fro m the Murray near Tocumwal and carried north of the ri ver to meet the supply to Adelaide from Mannum. This main channel wo ul d supply the existing irrigation areas and communities by ch an nel or piped connections. 3s

The people most concerned with salinity of the Murray were people in the Sunraysia area and in South Australia, as they were the ones most affected. The Salinity Committee of the Australian Dried Fruits Asso­ ciation presented in evidence an extract from a paper by Mr Seekamp, who pointed out what we heard many times: that groundwater, when

its level rose above the level of the river bed, flowed or seeped into th e river. He said that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation had shown that water was moving from the irrigation area at Renmark in South Australia towards the river. It was clear that thi s

natural seepage caused a significant rise in the salt content of the Murray River as it passed R enmark. Similar seepages were evident near Merbein and other places in Victoria. Moreover, the tempo of drain installation was increasing in the Nyab, Swan Hill, Cohuna, Kerang

area and most of the effluent was returned to the river. At R obinval e all discharge was back into the river and in the Sunraysia area som e was pumped into channels, some into evaporation basins and some into the river. In most of the areas along the river in South Australi a an attempt was made to keep drainage water from returning directl y to the river but natural seepage had continued and recent observations bad shown that sub-surface seepage from evaporation basins close to the river did occur. 39

This Committee has no doubt that the salinity of the Murray River is one of th e biggest wa ter pollution problems facing Australia. It


threatens large exporting primary industries and its menace is growing every year. Despite the work of a number of dedicated growers, there is some evidence indicating irresponsibility on the part of individual growers, a lack of co-ordination between the States, an even more lamentable lack of anti-pollution powers among the organisations involved with the management and use of the Murray, and a pressing need for some overall organisation which could analyse the problem and

effectively solve it.

Lack of Awareness When Captain Arthur Phillip disembarked about a thousand souls from the First Fleet of eleven ships in 1788 he did so at Sydney Cove because there, at the bead of the cove, was a freshwater stream. It was a ferny little creek, only a half-mile long, rising in a spongy swamp near

the present Hyde Park and flowing north between the modern-day Pitt and George Streets into a tidal estuary at the cove. In 1788 the VaJe of Sydney was covered in a forest of Sydney red gum, Banksias, wattles, Eucalypts and cabbage tree palms. The trees shaded an undergrowth of flowering shrubs, grasses, orchids, ferns and mosses. In this idyllic vale

the little stream was fed and filtered from the seepages of the humus, mosses and ferns that flourished in the shallow topsoil, carpeting the land about the cove. But the new settl ers from the damp islands of Great Britain did not understand this. They believed that springs of fresh water were perennial : streams bubbled up from the earth and

just kept bubbling on.

For a while this one did. During the first few weeks of settlement the ships sent boat parties to the head of the estuary at Bridge Street and as soon as the ebb-tide bad swirled the salt water away, they would fill their casks with fresh water and return with them to the ships. The shore party aJso drew its water from the stream. It sent convicts to haul its water casks along Spring Row (George Street) or Pitt Row and fill them near the present General Post Office.

But soon the s ttlers decided they needed land as well as water. And they needed it most around the little stream that sustained them. They began to fell the trees and clear th e undergrowth , to hoe the soil and to cultivate it. Innocently, unwittingly, they caused Australia's first, not worst, and certai nl y not last, pollution of a waterway in the name of progress.

They fail ed to realise that in removing the undergrowth they were depleting their water storages, that in loosening the topsoil they were making it easy for the heavy rains to wash it free of the sandstone beneath and to send it swirling turbidly into the stream. They fail ed to realise too that in settling around th e stream they were accumulating

potentia] water pollutants, the residues of a primitive civilisation , which were soon washed into the stream.


2 59

As a result of the clearing, the stream dried to a trickle within a year. The convicts bad to excavate three storage tanks in the sandstone and the creek became known as the Tank Stream.

As the population increased so did the quantity of pollutants washed into it. The little creek that once bubbled past the lyre-birds and flowed through the ferns gradually became a stinking, ugly open drain washing the rotting refuse of a nondescript settlement into the waters of Sydney

Cove. Eventually it was enclosed in stone-walled channels, arched over, then built over. Today it flows 15 feet below street level in a storm­ water tunnel only 4 feet 6 inches high. Sloshing his way through the channel today, the visitor may wipe away the slime and grease to see

the only beauty the Tank Stream now holds: the fine Scottish tiles that line it. 40

The story of the pollution of the Tank Stream is the story of pollution by ignorance. It is a story that has been repeated in its essentials again and again throughout the recorded history of Australia. It is still being repeated, but on a bigger scale in many more parts of the country.

We still squander our nearest resources. We still pollute by haphazard clearing, unthinking horticulture and perverse and obstinate irrigation. We still allow growing towns to overrun our resources. Almost two cen­ turies after Phillip we are still living in our own filth. The main difference

is that as the population has expanded, it has become less noticeable. We no longer see our water pollution in our main streets. Streams that have become the graveyards for automobile carcasses tend to be out of sight. Few people see the raw sewage discharging into them. The oil

and grease balls wash by virtually unnoticed because we have pu shed them out of sight, and thus out of mind. And yet these waters are defiled by people. What is more, they are often defiled for a pittance.

We have relied largely upon private conscience, rather than upon public action, to preserve our waters. This, of course, has failed. As a whole, we are moved only by outrages that thrust themselves upon our notice. We deplore them as social and physical evils. We criticise them or

recoil in horror. But outrages are not to be despised. They probably form the most potent weapon we have today in the fight against water pollution ignorance. But they are not the best possible weapon. We as a nation should be looking for positive benefits from abatement, not

just seeking the absence of something harmful.

There is very little planning to combat pollution. There are still fe wer programmes being implemented. It is only when an outrage makes danger imminent and ominous that we are jolted into action. It is only then that the familiar sequence of social shock and vocal response begins , sometimes leading to 'something being done about it'.

It would be quite wron g to say that Australians as a whole_ :rre conscious of water pollution today. Recent newspaper and televlSlon publicity has made some of them aware that there is a 'problem' called 'water pollution', but between the abstract problem that shimmers


only school or department of public health engineering in any Aus­ tralian university. I feel that in the future you must realise that this is, of course, an inter-disciplinary problem- / refer here to pollution. It

concerns the medical man, the biochemist and the engineer who also must play a pretty important role. Under the present set-up he has quite a good deal of responsibility and power and it is essential that he should be well educated. 44

In Queensland, Mr L. de W. Henry, echoing the words of Professor Munro, said that lack of training was a very real problem. There was a scarcity not only of trained people, but also of lecturers. 'I feel that for some years to come we can only afford to have one public health engineering course in Australia, otherwise they will become less than desirable in their standards', he said. 45

This Committee does not pretend to know h0w best to get a full programme of professional training and public education under way. It knows only that one should be started and that preferably it should be on a national scale. In this field the St ates

have been slow to take a hand or lend one. Saving water

will be only part of the task of education, but it seems to be a good way of coming to grips with the problem. We certainly agree with the World Health Organisation expert committee which said that research needs were important, but the need for action was often even more urgent. 46

It seems to us that in any education programme the positive benefits of abatement should be emphasised, but the emphasis should go beyond this . People must be made to see their environment and, in most cases, to use it. A stream is not necessarily beautiful in its setting. If it is sur­ rounded by run-down open spaces, abandoned farms, dull woodlands and a nondescript landscape, it may not be beautiful at all. It seems to us that it is necessary to improve not only the quality of the water but also the quality of its surroundings if it is to be valued as worth saving or worth preserving. In addition, a 'useless' or inaccessible stream may not be valued very highly by the community. If its only

virtue is that it is unspoiled, its eventual fate may be that it is desecrated.

References 1. E vidence, p. 923 2. Evidence, p . 1187 3, 'Water and Waste W ater. and Water Pollution Control in Australia', p. 9 4. Thistlethwayte, p. 11 5. Evidence, p. 2468 6. Evidence, pp. 1187-8 7. Evidence, pp. 1491-2 8. Evidence, p . 2083 9. Thistlethwayte, p. 9 10. Tbistlethwayte, p. 11 11. L. de W. Henry. 'Cu rrent Standards for Sewage Treatment' (Exhibit I), p. 3 12. Evidence, pp. 4584-5 13. Evidence, p. 4587 14. Evidence, p. 4585 15. Evidence, p. 992 16. Evidence, p. 994


26 3

17. Evidence, p. 995 18 . Evidence, p. 4633 19. Evidence, p. 4805 20. Evidence, p. 58 21. Evidence, p. 924 22. See, for example, the evidence of Mr J. D. Brookes, E vidence, p. 1695, and

Motherwell Bridge (Australasia) Pty Ltd, Evidence, p. 1749. 23. Evidence, p. 2177 24. Evidence, pp. 2177-8 25. Evidence, p. 2043 26 . Evidence, p. 2067 27 . Evidence, p. 4806

28. Evidence, pp. 924-5 29 . Report of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Water Quality Criteria, Water Quality Criteria, Washington, 1968, p. viii 30. Evidence, p. 925

31. The fol.lowing summary comes from Evidence, pp. 3556-9 32. Evidence, p . 4540 ff. 33. Evidence, pp. 425 and 442 34. Evidence, pp. 428-9

35. Evidence, p . 442 36. Evidence, p. 296 37. Evidence, p. 328 38. Evidence, p. 3559

39. Evidence, pp. 423-4 40. This account of the Tank Stream was drawn from P . R. Stephen en, Th e History and D escription of Sydney Harbour, Adelaide, 1966, pp. 134-7 , and Gavin Souter and Quinton D avis, Sydney, Sydney, 1965, p. 20 41. Address to the Australian Conservation Foundation, 24 April 1970 42 . Evidence, p. 2701 43. Address to the Australian Conservation Foundation 44. Evidence, pp. 1591-2 45. E vidence, p . 1864

46. World Health Orga n isa ti on E xpert Committee. Water Pollution Control, Geneva, 1966, p. 27


6 The Economic Implications of Water Pollution

When the mythical Hercules was se t the 'impossible' task of cl eaning the Augean stables he showed it was possible, by diverting the rivers Alpheus and Peneus through them, to carry away the wastes. This may have been a brilliant solution for its time and place, but today the

same solution would probably cause trouble. Hercules had to solve a physical problem. He did not have to take into account the economic and social costs that the pollution might have incurred downstream. It would not be difficult to imagine the reaction today of, say, a food manufacturer downstream of the stables who bad to pay to purify the water before he could use it. But in mythical times when gods were many and people few, water was plentiful and users were not many. Hence there would have been very few economic problems involving water. Today the amount of water bas not changed. There is exactly the same amount of water in the world now as there was then. 'Last night's potatoes', as the editors of Life magazine put it, 'may have boiled in what was, ages ago, the bath water of Archimedes'.! But there is one significant difference. Today there may be a price on the pint that boils the potatoes whereas the gallons in the bath of Archimedes were probably free. This is because, although the total amount of water remains the same, there are many more people, in highly concentrated groupings, competing for the use of limited water resources.

The physical form of water is difficult

theless, technicalities aside, there remains the big question of how much society is willing to pay for the regeneration. It may be willi ng to pay for complete metropolitan sewage treatment over a long period bu t it may no•t be willing to allow a lake to die completely, to pay to have it emptied, and to wait 150 years for it to refill with cl ean water.

Society, if not willing to do this, must be prepared to keep the lake clean, or fai rly clean. Indeed, our society must make its ch oices not only between pollution and no pollution bu t between various degrees of pollution.

The Basic Approach The Committee sets out in this chapter not to solve problems but to suggest certain promising approaches to th em and to shed some ligh t on difficult and complicated ques tions,


26 5


I \

Fig. 13 The hydrological cycle

We here take up the theme of the economics of water pollution. ln brief, economics is a theory of social choice. It does not provide all the answers to the alternatives involved in weighing different degrees of water quality against the costs of obtaining them, or of measuring pollu­ tion abatement costs against the value of other production reduced or denied by the use of water for waste disposal. But it does focus attention on the key issues and provides a way of finding the most efficient of

the alternatives that pass the first test of technical feasibility. The es sen­ tial problem is one not of pure versus impure, but of balancing alter­ native use of patterns to obtain the lowest possible cost of waste di sposal, taking into account the costs of all actual and potential users, and of

all abatement possibilities. 4 If economics is concerned with the ways in which people choose to employ resources and distribute them for consumption over time, this Committee heard very little economics talked by 1he witnesses who

appeared before it. There was a lot of talk about subsidies and tax concessions and costs of installing water treatment equipment and so on, but no attempt at all to embrace, even in general terms, the economics of pollution. The Committee does not believe that pollution

is completely beyond th e scope of ordinary economic analysis, nor does it believe that tax concessions and subsidies can be discussed usefully in isolation. The Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution, though not a group of economists, has found it useful to apply some fund amental

economic analysis to the problem of water pollution.


The whole broad issue raises immediately three aspects which must be distinguished. These are the financial implications, the economic implications and the social implications. They are outlined here in very brief terms, as a preliminary, but their main features will be discussed

later in this chapter. The financial implications relate primarily to the raising, by one means or another, of the necessary funds to meet the cost of the measures to be undertaken. These funds may be provided in a number

of ways. The costs with which we are concerned here are those that would be regarded as direct-for example, the cost of treatment plani, the cost of water storage schemes, and the like. The economic implications are more general in character, less specific in definition and less directly observable. These affect the general costs of water supplies, sewerage services and the like, without being directly measurable in the way that the financial costs may be calculated.

Then there are the social implications. These embody the factors affecting the comfort, health and well-being of the people generally, and their enjoyment of their environment. One may include in this category the sort of social costs discussed later, opportunities for the enjoyment of leisure and recreation, and the maintenance of the quality of life in


Financial In 1967, the economic cost of pollution to the United States of Implications America was estimated at $12,000 million annually. The Federal Water Pollution Control Administration in that country has begun the mam­ moth task of seeking out and collating information on pollution control

costs, and now submits annual reports to Congress on this subject. This is done to provide the basis for evaluating programmes authorised by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the development of new pro­ grammes. Studies begun in the fiscal year 1968-69 involve detailed

estimates of the cost of carrying out the provisions of that Act; a com­ prehensive study of the economic impact, on affected units of govern­ ment, of the cost of installation of treatment facilities; and a comprehen­ sive analysis of the national requirements for and the cost of treating municipal, industrial and other effluents to attain the water quality

standards required by State and Federal law. The United States study for the 5-yea r period 1969-73 projected costs of the scale of $24,000 million to $26,000 million over the period, for municipal treatment works, sanitary sewer construction, industrial waste treatment and operation, and maintenance costs for municipal and industrial treatment facilities. These figures give some indication of the enormous costs involved, both directly and indirectly.

The Committee, however, because of lack of evidence on this aspect of the subject- though strenuous efforts have been made to obtain it­ has not been able to develop a picture of the position in Australia. It is



only since the ad vent of the Federal Water Pollution Control Admini -tration in the United States that the organisation and interest generated have made possible the sort of work necessary to give a picture of th e costs there. In Australia, in the absence of national involvement and national interest in the problems of water pollution which might hav e

prompted studies of the kind necessary to obtain the economic informa­ tion on which cost asse ssments depend, the necessary work has not been done. Only a sketchy picture of direct costs in some of the releva nt areas can be obtained. For exa mple, the Committee was told in evidence some­

thing of the costs incurred by industry in treating water prior to use and in the installation of equipment fo r the treatment of effl uent. One pape r manufacturing firm stated th at it had spent more th an $2.5 mill ion on capital works for pollution abatement over the 4 years prior to it s givi ng evid ence to the Committee. 5 Another firm in for med us tha t

one plant in heavy industry had spent approximately $1,300,000 on equi pment to permit water clarification and recirculation so as to red uc e the intake of fresh wa ter, with a corresponding decrease in the quantit y of effluent discharged.6 A firm of automotive electrical engineers about

10 years ago installed a complex chemical effluent treatment plant at a cost of about $250,000, representing about 1.25 per cent of the company' s total capital investment on the site on which its plant was located.7 A witnes s representin g one of Australia's largest oil refi neri es

stated th at over th e 3 years to th e end of 1969, capital expenditure on new anti-water pollution measures to abate water pollution would have totalled nea rly $250,000. 8

The immensity of the fi nancial problem of coping with the co t of wa ter pollution may be illustrated by reference to estimates given to the Committee by the representati ve of the Sydney Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drain age Board which indica ted that the Board expected

that capital expenditure on sewerage works alone within its area would be 5490 million for the decade 1970-80, $470 million for th e decade 1980-90 and at least $320 millio n for the decade from 1990 to the year 2000.9 In the fi nancial year 1967-68, the Board spent almost $25 mil­

li on on ca pital works for the Sydney sewerage system. 1 0

The sal inity problem on the Murray River was shown , in the evidence put before this Comm ittee, to be among the country's majo r pollution problems. Th e Pels scheme was advanced as one of the main proposals for rectification of the situation, and therefore its cost and

likely benefits are of much interest. The Committee did not have any direct ev idence of th e cost of implementation of this scheme-only an indica tion th at it could be comparable with that for large storage dams . Moreover, Mr Sim on Pels told the Committee in evi dence that his scheme could save about $25 million worth of water a year.H

Beyond evidence of th is nature from a proportion only of th e repre­ sentatives of offici al authori ties and private enterprise who gave evid ence, the Committee has not been put in possession of documentary or other evid ence that wo uld en abl e it to make any realistic assessment of wh at



Economic Implications

water pollution is costing the Australian people economically in direct losses or what rectification of the present position would entail in terms of costs. With the development of current interest in the objective of preserving our environment and the quality of our waterways, there should now be a recognition of the pressing need for investigation in depth of the many aspects of water pollution in an effort to determine the financi al implications for the nation.

An endeavour to arrive at a specific assessment of the economic costs of water pollution soon makes it apparent that, particularly in Australia, the requisite background work has not yet been done. There is an obvious need for extensive and reliable information on the costs

of water pollution in -order to make a systematic attack on the problem. The direct added costs of water treatment are most easily determined. The cost of the indirect losses is difficult to estimate but undoubtedly is large. To emphasise one aspect in particular, the economic cost of

the nation's being deprived by water pollution of essential supplies of water for various uses, though difficult if not impossible to estimate at this stage, wil l unquestionably be great.

The water supplies of the future w1ll be more expensive. Most of the water that is easy to ge•t at and inexpensive is already in use. Only costlier projects can put more of the available supplies to effective use. A benefit to water management can be expected to accrue from rising

water prices. More realistic pricing of water can lead to conservation. If users pay real costs, they will learn to ration when watering the lawn or recycling for industrial use, and to dump smaller quantities of indus­ trial wastes into streams and lakes. Water is wasted-as is any other commodity-when it is free and also when the price is very low. As

has been said, water supplies will cost more in the years ahead, and the cost will go much higher than necessary if haphazard development is permitted.

In sum, society has failed full y to comprehend the size and scope of the water management task. A century ago, water management meant the construction of dams, pipelines and sewer systems. Later, it included the treating of municipal wa ter supplies to kill di sease germs. Meanwhile, rivers were improved for navigation, and dams constructed for water storage and in some instances for electrical power production. Subse­ quently, there came the building of flood control works and the pro­ tection of soils and watersheds against erosion. As more wastes went into rivers and lakes, as well as into the ocean, was te treatment works became more common and more sophisticated. When pollution began to affect beaches and spoil th e wildlife environment of rivers , lakes an d

estuaries, and when urban building began to encroach on extensive natural areas adjacent to cities, it was seen that water management must include recreation and habitat conservati on. Since World War II,


The Preservation of Meagre Water Resources

The Economic Impact of Water Pollution

26 9

water management has begun to embrace all of the above features put together. In the United States of America, by the 1960s, complete multi-purpose use came to be the recognised goal.

For the future, water management must mean the reconciliation of all uses, the preservation of water and related land resources and the provision of enough water for constantly-expanding needs. This can be accomplished only through total planning of the water environment. 12

Mr R. D. Piesse, Director of the Australian Conservation Founda­ tion, in a written submission to the Committee which was supported by oral evidence, stated that laws regarding water pollution should be made not as reaotions to the past but in anticipation of the future.13

This means that the economic cost of preserving the nation's water resources must be faced squarely and not disregarded. This is a cardinal fact that must be recognised by governments, local authorities, bu in ess enterprise, and the community, both as a national group and as

individuals. Until this recognition dawns upon Australians generall y, whatever efforts are made by any section of the community will be hampered by lack of whole-hearted support throughout the nation.

Water is a major determinant of our long-term development. As one of the driest continents, Australia therefore needs to react strenuously to reverse any trend towards the pollution of its alread y heavily-committed resources. Wastage of water will impose additional economic costs both by limiting progress and development and by

requiring ever more expenditure to be devoted to reclaiming and re-using the available water resources as many times as possible. We cannot afford to use our water only once and then discard it as being of no further use at least until the natural processes of self-purification

have restored its quality. The volume and nature of modem wastes increasingly overtax the self-purification powers of waters. Australia's population, already congregated primarily around the seaboard, is concentrating more and more in a few major urban com­

plexes which present the greatest problem of economic cost in waste disposal. Increasing industrialisation also adds to this economic burden.

The Committee was advised by a number of witnesses that with the growing demands of industry and urban development, Australia will be forced to tum more to reclamation and re-use of the available supplies of water. So one of the primary reasons for any water pollution control programme must be the need to conserve our resources.

Water pollution has consequences which in economic terms may be divided into a number of categories. First, and most readily discernible, are the effeots on the nation's water resources in terms both of quality


and of quantity available for use. Water that has deteriorated in quality to some degree as a result of pollution may be used for some purposes but not for others. Or it may be entirely unusable unless treated at considerable cost by complicated, highly technical and expensive processes.

The economic effects of water pollution are most obviously and most directly reflected in the need for more complex processes and installa­ tions for water purification. However, temporary and occasionally very serious emergencies requiring costly remedial measures are an important factor in the assessment of economic cos·ts.

The Torrey Canyon tanker disaster is an illustration of this, and, incidentally, of the extensive delays that can occur in the recoupment of costs incurred. The ship was holed on 18 March 1967 and legal proceedings brought by the Governments of the United Kingdom and France against the Union Oil Co., which had chartered the vessel, did

not end until November 1969. The twn governments were award a tntal of $US7 .2 million, which was divided equally between them, to recoup the costs of their cleaning-up operations. This was an instance of a large-scale oil spillage, but spillages of even a minor nature are a

constant source of expenditure on cleaning-up operations in ocean waters, in ports and harbours and in waters receiving street run-off and industrial waste discharges.

The standards of purity required for the production of important chemicals and foodstuffs cannot be maintained without expensive methods of water purification. With the spread of industrialisation from the beginning of the twentieth century, considerable silting up of

the rivers was caused, mainl y by the iron, coal and other mining indus­ tries. The result has been a reduction of the capacity of water bodies for self -purification.

It is difficult to apportion the cost of water purification between the elimination of certain natural substances in water and the elimination of additional substances introduced by pollution-that is , to distingu ish accurately between normal expenditure and the cost of repairing dam age. These are costs of preserving th e water reso urces of the country and they may be regarded as direct costs.

Economic costs ·that are incurred indireot ly an d are di ffic ult to measure are inflicted on the nation by water pollution in a va riety of ways . In agriculture, crops can be ruined or prod uctivity reduced by polluted water supplies. In pastoral and grazing pursu its, pollu ted supplies can cau se de aths of stock or deteri oration of anim al health, limiting output and producers' incomes.

A high level of stream fl ow can reduce the degree of pollution in a waterway. Other season al factors may redu ce the amount of erosion and 1he body of silt present in streams or may largely obviate the need to use, in a given season , pesticides and herbi ci des that in a normal season are used wid ely and result in strea m pollution following run-off


27 1

from the areas to which they are applied. The measurement of the economic costs imposed on agriculture and the pastoral industry by water pollution is therefore difficult.

Water pollution seriously affects marine life both in fresh and iD ocean and coastal waters. The Committee received much evidence about the adverse effects on fisheries of one kind or another in locatiollll throughout the continent ranging from scallop fisheries in southern Tasmania to estu arine fisheries in northern Queensland. The depletion of the marine resources described and the loss of income from the

fi sheries concerned represent economic costs. However, the evidence

submitted to the Committee was not sufficiently detailed for it to make any estimate of the magnitude of these costs. But where this kind of loss occurs, it will become a permanent one, as has happened in many in stances overseas, unless water pollution is brought under control and th e environment is restored to an acceptable state in which it can be repopulated by th e normal marine life.

Social Costs Indirect economic costs are incurred also in a social sense . The Committee has found it impossible, despite wide-ranging inquiries, to obtain inform a-tion on which, within the time at its disposal, it could base a detailed and general discussion of these. Undoubtedly they should

receive future attention in environmental studies. We believe , howeve r, since the subject of our inquiry is water pollution, that specific comment should be made about recreational and aesthetic values.

When considering the use of water for recreation, the quality of the water is as important as the area of surface, the length of stream banks or the location. 14 Streams, lakes, bays, estuaries and the like clo se to concentrations of urban population and indus•t•rialisation become polluted and undesirable fo r recreation , if not totally unsuited to it. In major cities, pollution has de stroyed valuable recreational opportunities just

where they are needed mos t. 15 People seeking the normal pleasures of wa ter-centred recreational pursuits are forced to travel farth er afi el d. In the process, additional costs are incurred and these are ex tremely difficult, if not im possible, to measure.

Though the sati sfactions derived from the general enviro nm ental attributes of a clear, uncluttered waterway in aesthetically pleas ing surroundings may be reflected in some instances in real estate values, for example, it is virtually impossible to quantify those satisfactions in

economic terms. Major problems ari se in relation to the recreational use of water­ including, but not limited to, hunting, fishing, swimming, boating and water ski-ing. The di ffic ulty of assigning economic values to the water servi ces in question is only partly inherent. H also reflects the belief, strongly held in th e United States and Canada, as well as in Australia.

that outdoor rec reati on based on public waterways ought to be fre e, or


at worst subject to only a nominal charge. Therefore it is exceptionally difficult to cost outdoor recreation services in the normal fashion, though they are economic goods that stand equally with other physical and tangible uses of resources. The problems of measuring the relative value of outdoor recreation are by no means limited to the field of water quality management, but perhaps it is fair to say that nowhere are they more frustrating. 16

Where the Cost of When an attempt is made to determine who pays the cost of water Pollution Falls pollution, little can be said in precise terms. Costs are incurred throughout the community in many ways. These costs are widely spread and to some degree every individual pays. The weight of the evidence

presented by indu try in relation to the cost of measures to treat water to the standard required for industrial processes, or of plant and equip­ ment installed to prevent pollution by the effluent discharged, suggests that the price of the product is usually adjusted to take account of these costs and that the final user of the firm's product pays in higher prices. In

many instances in the larger cities and municipalities, a charge is imposed for the discharge of industrial wastes to sewers, and the inference is that ultimately the consumer pays this also.

Water Quality and Conservation

Where costs are incurred by governments and local authorities, the citizen pays in higher rates, taxes and charges to service the authority responsible. So the community at large pays, either directly or indirectly, and usually without realising just how much pollution is costing the nation and the individual.

These considerations apply particularly to what have been described as direct costs. Where the economic costs are due to losses in produc­ tivity caused by pollution and are indirect, the actual cost does not lend itself to such ready assessment and indeed may hardly be recognised as

a cost resulting from pollution. In such instances the ultimate impact is less readily determined, and measurement of the magnitude becomes more difficult and often impossible in the present state of knowledge.

On looking back over the transcript of evidence taken (numbering 5,454 pages) it occurred to the Committee that th e record con­ tained many charges and counter-charges about the use and misuse of various water resources. Industrialists, for example, might argue that a river is best used for discharging effluents into, with reliance then being placed on the self-rejuvenating process in the stream. This, they would claim , is an effective use of a natural resource. Conservationists, on the other hand, might argue that the river is more valuable as an

aesthetic or recreation resource or a home for fish, plant and bird life.


27 3

Effluent, they would argue, has a negative value and ought to be paid for. All kinds of values are tied up in such a problem, but it is interes tin g to look at the situation in the cold light of economic values only. When

Hercules diverted his rivers, water, like air, was free but in many pl ace today it is free no longer. Goods have a price attached to th em wh en they are useful and scarce; so wherever water is useful and scarce it has its price. The economist would argue that water will be used where con­ sumers are prepared to pay enough to bid away possible altern ati ve

uses, to compensate workers, to pay for capital needed in the manufac­ turing process, and to compensate for the disposal of waste. While con­ sumers are willing to pay the prices demanded for the manufac turer's product and he is willing to pay the price for the water, he will go on

using it. But the market does not fail the conservationist altoge th er. Ultimately there may come a time when scenic and 'conservation' water resources are so scarce that they will become more valu able th an the prod uct of the manufacturer. Then the consumer may be prepared to

pay the price of scenery and conserve the water and its en vironment in preference to using a stream as an industrial drain. This pres um es, of course, that it can still be used for conservation purposes. It is here that we face the need to recognise the link between water

quality and water quantity. The basic challenge in water management is to make nature's relatively fixed supply meet today's growing dem and s. This means having water of the right quality, in adequate quantity, at the right place at the right time. Obviously, the available resources

must not be wasted and squandered. Clearly, one of the keys to the situation is a programme designed to preserve and improve water quality by preventing pollutants fr om entering our rivers and streams, lakes, groundwater and co as tal wa ters. If prevention is not possible, for the time being or even ultimately, th e

utmost effort must be devoted to controlling pollutants within accept­ able limits according to the nature of the receiving environment and th e desired use for the water in that environment. An inevitable req uirement will be reclamation and the re-use of water to an increasing degree.

Originally, water pollution control measures were mainl y hea lth oriented and were designed principally to prevent and eliminate wa ter­ borne diseases. Water supply treatment plants were designed to provide suitable drinking water and the natural purifying capacity of water was relied on to deal with the wastes discharged into streams and oth er

waters. Such treatment of wastes as was provided as a rule merely removed th e most objectionable forms of pollution which were offensive to man and destructive to fish and wildlife. In overseas countries that have done the most work on the preve nti on of water pollution, the basic concept has changed. The objective is

now to treat effluents to such a degree as will permit a wide ran ge of water uses for municipal, industrial and agricultural supply, and for recreation and as a fit habitat for fish and wildlife. R ather than


The Natural Heritage of Good Water

permit the wastage of a sometimes plentiful resource, the emphasis is now-and must be-on the conservation of that resource as it daily becomes more important to man's use and enjoyment of his whole environment.

So far, the water uses mentioned have been mainly what are des ­ cribed as withdrawal uses. In terms of what we all regard as our natural heritage of ample supplies of good, clean water for whatever use we wish to make of it, we may regard the other aspects as equally

important. These are the uses that take place within the water body itself, such as navigation, recreation in all its many and varied forms, commercial fishing and shellfish production.

Water is a magnet, whether in urban or rural locations, and people, wherever they live, exhibit a strong urge to live beside a body of water and to enjoy water views and water-oriented recreation. The public expects a body of water to be attractive and refreshing. Much of the public protest against pollution is inspired by the absence of these qualities. In a direct sense, an important natural heritage of the people is deteriorating as expectations for water usage for these purposes are


Conflicts between In our society few social or economic problems arise where a person Water Users on the incurs all the costs and inconveniences associated with reaping all the Same Stream benefits from his economic decisions. The problems begin to occur when the effects of his decisions fall on someone else. If he continues to

reap all the benefits but causes his neighbour to incur extra costs, there is an economic conflict. Even then the solution may not necessarily demand government intervention. If, for example, there are two factories on a stream and the upstream factory discharges effluent into th e stream, causing measurable damage to the water used by the down­ stream factory, and if the matter can be dealt with at law, then the downstream factory may sue for damages. The upstream factory will probably continue production and will pay the damages if they are les s than the net value of output and less than the costs of pollution control. Thus the upstream factory will pay for pollution control on its premise if the cost is less than the value of damage caused by pollution, or th e downstream factory will endure the damage but receive full compensa­ tion. The solution is therefore efficient and just, and there is no need for government intervention.

This analysis, of course, does not take account of the fact th at th e user upstream may treat and discharge only a small percentage of the flow past his plant. The proportion used by him may have a very material effect, either beneficial or harmful, on another user downstream.


Waste Treatment Expenditure as a Cost of Production

27 5

Industrial wastes and their treatment pose considerable problems for industries themselves and for the public authorities responsible for the sewerage facilities serving industrial areas. An industry that dis­ charges pollutants tends to raise, first of all, the economic argument

that if it builds a waste-treatment facility, its costs are increased and it bas to raise its prices, whereas competitors who are in situations in which they can avoid the necessity for providing similar facilities can undersell the firm. This imbalance as between industries can ari e

because of natural differences in locations, and because of variations in the degree of responsibility to wards the preservation of the environment accepted by individual firms , as well as because of va ri ations in th e enforcement policies and strictness of supervision exercised by public


Furthermore, an industry may prefer, if it is permitted to do so, to discharge wastes to a water body instead of to sewers if a charge is imposed for such discharge, as is a fairly common, and growing, practice these days. When asked about the possibility of trade wastes

bei ng treated by the discharging firm to bring them to a standard acceptable fo1' discharge to sewers , Mr H. C. Hunt, Chief H eal th and Building Inspector of the Bankstown Municipal Council , sa id in evi dence : 'Each waste has to be treated as a separate problem. There is no doubt that any waste can be treated. It is purely a matter of co t .

we have found that many industries discharge into th e neare t creek or stormwater channel rather than to a sewe r for the reason that th ey do not have to pay trade waste charges if they do this. ft i an added item of expense on their cost of production. We str ike the situ a­

tion where most industries say : "We would not disch arge thi s part icular chemical ; this is our profit" . But, of course, the cost of reclaiming it i so great that th ey would prefer to discharge it. all wastes can

be treated . It depends at what cost.' 18 On the ground that all industries should accept equ al res pons ibility in th eir attitude to community problems such as these and to th e effect on th e env ironment generally, evidence of this kind suggests th at it is esse ntial that firms regard the cost of waste-treatment equi pment as an

integral part of the cost of production of the product. The ex ten t to which an industry may be entitled to call on the com­ munity to subsidi se, in one way or an other, its waste treatment co b, or for that matter any other of its costs of production, is another

ques ti on, to be approached and considered from the stand poi nt of entirely different criteri a.

Sewerage Adverting particularly to th e American scene, John Perry states: However innocent were the beginnings of pollution, one may ask why conditions were allowed to degenerate so far. The basic reason is simple: The consequences of pollution were always inflicted on some­ one else, not on the polluters or th eir neighbours.


Social Consequences and Economic Efficiency

Several years ago I attended a public hearing in an eastern city. The city council had proposed to build a half-million-dollar plant to treat the city's sewage. Spokesmen for several citizens' groups opposed the project because the city itself would get no benefit from the large

expenditure. The beneficiaries would be people downstream, who would pay no part of the cost.

Had the framers of the Constitution foreseen what would happen, they might have included a declaration that watercourses are public property and those who use them are accountable to the public. A town or industry that use the public's water would then have been responsible

for the returned water's condition. This legal philosophy is being asserted now, and it may in time prevai/. 19

One may well accept these statements as true, but there are additional factors to be taken into account, especially with respect to the discharge of sewage from ocean outfalls in situations such as that to be found in Sydney. Undoubtedly, the reasons for the situation there, which has been causing a great deal of concern in recent times, have been largely economic. Nevertheless, a sharper sense of public responsibility on the part of the local community and its administrators, at both State and local authority level, might have resulted in a somewhat different order­ ing of priorities that would have prevented the problem from becoming quite so serious as it is now.

As was revealed in the evidence given to the Committee, sewage disposal presents economic problems in many parts of Australia, whether communities are located on streams, lakes, harbours or estuaries. The Committee might well come to the conclusion, with

Perry, that communities too often have taken a narrow view that has blinded them to the effects of their sewage discharges on their fellows and on the environment generally.

What may be a credit in a private balance-sheet or a national state­ ment of accounts may well be a debit in a national conservation balance­ sheet. The ideal would be that in all these the same item would appear in the same column.

As the evidence makes abundantly clear, the tactic so often advocated was that of forcin g polluters to treat their wastes, in spite of the fact that economic efficiency could be achieved without compulsion. An economist then might reasonably ask two questions: I s the price for social justice worth paying and will compulsion achieve it or simply compound the injustices to be suffered?

Professors J. M. Stepp and H. H. Macaulay analysed the hypothetical case of two manufacturing plants located several miles apart along a stream on which there were no intervening users. 20 Each was a


Cost-Benefit Analysis


water-using or wet-process plant and the effluent from neither plant was a health hazard, but the discharge from the upstream plant reduced the quality of the downstream plant's environment by increasing operating costs and causing a deterioration in the living and working conditions of

the downstream factory's employees. Economically, the crux of th e situation was that the upstream plant made part of its net profi t becau e monetary income and psychological advantage were transfe rred from downstream to it.

Suppose the government intervened, insisting that the upstream plant, before discharging its effluent, remove all the impurities it had added to its water. This insistence would in effect send income flowing down stream to the other factory, because if the upstream plant were a norma l

wet-process plant, it would remove sediment and some other impurities from the water before using it. It would have to remove the natural impurities, plus those it added during use, before disch arging the water, thus making the water used downstream more pure th an it wou ld

otherwise have been. It would, in fact, be the normal pollution si tu ation in reverse. Again, the analysis ignores the proportion of stream flow used by the upstream plant.

The facts of economic life are, of course, not as simple as in an economic model. Out where the real waters flow and real factori es turn out real goods, life is much more complicated. On the banks of most 'industrial' streams there are usually many more factories, producing a greater variety of goods, and demanding more varied water quality.

They are also located at varying distances from one another. This does not invalidate the principles outlined above but it does make them very difficult to apply. It is difficult to prove a damages case in court; it is even more difficult to arrive at part-payment abatement agreements;

and quite impossible to measure downstream benefits. Added to all this are complications so far largely ignored: the tendency for growth to increase both the total amount of pollution and the potential damage; the hindrance caused to some kinds of development near polluted

streams; the deterioration in streams' recreation potential; and the damage that can be done to a profitable enterprise by a new polluter establishing upstream.

In assessing the benefits and costs of pollution control projects, government inevitably finds itself in the midst of a conflict. Those who will have to pay for abatement measures, such as businesses and munici­ palities, tend to inflate costs and deflate benefits. Those who particularly want the improvements-recreationists, let us say--can be counted on

to take the reverse view. 21 The benefits of environmental improvement tend to be understated because whole categories of impairment are generally ignored. Researchers usually concentrate on measuring physical damage, though


this is difficult enough as the relationships between quantity of pollutants and resultant damage are highly variable. Generally, researchers have made little attempt to quantify non-physical damage-such as the impairment of human effectiveness or well-being or the loss of recreation and aesthetic values resulting from water pollution. 22

Solid Wastes Recreational benefits and higher property values are also important in cost-benefit analysis of the disposal of solid wastes, such as garbage, sewage sludge, building rubble, motor car bodies and beer cans. Some­ times called the 'third pollution'--<.:oming after pollution of air and water-solid wastes are normally regarded as a nuisance, or worse. But they can also be considered as resources-admittedly, resources that

are out of place. One way of regarding the general objective of dealing with these is to consider it as the displacement of wastes from locations where they have negative val ue to locations where they have positive value. This can be done by sanitary landfill, as is being done at what is frequently called 'Mount Trashmore' in Illinois, where a hill is slowly being built up out of garbage. Each day's dumping makes a cell which is then covered with clay. The clay is virtually impervious to water and therefore it prevents pollution from penetration of these cells by water which could carry pollutants into streams and other water bodies. The whole is being built up into a hill 125 feet high. It will eventually feature six toboggan runs and five ski slopes, in an

area short of facilities for winter recreation. It is important that disposal of solid wastes by this or similar means should not be permitted to cause water pollution.

Landfill can be thought of as a form of recycling-in this case, using wastes as a construction material. Solid wastes may also be used as fueJ.2 3 For example, the garbage of Paris is used to fuel a steam heating plant.

In the disposal of solid wastes, novel approaches are now being experimented with. New shredding and compaction techniques, for example, can be used to squeeze waste into bricks. Compacted waste can be transported to distant sites, such as abandoned quarries. Another possibility is the liquefaction of solid waste. After grinding it into a slurry, it may be transported by pipeline to a suitable disposal site. 24

Since society has for so long allowed, free of charge, use of the natural environment for waste disposal, incentives ·to undertake research on abatement have been weak at best. Once society-by one means or another-begins to charge for the use of the environment's capacity to absorb wastes, provision for pollution control will have to be an integral part of plant design rather than an afterthought.

It is even conceivable that industrial costs will not rise at all in the medium or longer term. Pollution control not only provides incentives for more efficient operation through recycling but also makes cities and .



Interregional Competition

:conomic Incentives

27 9

towns more livable. And people who work in more livable places are perhaps content to be paid not quite so much as others. If wa ge rates in the future are even slightly lower than they would have been if the cities and towns had remained polluted, the difference might offset industry's increased costs of pollution controJ.25

Such complications make life difficult, but they do not in themselves justify the imposition of rigorous and uniform nation-wide controls because, as Pwfessors Stepp and Macaulay point out, 'regulation itself can pollute the environment by reducing freedom, economy and con­ venience; by subjecting people to bureaucratic harassment; and by

restricting certain productive uses of water and other natural resources. This is another reason why pollution control should be approached with a certain amount of caution.'26 They stress that there is no single solution to th e pollution problem and emphasise the point that the choice is not

the simple one between a clean environment and a polluted one. By forbidding certain low-income areas from permitting reductions in wa ter quality, standard makers might be forbidding them from making productive use of the ve ry resources which give them a basis for com­ peting with more developed areas. Hence rigorous, general and uniform standards may have an application that could well be considered unfair.

Water pollution control can affect interregional economic competition only to the extent th at it changes the costs of industry and go ve rnment. The effects on particular regions will be influenced by the importance of water-process industry in th eir economy, the relative importance of waste-treatment costs in the cost structure of the plants, and the extent

to which pollution control costs differ from region to region. Controls may prevent the development of an area with plenty of good water but o·therwise not well endowe d with natural resources or the advantages of be ing close to markets. Moreover, rigorous and uniform controls on all plants, regardless of age or location, would penalise older areas, where the plants would probably not have been design ed for efficient efflue nt treatment, and favour newe r areas where they were.

In the context of the Australian Federal system and our structure of local government, regional competition has consequences of major significance for both State and local authorities.

Professors Stepp and Macaulay point out that if subsid ies an d tax concessions were used to encourage the construction of pollution abate­ ment they mi ght encourage heavy investment in existing technology, because of a fear that th e subsidi es might be short-lived, and discourage


investment in research into new methods. Thus a firm or a municipality might reason that it would be better to pay part of the cost of an

inefficient facility immediately than to risk paying all of the cost of an improved facility in the future. On the other hand, 1hey would delay their investment if there were no subsidy now but there were the possibility of getting one in the future.

In dealing with the problem of low-efficiency sewage treatment, the regulations and incentives required might be quite different from those required for encouraging the construction of facilities for treating industrial effluent. Professors Stepp and Macaulay suggest an effluent charge based on the amount of waste materials removed, or a variable subsidy based on the amount removed. They argue strongly that the

ideal solution to the pollution problem is to substitute pollution-free processes or products for those that pollute. This could be done if financial incentives were strong enough but, they say: 'Subsidies, and other kinds of financial assistance for cons·tructing and operating waste­

treatment facilities, can have only negative value in encouraging the development and adoption of pollution-free processes and products. Enforcement of stream standards or effluent standards would be better for this purpose, and a system of vMiable effluent charges would be

best of all. Avoiding the charge would constitute a financial reward for developing a pollution-free process in the same way that a tax reduction in the financial reward for discovering a loophole in a tax law.'27

Standards Before discussing taxation concessions and subsidies in more detail it is worth while examining more closely the effects of various kinds of pollution controls.

If a stream is regarded as an economic resource and the only aim is to use it most efficiently, this will be achieved when each user receives the same net benefit from the last unit he consumes. Broadly, there have been two ways suggested for achieving this. The first is to set effluent standards, either a uniform standard or one which has regard for the nature or use of the stream. The second way is to make a payment. Either a user could pay a tax based on the quantity and quality of the effluent his plant di scharges, or a pollution control agency could pay firms th at reduce the quantity or raise the quality of effluent discharged.

All this adds up to an argument that the best use of water resources will depend on the circumstances affecting both upstream and down­ stream users, and it follows , therefore, that different streams should have different requirements for cleanliness and purity and that a single stream might well have several different standards along its course.2 8 Regula­

tions governing stream purity will consequently depend on user demands; they may vary between streams and between one part of a stream and another; and they will change as the demand for water changes. 29


28 1

Each firm would decide, upon the basis of cost, how much to dis­ charge, thus disposing of total waste in the most efficient way. Those who could find a better alternative to paying for the use of th e stream would do so and be rewarded for their ingenuity. Those who could not

would pay for the privilege of polluting. Thirdly, payments would have the advantage of being varied more readily than standards.3o

A disposa l tax would make the polluter assume costs related to his pollution. Part of the revenues could go to finance regional development authorities th at would undertake research and plan and construct collec­ tive treatment facilities.

An effl uent charge system would enable each water user to find hi own best ratio of pollution-abatement measures and effluent charges . Moreover, an adequately designed system of charges gives the polluter an incenti ve to carry treatment further than he would under a uniform

standard. If the standard is 85 per cent removal of BOD, the polluter will pres um ably not exceed it. But if be has to pay for all BOD, he has an incentive to push treatment to a higher level-say 95 per cent removal-as long as the additional cost is less than the effluent charges

thereby avoided.

In addition, cost reductions could probably be achieved by placing entire river basins under the jurisdiction of regional authorities that would build and operate large-scale treatment facilities yielding sub­ stantial economies of scale. 3 1

Subsidies Whichever method was used-standards or payments- th e res ult would be increased costs for water users and, as this Committee has seen, an inevitable demand for subsidies and tax concessio ns. If there were two plants producing a similar product and the process of one we re less efficient and produced greater quantities of waste than the

other, the less efficient pla nt would qualify for the larger subsidy because it would be discharging more wastes.

This Committee found th at the effect of increased costs on firm s operating at marginal profits was used frequently as an argument in favour of concessions and subsidies and against charges. The increased costs, it was argued, would drive them out of business. Stepp and Macaulay have an interesting observation on this argument:

This, however, is the same problem continuously faced by firm s when the cost of their labor rises, the rent on their land goes up, or a new production process makes existing plant and equipment inefficient and obsolete. These are generally recognised as conditions that a firm must face and overcome if it wishes to compete success­

fully for scarce resources to be used in making a product that consumers want. At all times, there are some firms that are unable to adjust to the new conditions or there are some consumers who decide th ey


do not want the product at the higher price, and so a few firms are forced to close down. In the case of water, some will argue that higher cfuuges or more stringent requirements for purity are arbitrary and imposed by the government for the welfare of others and that, therefore, the increased cost should be borne by others through a subsidy or tax relief. The new charges are in effect putting the costs on

those who are creating the wastes and using the waste-assimilating capacity of th e stream. They are not arbitrary, if determined as suggested, and are not designed to benefit others but to allocate charges to users of a resource. Th ere is little call for tax relief for these reasons.

The alleged nonproductive nature of pollution-abatement equipment also deserves brief comment. The same charge could be levied against many of the goods and services bought by the typical firm. Heating equipment, air conditioners, water fountains and the like do not contribute directly to the change in the form of raw materials normally carried on in each plant. There might even be legitimate questions

raised about funds spent on telephones, typewriters, and office equip­ ment. Yet each of these expenditures does contribute to the more efficient operation of the firm, and the improvement that results is considered to be worth the cost or the expenditure is not made. The

so lid wastes that firms pay to ha ve hauled away are analogous to wastes dumped into streams. Y et few firms seem to have argued that th ey should not be charged for garbage collection.

It is true that firms might be overcharged for some service, and hence plead that they are paying for nonproductive resources. If only business firm s paid for garbage collection and, as a result, home owners received the service without charge, firms would have a legitimate complaint. But where a firm's wastes cause damage downstream, this is a co st of producing the product and the cost must be borne by th e firm. 32

Tax Concessions Apart from the theoretical arguments discusse d above, the ev idence given to this Committee indicates th at income tax concessions should be treated cautiously. Although allowing deductions for expenditure incurred in producing assessable income is basic to the concept of taxabl e income, any deductions all owed beyond this would plainly be a subsidy. In determining whether income tax is th e appropriate method of providing such a subsidy, the follo wi ng disadvantages would have to be considered:

1. Tax concessions are regressive. Taxpayers with the highest incomes pay the highe t rates of taxes and conseq uently receive the greatest benefi ts from a reduction. Those with little or no income and lo w li abi li ties gain only in significantly.


Proposals for Concessions


2. After making the expenditure which qualifies for a tax conces ion, recipients have to wait for up to 2 years before they receive the benefits of the concession.

3. They often find it difficult to determine what benefits they will receive, as these will depend on the taxation for which th ey will be liable in the year in question.

4. The benefi ts of taxation concessions depend in part on rates of taxation; so th at they change automatically when rates of tax a­ tion are varied.

5. R ecipients tend to regard tax concessions as a right and to give less credit to the government for providing them than in the ca e of direct subsidies.

6. The government cannot control the total amount to be expended in the form of taxation concessions: in effect, havi ng determin ed the rate at which the concessions are to be allowed, it gives th e taxpayers concerned an open cheque in relation to the class of

expenditure involved.

7. Unlike expenditures, concessions embodied in the tax law arc not subject to specific authorisation by Parliament each year; indeed it is often very difficult to ascertain the actual cost of such concessions from year to year because such costs tend to be lo t in the net fi gures of taxation collections.

8. Because such concessions reduce the taxation base, they may detract from the effectiveness of the income tax as an instrum ent of fi scal policy by means of which the government can influ ence trends in the economy. 9. Concessions of this type add to the complexity of th e tax ation

law and its administration. 10. Taxation concessions of this kind tend to give rise to tax

avoidance problems, with the result that they often require stringent administration and frequent and complex amendmen t of the taxation law.

This Committee beard many pleas for taxation concessions, and the main ones sought were: 1. An extension of the existing investment allowance provided in respect of manufacturers' and primary producers' plant, so a to

permit, in addition to the normal depreciation allowances, an immediate income tax deduction for part of the capital co t of plant and equipment installed to counter water pollution. 2. Allowance of deductions, in the year incurred , of the full capital

cost of such plant-in lieu of depreciation allowances spread ove r the respective lives of the items; or alternatively, accelerated rates of depreciation to be applied to pollution control plant.


!5099/ 70-9

Investment Allowance

3. Provision by th e Commonwealth of a subsidy or capital grants scheme to assist individual businesses-the amounts received by taxpayers to be tax-free.

4. A request that loans raised by appropriate authorities to finance sewerage undertakings be subject to taxation concessions (pre­ sumably in the same way that interest rebates were formerly allowed on Commonwealth loans) .

5. Exemption from sales tax of plant and equipment for countering pollution.

There are im portant principles of taxation law involved in these proposals an d these principles are worth di scussing.

The investment allowance provides a deduction which is additional to normal depreciation allowances, and consequently taxpayers can receive income tax deductions amounting to 120 per cent of their actual expenditure on any plant that qualifies for the allowance.

In appropriate circumstances, plant installed to combat pollution may qualify for the investment allowance if it is used primarily and principally, and directly, in the di sposal of waste substances resulting from the use of any property in manufacturing operations .

Not in all cases does the capital cost of plant and equipment used by manufacturers in controlling pollution qualify for the investment allowance as the law stands. As a general proposition such plant would attract the deduction (although the elimination of water pollution was never a factor in determining the allowance), but there would be some items which would not qualify, even incidentally.

The granting of tax concessions on a differential basis to a section of the community or to a sector of industry-no matter what the stated intention or motive fo r the concession might be-inevitably leads to pressure for the extension of the concession to other taxpayers. Just as inevitably it is claimed that the degree of assistance afforded by the concession is inadequate, and pressure for its increase follows .

Accelerated It has been suggested that either the cost of relevant equipment should Depreciation be allowable as an immediate deduction for income tax purposes, or alternatively, accelerated rates of depreciation should be applied to such plal'lt in order to provide some financial ass istance to industries faced

with heavy expenditure in this field .

As a general principle, rates of depreciation are fixed by the Com­ missioner of Taxation having regard to the estimated effective life of each unit of property, assuming that it is maintained in reasonably good


Deductions for Capital Expenditure


order and condition. The allowance of depreciation on this effective life basis follows a fundmental accounting principle that costs should be matched against income.

Normal rates of depreciation are, of course, allowed on plant and equipment used by industries in reducing water pollution-such as on equipment for recirculating water-and, where appropriate, plant and buildings used for scientific research into water pollution problems in

industry would qualify for the special 33t per cent rate. In addition, deductions are allowed for expenses incurred in maintaining and operating the plant.

Accelerated depreciation allowances do not necessarily have the effect of making the total tax payable over the full life of the plant either more or less than it would otherwise be. Relief may be provi ded to some extent during the first years of life of the plant, but this is offset

by additional payments of tax in later years when the cost of the item has been fully depreciated. Changes in basic tax rates will also affe ct the total tax that will be payable.

It goes without saying that any extension of special rates of deprecia­ tion to the subject plant could not be considered in isolation, as inevi t­ ably there would follow other sectors of industry pressing fo r imil ar concessions and claiming, for one reason or another, to have equal

need of assistance.

Witnesses advocating accelerated depreciation rates did so only as an alternative to allowing an outright deduction for the capi tal cos t of the relevant expenditure.

Section 51 is the general deduction provision of the Income Tax Assessment Act. It allows deductions for losses or outgoings incurred by a taxpayer to the extent to which they are incurred in gaining or producing assessable income or are necessarily incurred in carryin g on a business for the purpose of gaining or producing such incom e. Expenditure of a capital, private or domestic nature is expressly excluded

from the scope of the provision.

This section has been in the law in its present form since 1936 and two independent committees of inquiry have recommended that its principles should not be changed. The basic principle of the law is that revenue costs are allowable against revenue in determining taxable income, but losses or outgoings of capital are not. It is a principle to which most, if not all , tax systems adhere.

It has been argued th at the allowance of outright deductions of tbe costs of converting machinery during the change-over to decim al cur­ rency is a precedent for allowing capital expenditures on controlling pollution. But it is not considered that the conversion of machinery for


Tax -free Common­ wealth Grants

loans- ar Grants for Sewerage Undertakings

use with decimal currency can be regarded as analogous to the installa­ tion of pollution control plant, for the reason that the conversion to the new currency had a universal and transitory impact on the community, whereas water pollution problems, serious as they may be, are felt in limited sectors of industry only-and generally arise as a direct result of pursuing a particular field of business .

It was submitted to the Committee that assistance to industry in reducing water pollution might be provided to individual businesses by the Commonwealth Government through direct grants and that these grants should be exempt from tax in the hands of the recipient. It was suggested that unless such payments were exempt fro_n tax, the Com­ monwealth would, at current company tax rates, be recovering 45 per

cent of the cost of the grants in income tax.

Whether the Government would find it practicable or constitutionally feasible to aid industry by subsidising expenditure on pollution control at the individual company level involves questions of Government policy, but there are some income tax aspects of the proposal which

deserve comment.

It is specifically provided in the existing law that the assessable income of a taxpayer includes any bounty or sub sidy received in or in relation to the carrying on of a business, and it is clear that this provision would apply to a grant or subsidy along the lines that have been suggested. Accordingly, it would require a specific departure from long-standing principles in order to free such payments from tax, and this in turn

would throw open for similar exemption the whole range of grants, bounties and subsidies which taxpayers now receive from governments and various authorities.

It is worth noting that though it is true that subsidies are subject to tax, generally the expenditure of the amounts received-in this case, on preventing pollution- would qualify for deduction under one or other of the income tax provisions and so offset the tax that would otherwise arise from the subsidy. Thus a taxable grant given to assist in buying necessary plant would be offset by depreciation allowances and, where appropriate, investment allowance deductions.

As a means of assisting municipal bodies to raise loans for sewerage works it has been suggested that some form of taxation concession might be offered to attract lenders. In the absence of a detailed sub­ mission it has been assumed th at what is envisaged is a provision similar

to the income tax rebate which formerly applied to interest derived from Commonwealth loans.


28 7

An alternative approach for which there was some support in the evidence was for the Commonwealth to make specific purpose grants to States to assist local sewerage undertakings to reach a basic standard. The question raised by this is the extent to which the community in

general should pay for the sins of omission of the residents of one area while the remainder of the community has already paid to reach that basic standard.

Sales Tax A s an incentive to companies to expend money on equipment to Exemptions control pollutants, some preferential treatment in the sales tax area has been advocated in evidence. But existing exemptions from sales tax would seem already to apply to the great bulk of goods of this nature.

Under the sales tax exemption provisions applicable to aids to manu­ facture, exemption from sales tax applies to goods for use by a manu­ facturer in any process or treatment undertaken for the purpose af disposing of waste substances resulting from his manufacturing opera­

tions. Plant used by a manufacturer in treating or purifying the ind u -trial effiuents from his factory, and in testing the degree of pollu ti on of the treated effiuents, would ordinarily be exempt from sales ta x.

A comparable exemption applies to plant used in purifying or treatin g effiuents from mines or in treatment works.

Public authorities such as municipal and shire councils and water supply, sewerage and drainage boards are entitled to exemption fr om sales tax on all goods for their use and not for sale. Sewage treatment equipment for use by these authorities is therefore exempt from sales tax.

Household type septic tanks and septic tank installations are exempt from sales tax but other sewage treatment equipment owned by firm s or individuals is taxable at 15 per cent. Grease traps are exempt fr om sales tax.

The Choice of the The Committee holds the general view that the foregoing argument& 11ethod of Assistance against the adoption of the tax concessions outlined are valid and that the better approach would be to seek some workable method of giving assistance, by way of grant or subsidy, which would take into account

a fairly defi ned, measurable amount of assistance that could continually be subjected to review.

In all of the a pects discussed in this chapter, the greatest concern must be directed to the welfare of the community generally and, there­ fore, to the effects of water pollution on the community at large, with special attention to means of abating pollution. Being of this opinion,

the Committee accepts the proposition that public authorities at the Commonwealth, State and local authority level, statutory bodies,


industry and individual citizens must be prepared to give closer attention than has been given in the past to any practicable proposals to preserve the environment for the benefit of all Australians.

References I. Life Science Library, Water, p. 33 2. Robert H. Rainey, 'Natural D isplacement of Pollution from the Great Lakes', Science, March 1967, pp. 1242-3 3. United States Geological Survey Circular 476, Principal Lakes of the United

States, p. 18 4. James A. Crutchfield, 'Economic Analysis in Water and Air Quality Manage­ ment', Pollution, University of Victoria Press, Victoria, British Columbia, 1969, p . 66 5. Evidence, p. 1694

6. Evidence, pp. 4582-3 7. Evidence, p. 989 8. Evidence, p. 3694 9. Evidence, p. 1494 10. Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, Annual Report, Sydney,

November 1968? 11. Evidence, p . 4561 12. Senator Frank E. Moss, The Water Crisis, New York, 1967, pp. 282-3 13. Evidence, p. 4925

14. Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, Outdoor Recrea tion for America, Washington, January 1962, p. 70 15. Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, p. 87 16. Crutchfield, pp. 69-70 17. Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, p. 87

18. Evidence, p . 4639 19. Our Polluted World: Can Man Survive?, New York, 1967, pp. 74-5 20. The Pollution Problem, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Washington, 1968, pp. 54-5 21. Sanford Rose, 'The Economics of Environment', Fortune (special issue),

Chicago, February 1970, p. 120 22. Rose, p. 121 23 . Rose, pp. 122 and 184 24. The Citizens Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality, Community

Action for Environmental Quality, Washington, 1970, p. 27 25. Rose, p . 186 '26. T7z e Pollution Problem , p. 20 27. The Pollution Problem, pp. 24-5

28. The Pollution Problem, p . 41 29. Th e Pollution Problem, p . 43 30. The Pollution Problem, pp. 45-6 31. Rose, p. 186 32. The Pollution Problem, pp. 54-5


7 The Legislative Control of Water Pollution 1n Australia


It should be noted at the outset that in this chapter all references to statutes are in the form of the descriptive short title unl ess, for specific reason, it has been considered advisable to indicate th e year of enactment.

General The Committee, as it pursued its inquiries in the various States and the two Commonwealth Territories visited, quickly became aware th at in no instance was there comprehensive legislation dealing with th e subject of water pollution. Usually, the basic legislative provision has

been made in the health legislation, and much of the approach has been based on permits and penalties. This is perhaps onl y to be expected, as the problem of water pollution was originally seen pri­ marily in the light of health considerations rather than from the stand­ point of any need to preserve the ecology and the environment. Ant i­

pollution provisions are usually to be found in other enactments al so. These include in particular legislation relating to mining, water con­ servation and irrigation, fisheries, and in some instances legi slati ve provisions with respect to water supply. In a number of States, so me of these incidental provisions in other measures date back to before the turn of the century.

The generall y fragmented nature of the legislation has resulted in much di vision of authority in the field. A wide range of departments, government instrumentalities, local government bodies and oth er organisations are concerned with the control and prevention of wa ter

pollution, Mr L. de Witt Henry, Chief Sewerage Engineer of th e Queensland Department of Local Government, stated that 15 differen t Acts and 18 departments and sub-departments were involved in Queens­ land.1 Dr I. K. Hay, in a submission presented in evidence on behalf of the 1 ew South Wal es Department of Public Health, li sted as bein g concerned in prevention and control 5 departments, 5 State Govern ­

ment in strumentalities and all local government authorities in th e St ate2 - a very large number of organisations indeed. At least another fi ve Gove rnment authorities could be added to the list. R elevant legis­ lation and adminis tering authorities in each State, the Australian Capital

Territory and the Northern Territory, as well as legislation enact ed by th e Commonwe alth itself, are listed in Appendix III. Partl y be­ cause of the rapidl y changing scene, especially during the latter stages of this Committee's inquiry, these lists should be regarded as not necessaril y comprehensive. Their purpose is to illustrate the range of

legisl ation and the multiplicity of bodies involved.


In the States, one finds that a great range of legislation and

administrative bodies is concerned with water pollution. In the first place, a very great number of local government bodies become directly involved and this fact alone introduces many complications in the relationships that are important in efforts to control and minimise water pollution.

Mr R . J. Prickett, a qualified water supply and sewerage engineer with a Master's Degree in Engineering Science (Public Health Engineer­ ing), who presented evidence in Darwin in a private capacity, gave the Committee the benefit of his very great interest in and study of the problems of water quality control. In 1967-68, under the auspices of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Mr Prickett studied the public health aspects o£ water and waste-water treatment, and under­ took a specialist training programme with the Federal Water Pollution

Control Administration during a stay of 12 months in the United States of America. As part of these studies, he produced in September 1968 a report entitled 'The Establishment of a Water Quality Control Programme for Australia'. In the course of his evidence he urged on th e Committee the importance of the adoption in each State of compre­

hensive water pollution legislation drawing together all the major provisions on the subject into one measure in each State, after the pattern that had been adopted in the United States. He considered that it was important that in each State there should be a common authority to undertake co-ordination with any Federal body that might exist.3

New South Wales In New South Wales, legislative control of water pollution is affected by at least 30 Acts. Some of the most significan t ones are the Public Health Act, the Noxious Trades Act, the Local Government Act, the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Act, the Maritime Ser­

vices Act, the Prevention of Oil Pollution in Navigable Waters Act and the Water Act.

Section 14 of the Public Health Act, for example, empowers the Board of Health and its officers to inspect water and sewerage works and requires the servants of water supply authorities to assist the Board in its investigations. The same section authorises the

Board to make recommendations to the Minister for Public Works concerning any action that it believes should be taken by any water supply or sewerage authority, including a local government authority, by the exercise of the powers of that authority under any Act dealing with water supply and sewerage, to remove or diminish any danger to health arising from water pollution. 4 Under the Noxious Trades Act, the Department of Public Health administers regulations relating to the disposal of noxious wastes into waterways.


29 1

The Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission derives it powers related to water pollution from the Water Act, and from regu ­ lations made under Part II of that Act. Mr W. J. Youll, Chief Engi­ neer, Operations and Water Rights, in evidence informed the Commit­

tee that the Commission, in exercising its statutory powers in relation to water pollution, was not directly concerned with the aspect of th e examination of the quality of water for different uses, but was con­ cerned with the causes and effects of pollution and methods for its

prevention and control. 5 Under the same Act, by amendments made in 1966, the Commission is given certain powers in relation to the control of pollution of underground waters. The effect is to put sub-surface waters and surface waters on a similar footing, and to invest in the Commission for the benefit of the Crown the right to the use, the flow

and th e control of such waters. 6 The powers over underground water ex tend to boring and drilling operations also.

Under the Local Government Act, the Minister for Public Works is responsible for approving or rejecting any municipal sewage di sposal programme. The Department of Public Works, however, bas no con­ trol over the pollution of streams except by direct discharge from a municipal sewerage scheme. 7

A witness who appeared before the Committee on behalf of th e ew Sou th Wales Department of Mines raised doubt abou t the effic aC) of the multiplicity of legislative measures.8 An illustration of th e sor t of situation that frequently arises owing to division of authority between numerous bodies was put before the Committee by Mr J. W. Roberts, a farmer with a property near Branxton, in the Hunter Valley. He gave evidence indicating that a stream on his property was polluted by acid washed from dumps of coal at grass.9 Commenting on this situat ion , Professor C. H. Munro, foundation Professor of Civil Engineering at

the Un iversity of New South Wales, a member of the New South Wales Committee of the Australian Water and Wastewater Association, and a member of numerous national committees concerned with water engi­ nee ring, referring to the Hunter Valley basin, said:

The whole of the trouble with the Hunter Valley is that there are 19 or 20 diffe rent authorities mixed up and none of them has the single responsibility. the buck is passed from one to the other.

There should be one authority responsible for everything to do with wa ter. If you had a valley authority in Mr Roberts' area his problem would have been solved by that authority by now. 10

Mr D. K. B. Thistlethwayte, Research Consultant in Public Health Engineering at the University of New South Wales, and Chief Chemist (Research) of the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, Sydney, who appeared before the Committee with Professor Munro,

drew an illustration from the experience in the United Kingdom. He told the Committee that because of failure, over some 100 years, by the London County Council, which controlled water supply and sewerage, and the London port authority, which was responsible for


the control of pollution, to form a co-operative working arrangement, water pollution control had suffered very badly.U Representatives of the New South Wales Oyster Farmers Association gave evidence of the effects of divided authority on oyster fisheries. They pointed out that the fisheries authorities concerned themselves with pollution only if it killed or endangered oysters, but were not interested in it as a health hazard. This aspect was regarded as the concern only of the Department of Public Health. 12

A stringent comment on the conflict of interest and lack of co-ordina­ tion between the diverse authorities involved under the fragmented legislative approach was made by Mr M. K. Dunphy, who gave evidence on behalf of the Colong Committee, a body which was opposed to proposals to mine limestone in the Colong Caves Public Reserve. Mr Dunphy, speaking also as Secretary of the National Parks Association of New South Wales, made the following observations in evidence

before the Committee: I do not think the Government has gone fully into this matter. The Water Board has been coerced into agreeing to a policy somersault in catchment protection. The National Parks and Wildlife Service was shouldered to one side. Even though the lease will be within a national park they have been unable to suggest any real measure and to have it incorporated in the lease conditions. They are not allowed to super­ vise any of the conditions. The Soil Conservation Service was not con­ sulted in setting the conditions. The Department of Mines seems to have been supreme. This illustrates the strength of the mining legis­ lation. It is a prime example of the complete lack of co-ordination of all our authorities in the general public interest. Each is maintaining its strict line of ribbon development and the general public interest is

being ignored.1a

When questioned by a member of the Committee, two witnesses who appeared on behalf of the Maritime Services Board agreed with the proposition that the situation of Sydney Harbour, the bottom of which had been described earlier by an independent witness as a marine desert, highlighted the fact that one of the problems with respect to the control of water poll ution was that no one authority had responsibility for looking at the whole problem. One of these two witnesses further agreed that it seemed a reasonable corollary to sup­ pose that the problem was not likely to be overcome until the whole issue was regarded as a single entity by some one authority. 14

The Botany sand beds were submitted to the Committee as an example of a situation in which division of authority among up to 10 bodies concerned with pollution of underground water supplies had led to ineffective control.15

Mr Youll stated that control over ri vers was divided between the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission and the Maritime Services Board, the dividing line being the limit of tidal influence.




The Department of Public Works also was involved in the control of streams in their tidal reaches. 16 Mr Youll confirmed that the Com­ mission was on record as being of the opinion that an overriding authority to be responsible for the control of water pollution would be desirable. 17

Reference to the legislative and administrative situation in New South Wales would not be complete without mention of the Water Pollution Bill 1969, which was introduced into the New South Wales Parliament in the autumn session of last year and allowed to lie on

the table of the Legislative Assembly so that its provisions might be considered by all interested persons and bodies before they became law. As a result of the representations and suggestions received after consideration of the measure by those interested, the legislation has

now been redrafted, and this Committee understands that a ne w Bill is to be introduced in the next session of the State Parliament which will probably begin in August of this year. The 1969 Bill contained provision for the establishment of a Water

Pollution Advisory Committee to make recommendations to th e Minis­ ter for Health and the Under Secretary of the Department of Publ ic Health, and for a Classification of Waters Appeals Board, the fun ction of which would be to consider and determine objections to classificati on s

of waters made under the terms of the measure. Provision was made also for penalties ranging up to $2,000 for the offence of knowin gly polluting waters and for further penalties not exceeding $1 ,000 a day for a cdntinuing offence. The terms of the redrafted Bill will not be known until after the presentation of this Committee's report but th e

provisions outlined above have been of major interest to the Com­ mittee and have been duly considered by it. One feature which it seems to this Committee is not in keeping with the current trend over­ seas is that, so far as is known, the legislation will be administered

by the health authorities.

Public authorities in Victoria that are concerned with control of water pollution operate under a number of different Acts, including the Water Act, the Sewerage Districts Act, the Health Act, the Ri ver Improvement Act, the Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act, the

Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Act, and also other Acts which in particular areas provide for the establishment of a local authority such as the Geelong Waterworks and Sewerage Trust. The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria, in the

submission presented on its behalf in evidence, said that wat:r pollution control was mentioned in 13 Victorian Acts.l8 Even this understates the number somewhat, as will be seen by reference to Appendix III. The submission referred also to what was described as

the hopeless inadequacy of the maximum penalty of $40 that may be


imposed by local river improvement trusts and drainage trusts under the terms of the River Improvement Act.19 The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, like other statu­ tory authorities such as the Dandenong Valley Authority, has no power to limit the discharge of polluted waste into municipal drains that discharge into its works. 20 The Water Act confers on water supply authorities powers to limit or prevent the pollution of their works. The principal legislative provision for the reduction or elimination of pollu­ tion of natural watercourses is made in the Health Act, but streams such as the Latrobe and Barwon rivers have been placed under the control of their own statutory authorities and the relevant provisions of

the Health Act do not apply to them. The Stream Pollution Regulations, made in 1943 under the Health Act, provide for the control of pollu­ tion of streams. These lay down certain standards for trade wastes and the discharge of sewage. These standards however are based on the General Standard set by the British Royal Commission on Sewerage Disposal (1901-15). The Committee was informed that in applying this General Standard, the R egulations do not take into account dilution, which is most important in a country like Australia where many streams cease to flow in prolonged droughts and even in dry weather.

The Stream Pollution Regulations specifically exclude streams in the Melbourne metropolitan area. These are placed under the jurisdiction of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works which, under its by-laws, does not lay down specific standards.21 In the metropolitan area, the only powers of local councils relating to the discharge of liquid wastes into creeks and streams are minor, and these powers stem from the nuisance provisions of the Health Act. 22

No water supply authority in Victoria is under a statutory require­ ment to supply water of any particular quality. The function of a water supply authority is to develop the most satisfactory source available having regard to the uses fo r which it is intended and the economics of development and supply. 2a

The Fisheries Act 1968, for the first time in the law of Victoria, imposed a real restraint on the addition of undesirable materials to Bass Strait and empowered the Minister in charge of fisheries to serve on an industry notice that it must meet certain requirements.24

A particularly interesting feature of the legislative situation in Vic­ toria is the Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act 1958. The Land Utilisation Advisory Council established under Division 2, Part IV, of that Act makes recommendations to the Soil Conservation Authority as to the constitution and definition of catchment areas, and advises the responsible Minister and the Authority on policy in respect of the land use in any catchment area. 25 So far as the Com­ mittee is aware, this kind of legislation does not exist elsewhere in Australia. Indeed, Mr R. G. Downes, Chairman of the Soil Conserva­ tion Authority, said that he knew of no similar legislation

anywhere else in the world. 26



The fragmented nature of legislation and the numerous Acts, regu­ lations and by-laws which lay down the powers to be exercised by a wide range of bodies have brought about in Victoria, as in New South Wales, a division of authority between a large number of separate instrumentalities each of which has some responsibility in the control of water pollution. The State Rivers and Water Supply Commissio n,

in its submission, made the following observations: Water pollution control is mentioned in 13 Victorian Acts. A large number of separate authorities has some responsibility as to control, but there is not a high degree of co-ordination with regard to accept­ able standards for discharge into State waters and to the policing of such discharges. 21

Mr A. Dunbavin Butcher, Director of Fisheries and Wi ldli fe for Victoria, in a most valuable contribution to the evidence placed before the Committee, also referred to the considerable number of authoriti es which have responsibility in this field, putting the to tal num ber at

thirteen. 28 One of th e most telling of his comments was made in these terms: Arrangements to deal with pollution in Victoria have grown on a piecemeal basis with organisations developing programmes and legisla­

tion when problems become evident or critical. It is thus not surp ris­ ing that in the present situation pollution control leaves much to be desired, with responsibilities widely separated among go vernment agencies. Not only does this create difficulties in implementing rational

controls, it also frustrates the good intentions of industry and its desire to assist in pollution abatem ent. 2 9 The Geelong Waterworks and Sewerage Trust, as the body respon­ sible for water supply for the city of Geelong, which is obtained from the Barwon River, contended that too many authorities were respon­

sible for the detection and control of pollution in the ri ver above Geelong and that a single authority should be made responsibl e for preserving the water supplies of the whole of the Barwon River region and for developing those supplies to 'the best advantage of the whole

area. The Trust stated, furthermore, that any such authority should have more cohesive overall powers than any single organisation has at present to administer the Stream Pollution Regulations. About ten authorities were said to be responsible for the control of the Barwon


Queensland The position with respect to legislation in Queensland was greatl y clarified for the Committee by the evidence and exhibits presented by Mr Henry, Chief Sewerage Engineer of the Queensland Department of Local Government.a1 He made these general comments:

The current legislation concerning water pollution in Queensland is largely of a general nature prohibiting pollution and providing for


penalties after the pollution has occurred. There are difficulties in en­ forcing the legislation largely because 'pollution' has never been satis­ factorily defined and because of the fragmentary nature of the legisla­ tion. Of all the legislation, that under the Health Act appears to offer the best opportunity for measures to control pollution.

The Health Act gives the Director-General of Health wide and posi­ tive powers for dealing with pollution as it affects health. With respect to sewerage and stormwater drainage systems under the control of a local authority, the Director-General may specify remedial measures

and step in and do the required work at the expense of the local authority. Trade wastes, however, are not subject to quite such positive powers on the part of the Director-General, though he may negotiate and enter into an agreement relating to their discharge. An applicant who considers that the conditions set by the Director-General are too restrictive is not prevented from making the discharge at a less accept­ able standard but he may be prosecuted if pollution results. Local authorities also are given certain powers to institute proceedings against any person or another local authority in respect of pollution of any watercourse, and to carry out works to prevent or abate pollution. Section 6 of this Act provides, in effect, that it overrides all other Acts

and that its provisions are not modified by them. The Irrigation and Water Supply Commission Act, in conjunction with the Water Act, gives the Commissioner of Irrigation and Water Supply power to carry out works in any river or watercourse to pre­ vent, abate or remove pollution. Under the Water Act, except for limited riparian rights, the right to the use , flow and control of water in watercourses or underground supplies is vested in the Crown. The Governor-in-Council may issue a permit to discharge sewage effluent. Such a permit indemnifies the holder against claims arising from dis­

charge in accordance with its conditions. However, no procedure is laid down regarding applications for permits or the manner of fixing the terms and conditions of discharge. Though section 18 provides that water areas may be defined and boards constituted for such areas in respect of works including water supply, sewerage and drainage, no sewerage or drainage boards have yet been established. Under Schedules to these two Acts, the Commissioner is given, for areas under his control, powers with respect to water supply, sewerage, drainage and pollution similar to those possessed by a local authority.

The Harbours Act and the Queensland Marine Act contain pro­ visions designed to prevent pollution of harbours and tidal waters. The Fisheries Act makes it an offence to discharge into 'any tidal or inland waters or into any watercourse, whether dry or not, leading into the same any matter deleterious to fish or oyster life

or any filth or refuse'. Mr Henry added the comment, 'This section would appear at first sight to give the Department of Harbours and Marine complete control over pollution except where the wastes are disposed of by evaporation or soakage'.


29 7

Another important measure is the Local Government Act, which gives local authorities power to make by-laws relating to 'health, sani­ tation, cleansing and scavenging, prevention and suppression of infec­ tious and other diseases, sewerage, stormwater drainage, removal,

suppression and abatement of nuisance, noxious and offensive trades, abattoirs, water supply, water conservation, agricultural drainage' and the like. The local authority must ensure that its sewerage sys tem is not a nuisance or injurious to health.

The Mining Act contains provisions aimed at preventing pollution of any watercourse, lake or reservoir, but provides that the Mini ter for Mines may specify circumstances in which pollution shall not be a breach. He may refrain from fixing conditions regarding pollution or

may fix conditions that will only partially prevent pollution wh ere he is of the opinion that it is in the public interest to permit the con­ tinuance of mining operations causing pollution that may be prevented only at excessive cost. It is of interest to note that the Act protec t from pollution water being used in connection with mining.

The Sewerage, Water Supply and Gasfitting Act provides for stan­ dard sewerage by-laws and standard water supply by-laws which have effect in every local authority area and which take precedence over the by-laws of any such local authority. Standards for septic tank

and septic tank effluent are laid down, but no standard is specified for sewage treatment. Mr H enry commented that the standard set for trade effluents discharged to sewers could be misleading in som e respects.

The City of Brisbane Act, which applies to the Brisbane City Council, contains provis ions regarding pollution similar to those in the Local Government Act, but the power given does not limit the application of the Health Act or the Harbours Act.

Mr Henry, referring to the variety of departments and sub-depart­ ments concerned in so me way with water pollution, said:

Probably it is because of this that claims have been made that th e Queensla nd legislation on pollution is fragmentary and confiicting. Bearing in m ind that the provisions of these Acts were introduced at differ ent times and for different purposes, and that the departments which administer th em have different functions and objectives, it would

be strange if each Act co ntained th e same provisions or if all th e pro visions for pollution control were contained in the one Act. 32

It is interesting to compare these comments with those of Mr Dunbavin Butcher, quoted at page 127 of this report. Mr Henry we nt on to say:

It could be claimed prior to July 1966 that there were problems because of this apparen tly fragm entary and confiicting legisla-tion.


It was against this background that, in July 1966, the Premier asked the Co-ordinator-General of Public Works to act in a co-ordinating capacity with regard to problems of river and stream pollution. The Co-ordinator-General delegated the technical aspects o.f the co-ordinating activities to the Department of Local Government. Mr Henry believed that this arrangement provided the means for over­ coming any problems of fragmentation in legislation and of conflict of interest between authorities, though he acknowledged that all the problems had not been

Evidence given on 10 April 1969 by the witness who represented the Brisbane City Council revealed the very strange fact that, until a fortnight before, he had not been aware of the co-ordinating action taken in 1966.34

South Australia The legislative pos1t10n appears to the Committee to be somewhat more cohesive in South Australia than in most of the other States. There are fewer enactments and fewer government departments, instru­ mentalities and other bodies involved in the control and prevention of water pollution. Basically, apart from responsibilities exercised by the Department of Public Health under the Health Act, one other depart­ ment discharges all the major responsibilities relating to water supply, sewerage, drainage and the control of pollution for the metropolitan area and for the rest of the State. In this respect, South Australia is perhaps outstanding and a model for other States to look to.

The main functions are administered by the Engineering and Water Supply Department under the Waterworks Act and the Control of Waters Act. The Waterworks Act gives the Minister of Works, who is ministerial head of the Department, general powers to restrain owners or occupiers of land on watersheds, or adjacent to rivers, from polluting the water supply. The legislation was described by the Department in its submission as curative rather than preventive.s 5 The Control of Waters Act in particular provides for the control of pollution of the Murray River but does not specifically mention saline pollution.s6 However, according to the evidence put before the Committee, salinity of this river and pollution of the Adelaide metropolitan catchment area constitute the two major pollution problems in South Australia.s7

Section 96 of the Health Act gives power to local "Boards of Health, 'whenever the pollution of any water supply becomes or is likely to become injurious to health', to prevent pollution by summary proceed­ ings, with a penalty of up to $20 for a first offence and a double

penalty for each subsequent According to Dr P. S. Woodruff, Director-General of Public Health, the 142 local authorities in the State and the Department of Public Health have concurrent jurisdiction in the administration of this Act. The local authorities have primary responsibility in their own areas, but the Department may act in an


2 9 9

advisory capacity and may step in and act in case of default by the local authorities.39 The Planning and Development Act, the Control of Waters Act, the Soil Conservation Act, the Waterworks Act and the Mining Act all have application to control of the metropolitan catchment area. In a

submission presented in evidence by the Mount Lofty Ranges Associa­ tion, these were described as being ineffective. 40 Since the Committee conducted its hearing in Adelaide, the South Australian Government has modified its policy on land use to permit smaller subdivisions in

watershed towns, but, with minor exceptions, subdivisions outside these towns are still restricted to a minimum of 20 acres. The Mining Act, according to the Association, provided for what were described a

dangerous exemptions from control.41 Mr H. J. N. Hodgson, a former Assistant Director of the Engineer­ ing and Water Supply Department, and a member of the State Board of Health, said that 'the two most serious shortcomings' of th e Sou th Australian legislation were 'the absence of provisions in the Waterworks Act or Regulations made under this Act to permit effective control of

watersheds, either by the Engineering and Water Supply Department or the Department of Public Health, or both' and 'the complete absence of any Regulation under any Act which sets down criteria (or stan ­ dards) of quality for sewage and trade waste effluent and other waste­

water discharges to rivers of all sorts, lakes, coastal waters, etc'. 42

Western Australia The picture of Western Australian legislation built up by the Com -mittee was only sketchy. The relevant law includes a number of Acts, principally the Rights in Water and Irrigation Act, the Land Drainage Act, the Health Act, the Swan River Conservation Act, the

Prevention of Pollution of Waters by Oil Act, the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drainage Act and the Country Towns Sewerage Act. The Rights in Water and Irrigation Act gives the Minister

for Work;s control of artesian waters throughout the State, and we were told that non-artesian waters could be controlled onl y in proclaimed areas north of the 26th parallel of latitude.

Evidence presented to the Committee in Perth in May 1969 indicated that only the Carnarvon, Derby and Pilbara regions had been proclaimed for this purpose. 43 The proclamation has since been extended to the Murray and Capel rivers in the south-west. Section

10 of this Act makes it an offence to pollute a subterranean water source. 44 The powers given to the Swan River Conservation Board under the Swan River Conservation Act are very wide, but are limited to the area that constitutes the Swan River conservation region .45

The Fremantle Port Authority Act gives the Authority jurisdiction over all waters within the Port of Fremantle as defined in the Act. As



so defined, the port includes the inner harbour and the outer harbour -a total area of about 180 square miles, including Cockburn Sound. Under the terms of the regulations made under the Act, power is given to the Authority to deal with pollution by industrial wastes, or by the discharge of ships' garbage, galley refuse, sewage or other offensive matter; pollution resulting from the escape of chemicals and poisons from ships or shore-based installations; and also pollution by oil. In

the event of a spillage of oil, an offender may be prosecuted for a breach under the provisions of the Prevention of Pollution of Waters by Oil Act. 46 Much of the control over pollution generally in Western Australia is exercised under the authority of the Health Act.

Some minor problems related to

So far as the evidence put before the Committee re vealed, there were certainly fewer bodies involved in the control and prevention of water pollution in Western Australia than in the more populous and more highly industrialised States. The impression gained was that in general there was less overlapping of authority and a clearer definition of responsibility. It would therefore seem fair to comment that in this sense Western Australia, like South Australia, may be one of the more fortunate States.

Tasmania The legislative position in Tasmania aroused considerable interest on the part of the Committee and appeared to have a number of undesir­ able features , particularly with respect to special Acts making provision


30 1

for the establishment of several major industries and with respect to provisions in some legislation overriding those in other Acts.

Dr A. D. Ross, Director of Public Health, referred to the segmented controls in Tasmania under the Local Government Act, the Public Health Act, the Water Act, the Waterworks Clauses Act, the Sewers and Drains Act, the Hydro-Electric Commission Act, the Hobart Cor­

poration Act, the Launceston Corporation Act, the Rivers Pollution Act, the Australian Titan Products Act and the Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Act, as well as other enactments.50 He advised the Com­ mittee that though it was an offence under the Rivers Pollution Act to

pollute a waterway, councils themselves knowingly polluted streams, and the Local Government Act, under which they operate, afforded them a defence against proceedings under the Public Health Act on the ground that they were disposing of effluents by the best means within the

circum stances. 51

The Marine Act empowers port authorities to control anything that affects the waters for which they are responsible. Mr J . K. Edwards, Port Manager and Port Engineer, Port of Launceston Authority, gave evidence that his Authority was forced to act against its better judgment,

however, in at times approving stage construction of sewerage treatment plants providing only for primary treatment, though designed for future extension to secondary treatment plants. 52 Evidence was given by Mr C. A. Allen, Town Clerk of the City of Launceston, and by Dr Ross

that an exemption under the Local Government Act overriding the Water Act and permitting the City of Launceston to discharge raw sewage into the Tamar River would expire at the end of 1973."8

Evidence of difficulties experienced by municipalities in financing works was given by Dr Ross, who pointed out that under the Local Government Act a poll of ratepayers was needed before a special rate could be determined to enable a local council to meet the cost of a treat­

ment plant that might be needed to prevent effluents discharged from its sewerage and drainage system from polluting a stream. He also informed the Committee that under the Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Act, the paper mill at Burnie was required to discharge its effluent at a point agreed with the Minister for Forests, and that the agreed point was on a beach immediately in front of the Burnie caravan park. 54

Dr Ross al so stated that the Hobart City Council could be directed to install sewage treatment pl ant, but only to a cost limited to not more than $100,000 in each of 3 successive years. 55

Oddly enough, according to Dr Ross, the Public Health Act provided 'amazing powers to bring down regulations to do things in salt water, but no regulations have been either made or brought down'. 56

Mr J. B. Braithwaite, Senior Mining Engineer and Senior Inspector of Mines and E xplosives, Department of Mines, gave evidence that the , Minin g Act contained power to prevent mines from putting any di s­ charges into streams and th at this was strictly adhered to now, though


not necessarily so in the past. ;; 7 Later in his evidence, be mentioned that the Act provided for the proclamation of a stream as a sludge channel and that a mining company was permitted, after such a proclamation, to dump anything into it. 58 Other evidence given to the Committee cast very grave doubt on the efficacy of any measures taken by the Department of Mines, particularly in relation to the South Esk, Savage and Queen rivers.

Yet another important measure relating to inland waters in Tasmania is the Fisheries Act, which empowers the Inland Fisheries Commission to perform certain functions relating to the protection of fish from pollution.

Mr E . Sikk, an officer of the Solicitor-General's Department, acknow­ ledged that there were numerous provisions in many Acts in Tasmania dealing with the problem of water pollution. 50 The legislative situation in Tasmania has certainly led to a multitude of government instrumen­

talities and other bodies such as local councils becoming involved in water pollution control. The evidence in that State generally revealed a surprising amount of overlapping and conflict of interest. For example, councils were widely acknowledged to be themselves responsible for

polluting streams by the discharge of effluents from sewerage and drainage systems while at the same time they were charged with the responsibility for prosecuting individuals for polluting the same streams.

The Commonwealth The Commonwealth enters into fields bearing on the legislative con-trol of water pollution by reason of enactments such as the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act, the Navigation Act, the Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sea Routes Protection Act, the Seat of Government Acceptance Act and the Pollution of the Sea by Oil Act.

The Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act, which is administered by the Department of National Development, gives the Commonwealth power, inter alia, to prevent interference with fisheries and to require that the resources of the sea and the sea bed be conserved. Regulations relating to these and other matters may be made under section 157 of this Act, but, as yet, none have been made.

The Navigation Act was amended in March of this year specifi­ cally to give the Commonwealth Government power to act to remove a potential hazard such as that presented by the Oceanic Grandeur after it was holed in Torres Strait on 3 March. The amended Act also empowers the Commonwealth to recover, under its own right, costs incurred in taking action to prevent the discharge of oil or to

mitigate the effects of a spillage. In addition, the Navigation (Deck Cargo and Live Stock) Regulations made under the terms of the Navi­ gation Act prohibit the pollution of the waters of any Australian port by the discharge of offensive refuse from a ship carrying livestock.60



The Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sea Routes Protection Act con­ fers on the Department of Shipping and Transport, which administers the Navigation Act also, responsibility for measures to prevent the pollution of beaches, fishing grounds and sea routes. It also prohibits

the discharge from ships of any garbage, rubbish, ashes or organic refuse within any proclaimed area. For the purpose of this provision, the administrative functions are performed by the Department of Health. Mr L. N. Etherton, Acting Assistant Secretary, Marine Ser­ vices Branch, Department of Shipping and Transport, told the Com­ mittee that up to mid-June 1969 the only area that had been pro­

claimed under the section dealing with pollution was one off the coast of New South Wales, just north of Sydney.61

The Seat of Government Acceptance Act ratifies the agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales for the handing over to the Commonwealth of the area known as the Australian Capital Territory. Clause 4 of the agreement, which is embodied in that Act

as the First Schedule, provides that the State shall not pollute, and shall protect from pollution, the waters of the Queanbeyan and Molonglo rivers throughout their whole course above the Territory . Under clause 11 , the surrender of the Territory to the Commonwealth

shall not be deemed to abridge the right of the State or of the residents thereof to the reasonable use of the waters of the Murrumbidgee Ri ver fo r conservation or irrigation.

The Pollution of the Sea by Oil Act gives effect to the Intern ati onal Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1954, as amend ed in 1962. This Act gives the Department of Shipping and Transport power to prevent pollution by the deliberate or careless dis­ charge of oil or oily mixtures into the sea. Mr Etherton informed th e

Committee that further amendments to the Convention were under consid eration at the time when he gave evidence. 62


The evidence relating to the Australian Capital Territory indicated that there was no comprehensive water pollution measure in fo rce in th at Territory. A representative of the Department of the Interior advised the Committee of 11 Territory Ordinances which related directl y or indirectly to the subject of water pollution and which were

administered by that Department.63 The Public Health Ordinance and the Public H ealth (General Sanitation) Regulations relating to sewerage and the disposal of garbage could be included as well.

The Department of the Interior is responsible for most aspects of the administration of the Territory and th is responsibility extends to all matters relating to water, with the exception of the public health


aspects, which are. administered by the Department of Health. Other departments construct and maintain water, sewerage and drainage ser­ vices. The National Capital Development Commission, under the terms oLthe National Capital Development Commission Act, is responsible for the planning, development and construction of Canberra as the National Capital. For these purposes, it is empowered to arrange for the necessary buildings and works for the supply of water and for sewerage and drainage and incidental matters. Once construction has been completed, such works become the responsibility of the Depart­ ment of the Interior, which relies for their operation and maintenance on the professional services of the Department of Works.64

Generally speaking, the degree of co-operation between the depart­ ments and agencies involved with water quality control in the A.C.T. seemed to the Committee to be at a high level. This appears in no small measure to be due to the fact that, compared with the usual situation in the States, relatively few authorities are involved, and there is a single source of finance.

There are, of course, special fac tors in the A.C.T. situation. Because of the absence of industry, other than service and, to a very limited degree, light manufacturing, there is no industrial pollution problem of the kind trbat is so common in the States.


When the Committee took evidence in relation to the Northern Terri­ tory, again it round that there was no specific legislation with respect to water pollution control. A variety of public health regulations contain relevant provisions for health safeguards. The Mining Ordinance and the Regulations made under it place limitations on substances and amounts of substances that may be discharged to streams, but the pro­ visions were described to the Committee as being by no means satis­ factory. The Control of Waters Ordinance prohibits pollution in relation to streams, natural channels and lakes. Both of these Ordinance are administered by the Mines and Water Resources Branch of the Terri­

tory Administration. One of the features speciall y mentioned was that the Control of Waters Ordinance was weakened by the provision that pollution was not prohibited if the act causing it wa s 'authorised under the Northern Territory Mining Act 1903 or some other law in force in the Territory'. The Committee was advised that the two Ordinances mentioned were totally inadequate in this modern age and ought to be studied together, with a view to removing inconsistencies and improving

provisions aimed at the prevention of pollution. 65

Captain B. L. Noble, representing the Northern Territory Port Authority, stated in evidence that the Authority's powers fo r the control of water pollution were limited and that the only rele vant Ordinance



with specific provisiOn relating to water pollution was the Prevention of Pollution of Waters by Oil Ordinance.66 This dealt strictly with oil and mixtures containing oil. It lacked any provision equivalent to that made in the Regulations administered by the Maritime Service s

Board of New South Wales , for example, whioh went so far as to defin e the permissible concentrations of various substances and effluents, and even prescribed details of relevant methods of testing. The Committee was informed that there was a definite need for an Ordinance to control

both chemical and bacteriological pollution and to prescribe a proper controlling authority and make provision for enforcement.67

With respect to industrial pollution1 there appears to be more of a problem, actual and potential, in the Northern Territory than exists in the Australian Capital Territory. Dr W. A. Langsford, Common­ wealth Director of Health for the Northern Territory, decl ared that th e existing legislation was not adequate, especially with respect to the con ­

trol of industrial pollution, and should be improved. 68 The number ot different authorities concerned with pollution in the Northern Terri tory, as in the A.C.T., is small compared with the number of instrumentalities involved in the States. Therefore, the problems of conflict of intere t

an d of divided authority tend to be less marked than th e Committee found them to be in most of the States.

Generally speaking, we we re told , control of water pollution in th e Northern Territory was the responsibility of the Mines and Water Resources Branch of the Territory Administration. Powe r was given primarily under th e Control of Waters Ordinance.69 However, other departments and instrumentalities were involved, notabl y the Depart­ ment of Health, the Northern Territory Port Authority, and the Depart­

ment of Works, which was used by the responsible departments and branches as a construction, maintenance and planning authority. The Local Government and Community Services Branch and the Animal Industry and Agriculture Branch also were involved in some respects.

The evidence given by Dr Langsford was to the effect th at in th e some­ what smaller community of the Northern Territory, necess ary co-opera­ tion to deal wi th situations as they arose was characteristically ach ieved without difficulty because of th e acquaintanceship and close personal

relations between the officer s involved in the various departments and branch of the Administration. 7o


The Committee confined its activities to the Australian mainland , including the States, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, as it considered that these constituted the critical areas for investigation. This does not mean that other Commonwealth Territories, more particularly the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, should be excluded from any consideration of matters arising from this report.


Fragmentation of Legislation and Multiplicity of Bodies

The picture of State and Territory legislation built up during the Committee's investigations has been, by and large, one of a remarkable lack of cohesion bordering on the chaotic. Every level of government is involved and there are overlapping authorities and powers at each level, sometimes causing instrumentalities to come into direct conflict with one another, as was indicated in evidence by Mr D. G. Schaffner, Engineering Member, Rivers and Water Supply Commission, Tas­ mania. il Authorities in some States seemed to be fairly well aware of the fragmented nature of their legislation, whereas in other States little regard seemed to have been given to this situation.

The Committee believes that some general comment on this aspect is warranted. In the first place, considerable problems were posed h, attempting the task of obtaining an understanding of the legislation in each State and Territory. Even at this stage, it is not possible to say for certain that there are no gaps in the picture. The evidence presented to the Committee by witnesses in general, both in States and in Terri­ tories, failed to delineate the legislative situation thoroughly. Perhaps, up to the present, no thoroughgoing and cohesive compilation of all State legislation relating to water pollution and water quality control in any State has been attempted by State authorities.

The Committee considers that this perhaps demonstrates in a prac­ tical way the fragmentary and complex nature of legislation on the subject of water pollution and water quality control throughout Aus­ tralia. This situation no doubt results to a large degree from the develop­ ment of most of th e existing legislation in piecemeal fashion over a long period, some of it dating back some years before the turn of the century.

The Queensland Littoral Society, in its submission presented to the Committee in evidence, stated that the existing legislation was usually framed to- give maximum encouragement to industry and had little regard for the long-term destructive effects of industrial wastes. The submission went on to say that when much of the present pollution control legislation was conceived, employment, food , housing and the like were issues of major social importance, and the maintenance of the quality of our environment was regarded as of minor importance. Today, the situation has changed: the material necessities of life are

readily avail able and our citizens now require a favourable environment in which to enjoy th e fruits of modern technology. 72

Mr Henry voiced the definite opinion that in Queensland effective control was practicable under existing legislation. Nevertheless, it appears to th e Committee that in each State a thorough review of all present legislation on the subject is called for, and we hope that the responsible authorities will see fit to undertake such a task with the minimum of delay. Indeed, the signs are hopeful. It now appears that the inatter is receivin g some attention in one way or another in all States, in conjunction with a variety of proposals related to the quality


Limitations and Difficulties of Control under Existing



of the environment generally or to water pollution problems in particular.

Evidence given to the Committee in various States gave the impression not only that there was a multiplicity of legislative measures and of authorities responsible for the administration of the legislation, but al so that, in many instances, there was a marked lack of enthusiasm

in enforcing the powers to abate pollution.

Furthermore, it was noted that in a number of instances government in strumentalities were exempted from provisions of the law applying to the people at large. This Committee believes that such exemptions are unwise in the long run.

Another fe ature observed in a number of States was the legislati ve protection afford ed specifically to mining interests, certain industrial establishments, and plants treating minerals, in the disposal of wastes in locations prescribed by legislation apparently with little regard to

potentially harmful effects on the environment. We consider that the justification for thi s freedom in waste disposal afforded to some must be seriously questioned. On a number of occasions, the Committee was told--even by rep re­ sentatives of State authorities-that the existing State legislation should

be redrafted and consolidated into one Act and that overall responsi­ bility for supervisin g and enforcin g water pollution control measures should be vested in one central authority in the State.

The involvem ent of local authorities in water pollution control measures was put to the Committee time and again in evidence as a cause of problems. By reason of the large number of local authorities, the problem of co-ordination is formidable. It was said that the attitudes

and policies of councils va ried widely and that such variations frequentl y fru strated the effo rts of th e State authorities to achieve co-operation in effec tive programmes. Were the councils dealing with , say, one ce ntral State authority, the prospects of cohesive and co-ordinated

effort wo uld doubtless be very much improved.

With respect to the involvement of local councils in the task of water pollu tio n control, it is worth recalling th at the Committee was told by Mr J . Mell ors, Senior Health Inspector of the Altona City Council, in Victori a, that the divided control under current State legislation hampered his Council in attempts at enforcement of its requirements for th e di scharge of effluent. He said that the offending party could cl aim

that it had complied with the regulations of the Melbourne and Metro­ pol itan Board of Works and thereby avoid prosecution, even though the Co uncil rega rded the discha rge as a nuisance.73

Another point made a number of times in the evidence was that local authorities were very much subject to local pressures. The Committee


was advised that if the principal local polluter produced a large amount of the council's revenue or provided the major source of employment and income in a locality, the local council, somewhat naturally, was reluctant to take action against it for causing pollution. It was con­ sidered that some central authority could ensure the effective use of enforcement powers. The Committee was told a number of times of instances in which one government authority refused to oppose another that was not enforcing the measures necessary to counter pollution. Again, this was regarded as a reason for a central State authority.

A further problem raised was the absence of common policies under the existing legislative arrangements. Such policies, it was suggested, should apply to water quality standards, standards for effluent dis­ charge, the reclamation and re-use of waste water, and the like. It wa s emphasised on many occasions that the problems might be solved on a regional basis within the ambit of these common policies.

Another feature of the existing situation that was emphasised in the evidence from time to time was the lack of exchange of information between the great number of bodies concerned with the control of water pollution. This, the Committee was told, led to a good deal of uncertainty about where the powers of one body ended and those of another began. In a number of instances, there were doubtful areas in which the exact legal position had never been determined.

With a multiplicity of authorities involved, difficulties arise also over the interpretation of 'pollution' itself and of related terms, as was pointed out by Mr I. G. Inglis, Chairman of the Rivers and Water Supply Commission in Tasmania. 74

Undoubtedly, effective water pollution control by the proper treat­ ment of waste water, sewage effluents and trade wastes is very costly. Financial considerations clearly have bad much to do with the types of situations that have developed in many parts of Australia. The pollution of the Sydney beaches, for example, according to the evidence received by the Committee, appears to be rectifiable by present tech­ nology if expenditure on a sufficiently large scale can be contemplated. Members of this Committee believe, as do very many other Australians,

that this sort of situation should not have been allowed to develop if the available technology would have enabled the prevention of such pollution problems. However, it must be recognised that there are many competing demands for the funds available to a State and th at extremely costly works and procedures cannot be put in hand without

due regard for the overall needs. The Committee is sympathetic to the States in their problems of allocating priorities for the expenditure of the available moneys. The multiplicity of bodies concerned with water pollution doubtless has led to some lowering of the priority accorded to water pollution control measures. Where no overall body has been charged with responsibility in this field, the weight attached to the importance of water pollution control almost inevitably would have



Developments in the States

3 0

counted for less in the determination of priorities for the allocation of funds than otherwise would have been the case.

The Governments of New South Wales and Victoria have alrcatl y introduced comprehensive water pollution legislation. The New South Wales measure was withdrawn for redrafting, and the Victorian one lapsed when leave to consider it in the Legislative Council was refused.

The Victorian Government even proposes to extend its plans and to attack all forms of environmental pollution by constituting a single authority for the purpose. The New South Wales Government has also announced special and immediate proposals to deal with the very serious

problem of pollution of the Sydney beaches and the adjacent waters, and has recently had an overseas expert investigating the disposal of solid wastes. A new legi sl ative approach has already been foreshadowed in Tas­

mania, where preparatory studies are being made by a Cabinet sub­ committee. These, the Committee understands, will lead to the introduction of a comprehensive water pollution measure in the next session of the State Parliament. In addition, the Oil Pollution Bill 1970

has just been introduced especially to deal with oil sp ilJ ages from shipping in harbours. In Queensland, the Department of the Co-ordinator-General of Public Works, as co-ordinating authority in all measures against wa ter

pollution, is now investigating proposals for the form ation of an environmental council or committee to advise the Government on measures needed to protect the environment. Whether or not legisla­ tion eventuates from these proposals-and the Committee believes that

suitable legislation would be invaluable-it is hoped th at worth wh ile results will follow. The Western Australian Government has announced proposals to establish this year a Ministry of Conservation which will deal with air

and water pollution. A preliminary survey, to be followed by a report to the State Cabinet, is now under way. The expressed aim is to co-ordinate the efforts of a number of Ministers, departments and authorities and to provide adequate safeguards against both air and

water pollution. In South Australia, the Government, on 23 February 1970, appointed the Committee on Environment in South Australia to inquire into and report on all aspects of pollution in that State, and all matters and

things associated therewith , and to submit to the State Government recommendations for any action considered necessary to retain, restore or change the environment so that the life of the community is improved and not impaired.

State Governments, therefore, appear to be making an attack on environmental pollution one of the higher priorities for 1970. The


Committee the accelerating concern throughout Australia demonstrated by pending or prospective legislation in most States. This activity among the States demands an immediate and appropriate response by the Commonwealth to enable it to participate in a

co-ordinated approach to a national solution. Failure to act in co-ordi­ nation must inevitably impede a successful outcome, the prospects for which could never be more propitious than now, when both Federal and State programmes of action are in the formative stage. If we in Australia can prevent deterioration of the quality of the environment tl) the serious degree experienced in many other countries, notably the United States of America and the highly industrialised nations of Europe, we shall have reason to be highly gratified. This objective is certainly worthy of a major effort by the entire nation, and the Com­

mittee is pleased to note that the State Governments are well to the fore in this effort.

The Constitutional The Committee has been presented with problems and possible solu-Position of the tions necessarily involving consideration of the distribution of consti­ Commonwealth tutional power. In formulating its recommendations the Committee has recognised

the following general principles: 1. That recommendations should be made .for desirable Common­ wealth action within the areas that are fully and indisputably within Commonwealth power and responsibility. These include the

creation of the necessary administrative authority, the provision of finance, and the determination of policy, within the ambit of a national policy, for the Commonwealth Territories and within the other areas under Commonwealth jurisdiction. 2. That evidence presented to the Committee tended to establish

firmly that the Commonwealth has, through a coalescence of Commonwealth power in the fields of taxation, defence, external affairs, meteorology, fisheries , quarantine, and other fields, sufficient legislative competence to lay down and enforce a national

approach through Commonwealth legislation alone.


However, notwithstanding this, the Committee believes that, bearing in mind the Federal concept of the Constitution, it is preferable to attempt to achieve the national approach through the system of concurrent, parallel or complementary Federal and State legislation.

There are further areas of the implementation of the national approach which do not require such legislation and in which the Commonwealth may provide services to the Commonwealth juris­ dictional administration, to the States, to local government and to industry. Such services include research, educational and training facilities and special grants or loans.

3 1 I

3. That recommendations be made for the creation of a national body to focus and implement a national approach, bearing in mind the above-mentioned principles.

References 1. Evidence, p. 1822 2. Evidence, pp. 1567-8 3. Evidence, pp. 3852-3 4. Evidence, p . 1576 5. Evidence, p. 4746 6. Evidence, p. 4752 7. Evidence, p. 1407 8. Evidence, pp. 4719 and 4728

9. Evidence, pp. 1545-62 10. Evidence, p. 1610 11. Evidence, p. 1617 12. Evidence, p. 1676

13. Evidence, p. 4535 14. Evidence, p. 4703 15. Evidence, p. 4726 16. E vidence, p. 4760

17. Evidence, p. 4764 18. Evidence, p. 745 19. Ibid. 20. Evidence, p . 746 21. Evidence, pp. 1297-8 and 3485 22 . Evidence, pp. 1308-9 23. Evidence, p. 755 24. Evidence, p. 837 25. Evidence, p. 1272 26. Evidence, p. 1278 27. Evidence, p. 745 28. Evidence, pp. 838 and 851 29. Evidence, p. 843 30. Evidence, pp. 3653-4 31. This section is based on 'Some Aspects of Water Pollution in Relation to

Queensland' (Exhibit 7) . 32. Evidence, pp. 1822-3 33. Evidence, p. 1823 34. Evidence, p. 2094 35. Evidence, p. 299 36. E vidence, p . 307

37. Evidence, p. 296 38. Evidence, p. 345 39. Evidence, p. 353 40. Evidence, p. 520 41. Ib id .

42. Evidence, p. 666 43 . E vidence, p. 2785 44. E vidence, p. 2606 45. Evidence, p. 2791 46. Evidence, pp. 2500-1 47. Evidence, p. 2646 48. Committee D ocument 31 , p. 11 49. E vidence, p. 2691 50. Evidence, p. 3266 51. Evidence, pp. 3269 and 3272 52. Evidence, p. 3042 53 . Evidence, pp. 3148 and 3264 54. Evidence, p. 3263


55. Evidence, p. 3264 56. Evidence, p. 3291 57. Evidence, p. 3305 58. Evidence, p. 3309

59. Evidence, p. 3393 60. Evidence, p. 3520 61. Evidence, pp. 3519-20 62. E vidence, p. 3513 63. Evidence, p. 102 64. Evidence, p. 90 65. E vidence, p. 3920 66. Evidence, p. 3967 67. E vidence, pp. 3920-1 68. Evidence, p. 3994 69. El"idence, p. 3920 70. Evidence, p. 3993 71. Evidence, p. 3206 72. E vidence, p. 1917 73 . Evidence, p. 1318 74. Evidence, p. 3187


The Relevance of Experience in other Countries


8 Guidelines from Overseas

The work of this Committee has been directed primarily to assessing the situation in respect of water pollution over the Australian continent and collating the facts as a starting point for legislative and administra­ tive action by the appropriate instrumentalities. But the increasing aware­ ne ss of dangers to the environment within Australia can hardly be acknowledged and considered without reference to other countries. Clearly, water pollution, as an aspect of the total environment, is

arousing ever-growing concern over almost the entire face of the globe.

The legislative and administrative responses in other countries where water pollution bas become much more serious than it is so far in Australia have been of much interest to this Committee. A good deal of documentary material bas been obtained from overseas and con­ sidered in the preparation of this report. Though differences of degree and emphasis exist, we believe that important overseas developments ought to be studied and, where possible, related to Australia's special circumstances. There are lessons for Australia to learn from what has

happened in other countries.

The United States In the last 50 years, the United States has changed from a pre-of America dominantly rural nation to an urban one, with some 75 per cent of the population living in urban areas. The Americans have recognised that there is no single national water pollution problem as such. The many

varied problems-local and regional, and State-make up an overall problem of national dimension, scope and concern. It is acknowledged that a large part of the trouble stems from past neglect, that not enough research was done to develop an adequate technology to deal with new

problems as they arose, and that not enough sewage and industrial was te treatment facilities were provided.

Howe ve r, the belated recognition by Americans of the severity of the pollution of their waterways bas led to the adoption of laws designed to clean up and prevent pollution, and with strict enforcement of these measures , conditions in many large river systems have somewhat im proved .

It has been estimated th at up to $14,000 million a year will have to be spent over the next 12 years to overcome all forms of water pollution in the United States, but only recently have there been indications that Federal and State authorities are prepared to spend this sort of money .

The first specific Federal water pollution legislation was the Water Pollution Control Act passed in 1948, to operate for 5 years, which was des igned to provide experience in determining what the proper Federal role should be. Subsequently, this measure was extended twice to 1956.


It provided, inter alia, for the adoption of comprehensive pollution control programmes for interstate waters and their tributaries, technical assistance, direct research and financial grants to support and encourage research by other authorities.

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, enacted in 1956 as per­ manent legislation, with the strong support of national conservation organisations, Congress leadership and a number of State water pollution control administrators and others, for the first time previded for a pro­ gramme comprehensive not only in scope but also in its definition of the Federal role. It extended and improved the provisions of the 1948 Act and greatly strengthened support for the Federal legislation by authoris­ ing grants to any State, interstate or inter-municipal agency, or muni­ cipality, to help meet the cost of constructing necessary waste treatment facilities, and gave the Federal Administration authority to collect and disseminate basic water quality data and establish a Federal regulatory

authority that was enforceable.

The Federal role was further defined and strengthened by amend­ ment of the Act in 1961. The Water Quality Act of 1965, which again amended the basic Act, was acclaimed as landmark legislation because it laid down for the first time the Federal principle of establishing water

quality criteria and a plan for their enforcement for all interstate and coastal waters. The States were given the first opportunity to set water quality standards and these, if approved by the Secretary for the Interior, became thereafter the appUcable standards. If a State did not set standards, or the standards set were not approved, the Secretary was

authorised to set the standards in accordance with procedures set out in the Act. This centralised approach, without participation by the States, did not work very well and it was soon realised that, because of the many regional variations, States should set their own standards, though under strict Federal guidance.

The 1965 Act also established the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration, increased the level of grants permitted, extended the enforcement jurisdiction and expanded the research and development programme. The Clean Water Restoration Act of 1966 advanced a further stage with new authorisation for construction grants with the object of promoting the water quality standards required under the 1965

Act. All projects were made eligible for a full 30 per cent Federal grant, with provision for an increase in the Federal grant to as much as 55 per cent subject to certain requirements relating to matching State grants and the establishment of enforceable water quaUty standards for

waters into which effluent was discharged. It was expected that majority compliance with water quality standards could be achieved over 5 years, and appropriations totalling $3,550 million over this period were authorised. In addition, the limit for programme grants directed to States was doubled to a total of $10 million annually, and the Federal responsibilities in research and development were further extended. This


:legislation also provided for the removal of the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration from the control of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to the Department of the Interior. It has been said that the 1965 amendments provided the tools-particularly water

quality standards-for a comprehensive national attack on water pol­ lution and that the 1966 amendments authorised provision of the resources for getting the job done.

It should be emphasised that the Federal programme is only part of · the total national programme. Much of the Federal participation is directed towards financial and technical support of others. The solution of this problem of national scope and concern is sought on a national

basis through a co-operative sharing of responsibilities.

The State authorities have primary responsibility for water pollution control. They set quality standards for water under their jurisdicti on, and apply and enforce their own laws and regulations. They conduct surveys and investigations, collect and evaluate data, determine waste

treatment requirements, provide technical assistance and training for local authorities and industry and undertake research, much of it fundamental.

Local authorities construct, operate and maintain municipal was te treatment works, conduct surveys and collect data, provide technical assistance and consultation for industry, and enforce their own regulations and ordinances.

Industries are responsible for dealing with pollution from their own effluents. They reduce waste within their own plants and construct and operate waste treatment works when discharges are separate from those of municipalities. They conduct or support research to develop or improve waste treatment methods and to reduce waste production

through process changes. Universities conduct research, provide techni­ cal services and consultation, and train engineering and scientific staff.

The Federal Government plays a role of leadership in the national programme, and supplements and supports the programmes of others. It conducts extensive research and investigations, collects and analyses data on a nation-wide basis and provides technical assistance.

Coupled with a tax relief Bill passed late in 1969 was a provision making State Governments the final arbiters in the establishment of water and air quality standards. The Federal Government, which had gained strong powers as a result of the 1966 Act, would, it was stated, simply act as counsel. This Bill provided for tax credits to industry for

money spent on pollution control. Claiming that industry was solely res ponsible for its abuse of the environment, some conservationists and many members of Congress bad opposed the idea of tax relief. Tt is doubtful wh ether some of the less profitable industries could afford th e

effort without substantial help from the taxpayers, who therefore are paying a great part of the bill for anti-pollution measures now being


taken by industry. This legislation provides for the writing off over 5 years of capital expenditure on anti-pollution facilities, compared with a 40 per cent rate of depreciation allowed for normal capital expendi­ ture. At least for the time being, the Federal Government appears to

be abandoning its efforts to create a centralised authority over anti­ pollution measures and is confining its activities to the framing of national guidelines for standards to be set by the States. It does, how­ continue to play a strong role, especially in relation to research,

and it maintains a number of laboratories to undertake research into water pollution.

Throughout the country, the responses of the States have varied a great deal. Major efforts have been made in, for example, the States of New York and California whereas, in southern States particularly, water pollution agencies are still sometimes ineffective branches of th e State health departments. The performance of local authorities varies similarly. The records of some of the larger and moderately sized cities compare favourably with any in the world while others are disgraceful. Shortage of available funds appears to be the greatest single problem, followed next by the lack of proper co-ordination of effort. The varia­ tion in approach and response seems largely to have been due to the considerable differences between the laws of the States, although many States have now included in their laws all or part of the provisions of a model State Water Pollution Act drafted in 1950.

Much of the penetration of Federal authority into the field of water pollution has been based on Federal control of the interstate move­ ment . of traffic-in this case pollutants-as set out in the United States Constitution. Where rivers have crossed borders between States or formed part of State boundaries many interstate agencies have been created but insufficient provision of funds has hindered their effecti ve­ ness and prevented them from fulfilling their potential. Furthermore, the States have been suspicious of Federal motives. The financial barriers are now being removed and the injection of more Federal money into existing agencies will do much to solve the present prob­ lem s in the United States.

· A Cabinet Committee on the Environment was formed in 1961 to act as a co-ordinating agency for various departmental activities affect­ ing the environment.

The latest developments in the United States include the appoint­ ment by President Nixon of a Council on Environmental Quality with res ponsibility for ensuring that all programmes and actions are under­ taken with a careful respect for the needs of environmental quality. This body will be looked to increasingly for new initiatives in the cam­ paign to preserve the quality of the environment generally.

President Nixon's lates t proposals , as outlined in his Message to Congress on 10 February 1970, envisage the enactment of a Clean Waters Act under which $1 ,000 million a year will be allocated fo r


31 7

the next 4 years to meet the full Federal share, on a matching-fund basis, of the estimated capital investment needs of about $10,000 million over a 5-year period for municipal waste treatment plants if the national water quality standards are to be met. The needs for 1975

and subsequent years are to be reassessed in 1973. The figure of $10,000 million is based on a recently completed nation-wide survey of the deficiencies of present facilities, plus projections of additional needs that will have to be developed by then to accommodate the

normal annual increase in the volume of wastes and to replace equip­ ment that can be expected to wear out or become obsolete in the interim. This programme is expected to provide every community that needs it with secondary waste treatment, and also additional treatment

in areas of special need.

In the United States the general practice is for municipal authorities to fund their waste-treatment works by bond issues and the President proposes in addition a new Environmental Financing Authority to en­ sure that every municipality has an opportunity to sell its waste-treat­

ment plant construction bonds and to overcome the difficulties in this direction experienced in recent years. It is hoped that by this means the construction of pollution control facilities will depend not on a community's credit rating but on its waste disposal needs.

To ensure that the new funds are well invested:

1. Special measures will be taken to direct them to areas of greatest need. 2. Federally assis ted treatment plants will be required to meet pre­ scribed design, operation and maintenance standards and to

be operated only by State-certified operators.

3. Municipalities receiving Federal assistance for the construction of plants will be required to impose reasonable fees on users of the facilities in order to meet the costs of treatment.

4. Comprehensive river basin plans will be required at an early date, and the collection of existing data on pollution sources and the development of effiuent inventories will permit pollu­ tion control to be approached on a river system basis.

5. Communities will be encouraged, where fea sible, to co-operate in the construction of large regional treatment facilities to provide economies of scale and to ensure more efficient and thorough waste treatment.

Attention is to be turned also to the particular problem of industrial pollution. The most important proposals involved are these:

I. State-Federal water quality standards will be amended to impose precise effluent requirements on all industrial and municipal so urces , based on a fair allocation of the total capacity of the waterway to absorb the particular kind of waste wi th out becom­

ing polluted.


2. Violation of established efHuent requirements will be considered -sufficient cause for court action.

3. The Secretary of the Interior will be given new legal weapons and will be enabled to proceed more swiftly with enforcement actions.

4. Failure to meet established water quality standards or imple­ mentation schedules will be made subject to court-imposed fines of up to $ 10,000 a day.

5. The Secretary of the Interior will be authorised to seek imme­ diate relief by injunction in emergency situations where severe water pollution threatens health or irreversible damage to water quality.

6. The Federal pollution control programme will be extended to include all naviga ble waters, both interstate and intrastate, all interstate groundwaters, the United States portion of boundary waters, and the waters of the contiguous zone.

7. Federal operating grants to State pollution control enforcement agencies will be tripled from the present $10 million a year to $30 miiiion in 1975 to assist them in meeting the new responsi­ bilities that stricter and expanded enforcement programmes will place upon them.

Canada In Canada, since World War II, increasing urbanisation and the rising standard of living have led to greater demands for water for industrial and domestic purposes and for water-based recreation. This has brought about the exhaustion of readily available water resources for low-cost development.

In general, responsibility over water as a resource has been consti­ tutionally assigned to the Provinces, but exclusive legislative authority has been vested in the Federal Parliament in all matters relating to navigation and shipping, and seacoast and inland fisheries . These areas of Federal authority reflect water use and pollution control


In 1966, under an extensive reorganisation of the responsibilities of Federal departments, five separate units whose work relates particularly to the field of water were brought together to form the Water Research Branch of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. Two sec­

tions of other departments with major responsibilities in pl anning and co-ordination in the area of water and water pollution were transferred to the same Department and further co-ordination and assimil ation have continued to take place. The bringi ng together of these functi ons under

the one Department has given a new focus to their importance and has encouraged an expansion and increase in the scope of th e programmes.


31 9

The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources has been given responsi­ bility for assuming the primary and co-ordinating role in relation to Federal activities in the field of water and water pollution.

Provincial water pollution control agencies in Canada have developed essentially from health departments, particularly the engineering divi­ sions of those departments.

The central Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, as the largest geo­ graphically and the most heavily populated, were those in which prob­ lems associated with water pollution were perhaps felt most urgently.

The pressing need for pollution control was a major factor in the formation of the Ontario Water Resources Commission in 1956 and the transfer to that body of major responsibility for pollution control. Under the Commission's administration, construction of water pollu­

tion control facilities serving both industries and municipalities has been accelerated. The Commission has adopted a comprehensive set of objectives for water quality throughout Ontario. Model by-laws regulating industrial discharges into municipal storm and sanitary

sewers have been prepared by the Commission and made available to the municipalities in the Province with the suggestion that they be adopted. The Commission has power to control industrial waste pollu­ tion in the same way as it controls domestic waste pollutants. It may

compel an industry to provide required ·facilities if none exist, and new industries are required to have plans for waste treatment facilities approved before works are established.

The pattern followed in other Provinces has been somewhat the same as in Ontario. Various water boards or water authorities have been formed in each Province and in some Provinces several separate administrative agencies concerned with water pollution exist. It has

been recognised that their functions and those left with the engineering divisions of the respective health departments must be effectively co­ ordinated. Historically, municipal authorities in Canada have been responsible

for providing systems for the control of pollution. Better planning and economy of scale have been achieved since World War II by the widespread practice of grouping or amalgamating individual municipal units to form larger areas. Before the war, the financial burden of the construction of waste treatment plants fell on individual municipalities,

but during the depression, Federal assistance was provided to stimu­ late programmes. Since the war, industrial and population growth bas intensified pollution problems and brought about a realisation that these are not isolated but must be attacked on a wider basis. As a result, various schemes for the provision of Federal and provincial financial assistance have been developed. These provide for loans and for capital grants for construction.

Amendments to the national Criminal Code introduced in October 1969 make it an indictable offence for any person or company in


Canada to release into any public river, lake or other waterway pollu­ tants that are capable of causing undue harm to the health of other persons. Punishment by imprisonment for up to 2 years is prescribed, and in the case of a company a minimum fine of $10,000.

An amendment to the Navigable Waters Protection Act introduced at the same time places financial responsibility on the owners of a wreck or its cargo to take such measures as are necessary to prevent water pollution from constituting a danger to waterfowl or marine life or impairing the enjoyment of coastal property.

The proposed Canada Water Act, which was announced by the Governor-General in the Speech from the Throne on 23 October 1969, stems from what the Minister responsible for energy and resources de­ scribed as the increasing impatience of the Canadian public at the

failure to develop long-term plans and at the failure of the several levels of government to act in concert. According to the Minister, this Act has been designed to break through the bureaucratic and jurisdictional maze that has up to now frustrated efforts at water pollu­ tion control and the conservation of water.

The highlights of this legislation were described as follows: 1. Together with the Provinces, the Federal Government would designate as a water quality management area any body of water where there was significant national interest. 2. Pollution of waters in such designated areas would be punish­

able by a fine of up to $5,000 for each offence. Each day this pollution continued it would be regarded as a separate offence. 3. Together with the Provinces, or alone if necessary on inter­ jurisdictional waters, the Federal Government would launch

water quality management programmes in designated problem areas. These programmes would be administered by agencies that would recommend objectives of water quality and steps to achieve these objectives. Agencies would be charged with implementing approved water quality management plans. 4. Water quality management agencies would design and operate

sewage treatment facilities , collecting charges for the treatment of wastes delivered to these facilities. 5. The Federal Government would enter into agreement with any Province to establish inter-governmental committees or agencies

to advise on water research, planning, management, and development, and to help co-ordinate and implement water policies and programmes. 6. Together with the Provinces, the Federal Government would

establish joint commissions, boards or other agencies to con­ duct water management programmes. Such programmes would be concerned with the supply, quality, distribution and other aspects of water. This would amount to a comprehensive approach to multi-purpose water resources management.


32 1

The proposed Act would recognise two fundamental facts : Firstly, water ignores political and administrative boundaries, and jurisdiction over it is divided. Secondly, water has a diversity of uses, and the same body of water often serves greatly differing needs over widely separated


Though it is generally agreed that the actual ownership of water resources is vested in the Provinces, the Federal Government has major and specific responsibilities for navigation and fisheries, and, jointly with the Provinces, for the agricultural use of water. It also has general

responsibilities arising from the fact that lakes and rivers extend aero s inter-provincial boundaries. A uniform approach and a consistent policy of water management are required, but it would not be reali stic to se t uniform standards ac ross the country. Attempts to establish minimum quality standards must take into account the regional interests of users.

It is now recognised by the Canadians that the management of their water resources is a regional problem requiring a regional approach; that it demands continuing and close co-operation and con ultation between all concerned; and that it calls for joint Federal-provincial

planning and joint programmes to be implemented by Federal-provincia l agencies specifically organised for the purpose.

The new Act would call for the pooling of Federal and provin cial reso urces in a drive to control pollution. Joint water quality agencies would be established in designated areas and, after consulting munici­ palities, industries and others interested, would establish water quality standards, carry out water quality control programmes, de sign and operate waste treatment facilities and collect fees from those who dis­

charge wastes or who benefit from agency-owned facilitie s or services.

The cost of pollution control would be borne largely by th ose who use water for waste di sposal. Both industry and municipaliti es would be required to pay for waste treatment services provided by a water quality agency or would have to install their own anti-pollution equip­

ment. The costs of comb ating pollution are estimated at several hundred million dollars a year.

T he new Act would give the wa ter quality agencies the necessa ry teeth by providing for the imposition, on those who wantonly pollute water, of severe penalties of up to S5,000 a day . The success of the Act would depend on agreement and close working relations between the Federal Government and the Provinces as the Federal Administration would be

able to undertake its own management and anti-pollution pro­ grammes only where Federal or inter-jurisdictional waters were invol ved .

United Kingdom In Great Britai n, rivers are small and short, the three largest bein g the Severn, the Trent and the Thames, which between them receive th e drainage from more than one-third of th e total popul ation . The


natural character of the water varies, some being brown-coloured owing to the presence of peaty humus, some turbid with suspended clay, and others clear and sparkling. 1 England, like other European countries, has a long history of sanita­

tion problems. 2 By the middle of the 19th century, pollution had become a very serious public health problem, particularly in such densely popu­ lated areas as Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Midlands and London, as large amounts of untreated human and industrial waste were being discharged into the streams. Following the work of two royal commissions on river pollution in 1865 and 1868, the Rivers Pollution Prevention Act of

1876 was passed. This applied not only to England and Wales but also to Scotland and Ireland, and until 1951 formed the basis for all legal actions concerning pollution of rivers, with the exception of rare cases under the common law doctrine of riparian rights. This Act contained rather strong provisions forbidding the discharge of solid and liquid wastes, but was largely nullified by a provision which required that no

action could be taken unless the local board was satisfied that 'no material injury will be inflicted by such proceedings on the interests of such industry' and other provisions which hindered enforcement. The River Boards Act of 1948 established a total of 34 river

boards, one for each ri ve r basin in England and Wales, transferred to them functions relating to land drainage, fisheries and river pollution, and recognised them as local authorities so that they could prosecute under the 1876 Act. These boards were later given authority to enforce

the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Act of 1951. This legislation basically repeated the general prohibitions of the 1876 Act and intro­ duced the primary new feature that any new discharge of industrial or municipal effluent could be made only with the consent of the river authority. The ri ve r boards were also permitted to enact by-laws which could restrict existing discharges, but none of the boards ever success­ fully used this authority.

The 1948 and 1951 legislation proved comparatively unsatisfactory, as it suffered from the weakness that the licensing powers of the river authorities with respect to industrial effluents applied basically only to new outlets or significant alterations in existing discharges. No standards for existing effluen ts had been specified in these Acts. The Rivers (Pre­ vention of Pollution) Act of 1961 extended the idea of discharge

licences to all discharges by requiring the consent of the river board to be obtained for the continuance of all pre-195 1 discharges.

The Water Resources Act of 1963, for the first time, endeavoured to deal with the whole problem of water conservation in a comprehensive manner, th ough it made little additional provision with respect to the regulation of pollution. The 1951 and 1961 Acts, however, remained in force. The 1963 measure amalgamated the 32 river boards into 27 river authorities, and added drainage and navigation to their

pollution control and water resources management roles. The position of the river authorities was further strengthened by their being given


32 3

a key role in the collection and analysis of basic data and information and the formulation of specific development proposals.

The following regulatory powers given to the river authorities by this Act are especially significant: 1. They are authorised to operate a comprehensive system for licensing water withdrawals from surface and ground water

sources. 2. They are authorised to introduce charging schemes under which water withdrawers will be charged on the basis of the quantity they have been authorised to take. These regulatory powers are associated with extensive multi-purpose development powers , which include:

I . The functions and powers transferred from the river boards to carry out development works relating to land drainage, flood control and fisheries. 2. Important new development powers that permit the river

authorities to construct, operate and finance multi-purpose faciliti es, including conservation storage for municipal, industrial and agricultural uses. Though this broad authorisation is not explicit in the 1963 Act, it is made possible by an aggregation

of specific heads of authority. At the national level, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have long been the dominant gove rnment agencies concerned with water. Under the new law

they continue to play a major role in their respective areas of concern. Of major significance also is the Water Resources Board, which acts in an advis ory capacity to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and supervises data collection, surveys and research related to water

resources. The Board also has specific approval and directive authority over ri ver authorities in a number of matters, including pollution control.

The river authorities are central to the new British system. Their managing boards are composed of representatives of local government authorities and of the central government in such proportions as always to assure th e local government authorities of a bare majority and no

more. The comment has been made that it is in these 27

semi-independent authorities that the grass-roots issues of water manage­ ment are faced.

Kn eese comments: The English ri ver authorities have at their disposal several poten­ tially effective management controls. They have authority to directly regulate the withdrawal of water from natural water courses, to regu­ late discharges of waste water, authority to charge for withdrawal of

water, and the authority to construct and operate water management facilities with primary emphasis on reservoirs to sune water and modify its natural flow characteristics. These tools permit the authorities to exercise control over waste discharge and water withdrawal and bring


them into some sort of balance with river flows. While charging schemes are also possible, there seems to be a strong emphasis on direct control. the heavy dependence on direct controls and failure to systematically integrate water and land planning must be counted as deficiencies. 3

The Continental Shelf Act of 1964 is concerned with the pollution of the sea by oil , wheth er via a pipeline or as a result of any operation for the exploration of the sea bed or the exploitation of its natural resources. The pollution may be as a result of sewage discharge from

a pipel ine, and pollution by radioactive substances also is considered. In general, th e United Kingdom legisl ation on water pollution reflects the advice of a World Health Organisation expert committee on water pollution th at special authorities responsible fo r each entire river sys tem should be es tablished and th at pollution control and water

resources management should be functions of th e same authority.

The most recent development has been the appointment of the R oyal Commission on E nvironmental Pollution, which held its in augu ral meeting on 25 January 1970. This will be a standing body that will be abl e to take evid ence whenever it wishes, and it will have direct access to the Minister responsible for it. Initially, it will work in three areas:

1. It will check for possible weaknesses in the anti-pollution measures, especially in relation to the area of responsibility. 2. It will act as a sensitive detector of any potential new threat, an d will be in a pos ition to make a rapid evaluation of the threat. 3. It will act as a clearing house for standards and will stimulate the

development of better techniques to measure and combat pollu­ tion. A highly centralised organisation will be set up around it.

New Zealand The increase in population and industrial development has led to much pollution in many parts of New Zealand. In recent times, the build-up of nutrients in lakes has begun to present a significant prob­ lem, causing accelerated growth of algae. Large pulp and paper mill s, in particular, discharge considerable quantities of pollutants.

The fir st major legislative action in the modern context was taken in New Zealand in 1953 with the passing of the Waters Pollution Act. This constituted the Pollution Advisory Council, which has functioned continually since 1954. The Act also made provision for regulations

to control water pollution. It provided also for by-laws dealing with trade wastes , and these have been important in local authority adminis­ tration in this field in succeeding years.

The Council, in its initial years, occupied itself with assessing th e problem, dealing with particular problems and attempting to find prac­ tical solutions to them. It pursued an active programme of urging local


32 5

authorities and indJJstry to abate and . mmumse water pollution to acceptable limits. In many instances, this approach was successful. The Council was able to achieve good co-operation with the operator of dairy factories and meat works by the formation of two committee s charged with finding solutions to the waste problems associated with establishments of these types.

The Council's early years might be classed as ones of education and persuasion. However, by 1959 it realised that success on a volun ­ tary basis had its limitations. Difficulties arose where discharges were close together, and in some instances there was no adequ ate formula

that would satisfy all the offenders. As a result of extensive inquiries in a number of countries, the Pollu ­ tion Advisory Council recommended the adoption of a stream classifi­ cation system. The Waters Pollution Regulations, which set out th e

administrative requirements and the various water quality standards, were promulgated in 1963, and some 16 major areas of the country have been classified, and active control programmes are being pu rsu ed in each.

At its inception, the Council was adamant that no new department was to be created to deal with water pollution and that all the servic­ ing of the Council was to be undertaken by existing departments. It wa realised by 1967 that the administration of water resources by different

government departments without much reference to overall de velop­ ment had led to patchy and limited results and that the fragme nted approacb was not in the best interests of the country or the publ ic . Administration of water management by a number of government

departments working with an even larger number of pieces of legisla­ tion was seen to be both inefficient and dangerous.

As a result of the change in approach, the Water and Soil Conserva­ tion Act of 1967 was passed to provide for a programme of co­ ordinated control of water resources by retaining and consolidating th e existing administration as far as possible. The principal features of

the new legislation were: 1. The constitution of a National Water and Soil Conserva ti on Organisation to advise the Government and co-ordinate, re view and exercise functions and powers in relation to water resources . 2. The constitution of a Water Allocation Council to be responsible

for the field of allocation and use of water. 3. The incorporation, in the new Organisation, of the Pollution Advisory Council and the existing Soil Conservation and Ri vers Control Council, which bad been established under the Soil Con­

servation and Rivers Control Act of 1941 to administer a regional system of catchment boards and commissions to control soil erosion and river control works. The administration of this new legislation bas been delegated to 21 separate regional water boards. With the changed approach,


Federal German Republic (West Germany)

the direct delegation and control exercised by the Pollution Advisory Council has been replaced by delegation of powers and functions to the regional boards.

The new comprehensive water policy applies to all parts of all waterways in a programme based on the classification of water and the issue of permits. Four classes of water are designated. All four are usually found at one point or other of the same watercourse, and any class includes the standards of all those below it. The classes are:

1. Waters in special upland catchment areas which can be com­ pletely controlled by a water authority. All parts of the watershed are in the hands of the authority and usually the area is under forest. These are for use as water supplies only. 2. Waters suitable for water supply purposes.

3. Waters suitable for recreational use (including swimming). 4. Waters suitable for general recreation (including fishing, but not swimming) and general agricultural and industrial use. The second major aspect of the New Zealand scheme is the permit system. All effluent discharges are subject to a permit that strictly lays down the conditions under which the effluent may be discharged. These

permits take into account the water classification at all downstream positions. A temporary permit is issued while improvements are being made, and a full permit is issued when all requirements have been met. However, if there is any change in conditions, including the volume of the effluent, a new permit must be sought.

An example of river basin management particularly worthy of note is to be found in the Ruhr Valley of West Germany. Two organisations have been established to control the entire drainage area of the valley, with its population of nearly 6 million and a huge complex of heavy industry based on the coal and steel industries. The Ruhr is only a

small river but is among the most heavily used anywhere in the world. It supplies drinking and process water not only for the communities situated in the drainage area but also for adjacent districts. It also has to absorb the discharge of sewage from a total of 2.2 million people

and from the vast concentration of industry.

This mammoth task is achieved by two organisations: the Ruhr Reservoirs Association (or Ruhrtalsperrenverein) and the Ruhr River Association (or Ruhrverband). The responsibility of these organisations, which share a common administrative unit, extends over all uses of

water, including industrial and recreational, and is not limited to the provision of drinking water. These Associations were created by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, by special Act, in 1913. They are self-governing, but State-controlled, public corporations, each with a



s1milar organisational structure, headed by a board of directors under what is known as the Assembly of the Association.

The Ruhr River Association constructs, operates and maintains the plants needed to treat the heavy volume of sewage and all industrial effluent discharged into the Ruhr, in such a way as to prevent pollution of the river and its tributaries. The Ruhr Reservoirs Association plans,

designs and operates reservoirs in the drainage area of the Ruhr. A remarkable feature of these Associations is that they have resulted from . collaboration between the cities, villages and industries represented on each of the Associations. They were formed independently of any action

on a national scale, and without pressure from the State, and have collected and expended large sums without receiving any subsidies . The Ruhr Reservoirs Association provides reservoirs to conserve the surplus yield of water during the winter, allowing its discharge in times of low run-off. To supplement the supplies downstream, there are

14 reservoirs, which control about 22 per cent of the drainage area. The catchments and storages are very extensively used for recrea tion. The key to control in the Ruhr is the maintenance of a suffic iently high level of water quality. The river is the source of water for 4

million people and also the recipient of the equivalent of the wastes from a population of 3 million. The Ruhr River Associ ation is responsible for diminishing the pollution load to such a degree as to allow . the ri ver to remain healthy. This Association operates I 04

sewage treatment plants and 31 pumping stations, and controls 4 lakes . The trickling filter or activated sludge process is used in most in stances, though sometimes chemical flocculation is adopted. The toxic wastes of pickling and plating industries require pre-treatment. To cater for small establishments, central neutralisation and decontamination plants

have been provided by the Association. A series of artificial lakes has been created to increase the drainage period for water and also the free surface area. This gains time for self-purib ion without the loss of the use of many miles of river to

achieve the same purpose. The two Associations jointly operate a large laboratory which not only aids in the control of day-to-day operations but also undertakes research in fields particularly applicable to the region, notably the effects of detergents and the mineralisation of water by industrial use.

Sweden Sweden has pl entiful water resources. Nevertheless, it has under-taken an ambitious and expensive campaign to clean up, and has adopted an imaginative programme to prevent further pollution fr om developing. An important feature of this campaign is based on th e

belief that a population well versed in the subject will ensure th e success of prevention efforts. The country has undertaken a public


education programme designed to produce in a very short time a well­ informed group of citizens who can organise public meetings and con­ front industry and civic authorities with effective criticism of their actions or neglect in areas where pollution occurs.

In the past 18 months, more than 300,000 persons, out of a total population of about 8 million, have received a minimum of several evenings instruction on the technical and legal aspects of pollution. In addition, more than 10,000 accepted an offer of an additional 2

weeks instruction. From this second group, more than 1,000 were picked from throughout the country to conduct public inquiries and to agitate for pollution control. The result so far is that people who have not thought about this problem are now angry at the destruction of their immediate environment. The ordinary citizen in Sweden, rather than feel helpless about the increase in pollution, now feels involved in the fight against it.

Sweden has banned DDT and all other chlorinated hydrocarbon chemical products from 1 January 1970. By legislation, it provides funds for research, for the establishment of standards and for matching grants to help industry and local government authorities to buy anti­

pollution equipment. Much pollution exists in Swedish waters, and particularly in the Baltic Sea, but current programmes stem from the exercise of fore­ sight rather than from responses to intolerable situations. The Govern­ ment provides from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the cost of sewage purification schemes, and a new law provides that municipal wastes may not be discharged without a permit.

Sweden is also developing long-term plans in which the emphasis is placed on the concentration of industry in the belief that this will make pollution easier to control and will leave larger areas of the countryside unaffected by industry.

South Africa South Africa, where water is an extremely precious resource, is notable for its work on th e reclamation and re-use of water. Onl y 600 gallons per person per day of river water are available there, com­ pared with 3,700 in the United States of America. In Australia, the figure is about 1,000 if all rivers are included, but only some 400 if the southern rivers near the major centres of population are used as the basis for the calculation.

Like Australia, South Africa can afford less than other countries to solve problems of pollution by dilution. Accordingly, the South Africans are emphasising the development of considerable water reclamation facilities. Already, the city of Windhoek, in South West Africa, is supplied with drinking water entirely obtained from re­ claimed sewage effluent. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Re­ search, a federally financed body, is conducting a great deal of research



on the

Powers over water are somewhat divided between the Federal Go­ vernment and the Provinces, with the Federal Government holding the predominant authority, which is exercised through the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. The provincial Governments have

powers ·over game and fish preservation; and control of water quality , abatement of pollution and disposal of sewage are in their hands. The major Federal legislation is the Water Act of 1965, th e basic objec­ tive of which is stated to be 'the control, conservation and use of

water for domestic, agricultural, urban and industrial purposes and to make provision for the control of certain activities on or in water in certain areas'. The sections of the Act which refer to pollution, puri­ fication and disposal of industrial water and efH.uents, disposal of effluents by local authorities, and prevention of water pollution em­

phasise that purification of water to its original condition is to be an integral part of any process, thereby serving to keep in mind the pos­ sible future reclamation of effi.uent for drinking water.

Finland Finland is a water-rich country and has a history of imaginative preventi ve leg islation on the statute book. Under an ordin ance passed in 1962, the owner of any installation from which certain types of pol ­ lutants may enter watercourses or groundwater must submit to the

Water Protection Office, at least 3 months before construction of the installation, details of the measures to be taken to prevent pollution.

France In FraBce, as in Britain, regional water management agencies are established by national law. Prior to 1964, French laws for pollution control were ve ry piecemeal and complex, and many agencies at central and local government levels were involved. Pollution control generally appears to have been rather ineffective and the French

Government, in 1961, indicated that some 4,200 industrial concerns were discharging harmful efflue nts. As late as 1965, of 25 million persons living in towns and cities with a population of above 2,000, only 3 million were served by any treatment facilities. Discontent with

the record of pollution control and the fragmentation of responsibility led to the establishment of a Commission on Water in 1959. As a result of its work, a new comprehensive law was passed in December 1964. This legislation may be described as revolutionary, and it en­

visages going further in some respects than any other country bas done, even with longer experience of the regional approach to water quality management.


Three features of this law are important: 1. It established regional agencies in each of the river basins of France, as regionalised agencies of the national Government. 2. It gave these agencies far-reaching powers to implement regional

programmes. 3. -It placed primary emphasis on charges, particularly effluent charges, to finance the programme and to co-ordinate private . and local government waste discharge measures with the objec­

tives of the regional agencies. In other words, charges levied on effluents are seen as the primary means for controlling waste discharges. 4 This Act did not repeal the previous pollution legislation but envisaged that much of it would be displaced as provisions of the new law became effective.

The Act divided France into six large basins, each of which is administered by two bodies: a Basin Committee and a Basin Financial Agency. The Basin Committee, on which the state, local authorities and users are· equally represented, plays an essentially advisory role in determining water policy. The Basin Financial Agency is an autono­ mous public organisation with the task of imposing charges for the discharge of polluted water, the revenue so gained being used to finance the construction of treatment plants. The user has to choose

between paying the charge or providing treatment at his own expense. The work of the Basin Financial Agency applies not only to pollution but also to supply systems in the basin. It prepares programmes, under­ takes the necessary studies, finances projects and ensures that resources and needs are balanced and that the quality of the water is maintained . A Technical Water Committee integrates the decisions and projects of the basin organisations with the regional programmes of the national plan. No fewer than 7 ministries and 9 important administra­ tive bodies are concerned with the problem of water resources.

The Netherlands The Netherlands, situated at the mouth of three important Euro-pean rivers-the Rhine, the Meuse and the Scheldt-inherits a lot of polluted water from Germany and France. Until recently, the emphasis in water control was on quantity rather than quality. However, under a Prevention of Pollution of Surface Water Act passed in 1966, the authorities previously responsible for quantity have been charged with responsibility for safeguarding the quality of the water. The provincial authorities have most responsibility, although the central government, through its control over health matters, provides the ultimate safe­ guards. The main causes of pollution in the Rhine have been sewage effluent, and non-biodegradable detergents have proved a particular problem. In the last 12 months, the Netherlands has changed to bio­ degradable detergents. The European Water Charter adopted by th e


33 1

Council of Europe in 1968 is doing much to co-ordinate the fight against pollution in the Rhine Valley.

Japan In Japan, with the high rate of economic growth and the progr ess of regional development in recent years, water pollution in waters subject to public use (rivers, lakes, irrigation aqueducts, harbours, coastal waters and the like) is becoming much more serious. Pollution by methyl mercury, in particular, is having serious effects on fisheries

and public health in some parts of the country. Public concern over water pollution is rising, and the necessity for public measures for the maintenance of water quality has become greater. Under a plan initi ated in 1959, the Economic Planning Agency has now surveyed the state of water pollution in 136 out of 166 areas. The major sources of

pollution include mining and factory effluents, urban sullage, discharges of oil from shipping, sewage treatment plants, abattoirs, piggeries and the like. Water supplies to cities, industries and agriculture are adver sel y affected, and urban environments and human health have been

prejudiced. Cadmium poisoning caused by pollution of rivers resulting from mining operations also has caused serious health hazards. An extensive research programme has been undertaken. Automatic river monitoring equipment has been developed and is widely used . A

variety of quick-recovery methods, including the forced introduction of oxygen in large quantity into water bodies, have been tested an d used to bring heavily-polluted urban waterways back to a more norm al state. However, this work has been principally experimental.

Technology has been developed by the Research Technology Experi­ mental Centre, where, amongst other research projects, a large-scal e hydraulic model of Tokyo Bay has been constructed to determine the waste dispersion characteristics of the water of the bay, to estimate

the effect on water quality that may be achieved by proposed ch anges in the bay system , and to determine the associated treatment and dis­ posal practices necessary to attain desired quality objectives. Basically, pollution problems arise on the one band from the expan­ sion of industrial plant without adequate treatment of effluents and

on the other hand from the concentration of population in cities with an attendant lag in the provision of sewerage facilities. With the growth of urban population and industry, urban waterways are becoming seriously polluted. Along with the urban explosion, more chemical fertilisers are being used, and the urban sprawl is producing areas in which agriculture, industry and housing are intermixed. This hampers

the planning of public facilities and has produced a serious lag in th e provision of sewerage services. Diversification of type and scale of industry is adding considerably to the variety of effluents which present problems for treatment and for technical and administrative control. In situations like that of the Sumida River, where the flow of urban ri ver


water is insufficient to dilute pollution from the adjacent sea, which is severe at high tide, extraordinary anti-pollution measures are needed to introduce purified water or to provide for the intensive development of sewerage treatment techniques.

Japan has long had river, harbour and mining laws, but with post­ war economic development it became generally recognised that these were inadequate to cope with the increasing scope and complexity of the problem of pollution. The absence of laws for the control of factory effluent was a major defect. The law for the Preservation of Water Quality, which came into effect on 1 March 1959, makes possible a comprehensive approach to the problem of the maintenance of water quality. Together with the Law for the Control of Factory Effluent, which operated from the same date, it forms the legal basis for the control of water quality. Standards of quality are set in the light of a comprehensive approach to relationships between industries and to the improvement of public hygiene in respect of a series of laws governing factory and mine effluents, sewage disposal and other matters. Rational and comprehensive administration of policies for the preservation of

water quality is thus made possible.

The Law for the Preservation of Water Quality is based on the desig­ nation of proclaimed water areas and the fixing of water quality standards, the preparation of a survey master plan, and the establish­ ment of a WateF Quality Advisory Council and of conciliation and mediation machinery to deal with disputes involving water quality. It

provides for surveys of waters in which pollution causes, or may cause, harm to industry or to public health. On the basis of these surveys, the Economic Planning Agency designates proclaimed water areas and fixes standards of water quality for areas so designated. These standards determine the maximum levels of pollution contained in effluent from factories, worksites, mines, coal washing plants and sewage discharged

into proclaimed waters. Under regulations made as necessary, local authorities exercise control of water quality in respect of waters other than those proclaimed and in respect of plants other than those specified in the Law for th e Control of F actory Effluent.

Japan has concentrated on several particular methods of encouraging and assisting industry to provide adequate waste-water treatment plants. Tax relief meas ures have been extensively used, together with technical assistance. Groups of industries have been encouraged to join together in providing common treatment plants.

The Japanese Government has allowed certain kinds of tax relief in respect of plant for the treatment of polluted water and of soot, as part of the programme to deal with what are regarded as public nuisances. In 1961 , the depreciation period was shortened for water

treatment plant, and such plant was exempted from fi xed assets tax. Similar concessions have been allowed more recently for heavy-oil desulphurisation equipment and waste-oil treatment plant.



As water pollution problems in Japan have a considerable element of local character, much must depend on the action of local auth oriti es. It is therefore considered important to strengthen the co-operation between national and local authorities to preserve the quality of water

where it is subject to public use. Accordingly, the Director of the Economic Planning Agency, in designating proclaimed waters, must bear the views of the prefectural governors concerned, and mu st also report to local authorities as necessary. Local authorities also have

power to call on the Director for co-operation as required and to state their views on matters affecting preservation of water quality in water subject to public use. The Water Quality Advisory Council is established within the Economic Planning Agency to investigate and consider:

L Matters concerning the adoption and alteration of the survey master plan. 2. Matters concerning the designation or alteration of proclaimed waters.

3. Matters concerning the setting or alteration of water quality standards. 4. Any other matters concerning surveys of water quality in waters subject to public use, or other important matters related to the

preserva tion of water quality in waters subject to public use, and subterranean waters.

The Council may, when it considers necessary, call on th e heads of administrative agencies, and local authorities concerned, to submit data. state views, make explanations or co-operate as necessary in other way s. Finally, the Public Nuisance Prevention Corporation provides con­ siderable financial assistance to businesses, particularly those on th e medium and small scales, for the installation of treatment plant The

scope of the Corporation's work is being continually expanded.

Israel Israel has an impressive record in the use of its limited water re-sources. In biblical times Moses smote the rock and water poured forth to assuage the thirst of the children of Israel. In modem circumstances., however, the Israelis have bad to develop more sophisticated water

management techniques. Intense concentration on the maximum pos­ sible utilisation of the available supplies has been forced on the country because of its exceedingly meagre resources and its growing population and rapid industrial, urban and agricultural development. As a for comparison, it is of interest to note that the total water potential

of Israel is 1,220,000 acre-feet a year, for a population estimated in 1969 at 2,771 ,000, whereas, in Australia, the water rerouted by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme alone is 2,000,000 acre-feet annually. Israel's sources of water at present are: groundwater, 54


per cent; rivers, 33 per cent; reclaimed sewage, 8 per cent; and inter­ cepted stormwater, 5 per cent. The available water resources are being fully utilised and the em­ phasis is on even more efficient use where possible, with control of

pollution as an integral part of policy. The Water Law (Consolidated Version) 1959-1965, in accordance with this approach, places all water resources at the public's disposal, though the citizen has the right only to the use of water, without any right to ownership. Deci­ sions on water distribution and priority are the responsibility of a Water Commissioner, who is responsible to the Minister of Agriculture. Licences, which are issued annually, prescribe the quantities that may be produced from resources and installations, and the quantities that may be supplied and consumed.

Any citizen may appeal against a decision of the Water Commis­ sioner to a Tribunal for Water Affairs. There is a right of appeal from decisions of this Tribunal to the High Court. However, the need to resort to the Tribunal is notably reduced by public participation in,

and scrutiny of, decisions through the medium of the Water Board, the membership of which is two-thirds representatives of the public and one-third government representatives. This Board acts at two levels. Firstly, it advises the Minister of Agriculture on questions of

water policy generally. Secondly, it advises him on specific matters mentioned in the Water Law, and particularly on all matters pertain­ ing to the issue of rules and regulations which are important to the public. An interesting stipulation is that in the absence of consultation with the Board on matters in the second category, decisions thereon made by the Minister have no legal standing.

Apart from the Water Law, the major acts related to the control of water resources and the prevention of pollution are the Water Drilling Control Law (Consolidated Version) 1955-1962, the Drainage and Flood Control Law (Consolidated Version) 1957-1961, and th e Water Metering Law (Consolidated Version) 1955 as amended by the Water Measurement (Amendment) Law 1959.

During the preparation of this report, the Committee was informed that a comprehensive water pollution measure was before the Knesset (Parliament). However, an English translation is not yet available and it has been impossible to obtain any specific information about the details of the proposed new law.

Some aspects of the Israeli si tuation are wor th noti ng parti cularly. Firstly, the water supply is very uneven , being am pl e in th e north and seriously defi ci ent in the south . As a result, water is ch eaper in the north, whereas the dry south pays dearly for it. However, the disparity is

partly corrected by the levying of a charge on water purchased in the north, the funds so obtained being used to subsidise the purchase of water in the south. Secondly, a commonplace practice is the rechargi ng of underground supplies by the deliberate emptying of surface water into the ground in times of surplus, so as to replenish groundwater


International Organisations and Agencies

33 S

levels artificially. This also helps to combat the very bigh evaporatio rate induced by the hot, dry climate. Conditions of recharging are rigidly controlled by the Water Commissioner. Thirdly, as has beeu mentioned, 8 per cent of all the water used throughout the country is obtained from reclaimed sewage, which is added to the generai

water distribution system.

The present emphasis on reclamation of sewage effluent may be indicated by reference to the sewage treatment and reclaiming facilitJ recently built to serve Tel Aviv, which had previously discharged its sewage untreated into the Mediterranean Sea by pipelines ending

half a mile from the shore. The new facility cost $US30 million and is capable of producing 50,000 acre-feet of reclaimed water per annum. The capacity will be increased to 82,000 acre-feet per annum by 1990. The process used has four stages. The waste water is first treated ill stabilisation ponds, consisting of anaerobic lagoons, aerobic lagoons,

and polishing ponds. From the polishing ponds, the effluent is pumped to an adjacent dune area into prepared level basins, and is then allowed to percolate into underground supplies. It is then recovered from wells surrounding the spreading area and finally pumped into the

large pipeline of the Western Yarkon-Negev project, where it is m ixed with water from other sources. Israel's growth can continue only if the country resorts increasingl::r to the re-use of water. Desalination also will have to be adopted, and

a great amount of research is being undertaken on this subject. Of this the Committee heard evidence, at its Perth hearings, from Mr K. C. Webster, who, on a fellowship provided by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, had been to Israel to study the work being under­ taken and had subsequently presented to the Trust a report entitled

Water R esources Development in Israel.

Finally, the comprehensive nature of the Israeli policy ought to be noted. The highly centralised system of control has done much to avoid pollution problems resulting from lack of definition of areas of responsi­ bility as between a number of agencies, and from unequal distribution of finance between agencies concerned with water resources manage­ ment.

Many international organisations and agencies are responding t o tbe growing concern around the world at the increasing pollution of waters and of the environment generally. A number of international bodies are now involving themselves in measures to combat, on an intern ational

scale, the dangers of pollution in its many and varied form s.

The World Health Organisation has for a number of years conceroe itself directl y with the he alth aspects of pollution of both air and water, and has done a good deal of work on surveys and the .collation of information.


The United Nations, through the Economic and Social Council, has sponsored a United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, to be held in Sweden in 1972, in the belief that it is 'desirable to provide a framework for comprehensive consideration within the United Nations

of the problems of human environment in order to focus the attention of Governments and public opinion on the importance and urgency of this question and also to identify those aspects of it that can only or best be solved through international co-operation and agreement'. The purposes of the Conference are:

1. To promote increased attention to the importance and urgency of environmental problems in policies and programmes of economic and social development, in both developed and developing countries. 2. To provide a forum for the exchange of views among govern­

ments on the ways and means of handling environmental problems, including machinery required for administrative and legislative action. 3. To identify those aspects of such problems which can best be

solved through international or regional co-operation and agree­ ment or which can be solved only by these means. 4. To consider methods to meet the need for intensified action at the national, regional and international levels. 5. To encourage wider participation and support for present and

future programmes of United Nations agencies, and other inter­ national organisations, related to the human environment, and to give them a common outlook and direction.

Many United Nations organisations apart from the Economic and Social Council are directly concerning themselves with pollution throughout the world by means of a wide variety of activities and programmes.

Internationally, the problems of pollution are receiving notice at the parliamentary level also. The Inter-Parliamentary Union, at recent conferences, has turned its attention to this subject. It now appears regularly on the agenda for meetings of this body, and several members of this Committee have participated in discussions on such agenda items

at recent conferences of the Union. At the Fifty-seventh Conference, held at New Delhi, from 30 October to 7 November 1969, some of th e essential considerations concerning man's relationship to his environ­ ment, of which water and its pollution are an important aspect, were

summed up by an Australian delegate-a member of this Committee-­ in these words:

Man in increasing numbers will live out his existence within the confines of our globe. Its physical resources cannot substantially be added to. They can be conserved; they can be re-used; but it is a fact of the physical sciences that we must operate within the limitations set


33 7

by the resources already present in the world. Once they have gone there will be nothing for man to live by or from. On the proper use of these resources will depend the availability of all those things which in all aspects of his being will enable man to realise his destiny. The conflicts in the world today, bitter

a.nd all those they may be, diverse and all as they may be, would be nothing compared with the bitterness of conflict in a world of diminish­ ing availability of natural resources. Life would become, to use the words of an English philosopher-'short, nasty, brutish and poor'.5

The interest of the Council of Europe has already been mentioned. The European Water Charter adopted by the Council in 1968 is aimed at making the utmost use of available water as well as protecting water from gross misuse. Furthermore, as we noted in Chapter 1, the Council

has named 1970 as European Conservation Year.

References 1. A. L. Downing, Pollution Control and R elated R esearch in the United King­ dom, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, p. 10 2. This section is based on 'Approaches to Regional Water Quality Management', by Allen V. Kneese, published in The Resources for the Future R eprint Series,

June 1967, pp. 11-6. 3. Kneese, p. 33 4. Kneese, pp. 16-9 5. Report of the Australian Delegation to the Fifty-seventh Conference of the

Inter-Parliamentary Union (edition originally tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament), Canberra, 1970, p. 43


9 Prospects and Choices

Water pollution, we said in the early chapters of this report, was increasing because of population growth and expanding urbanisation and industrialisation. If these continue to grow, so will water pollu­ tion unless something is done to prevent it. There is fairly general agreement in Australia that population, cities and industry will con­ tinue to grow and that, if anything, growth rates may well be faster than those experienced in the post-World War ll boom.

Such forecasts must, of course, be treated with caution. Forecast­ ing has alwa ys been the occupation of seers and magicians and, despite recent attempts to invest the task with an aura of science, the job is in many ways best left to them. 'The future', said Dr Johnson, two cen­

turies before the age of futurology, 'is pliant and ductile and will be easily moulded by a strong fancy into any form' .1 The same applies today. The most prestigious forecasts are still only educated guesses and they often differ from those that shimmer in a crystal ball only in the respect that they state their assumptions and predict several different possible futures instead of the one ventured by the sooth­ sayers of old. In a time of great economic growth and in a society that places high values on national development, it is only too easy to predict tomorrow as 'today but more so'. Hence we predict con­ tinuing population growth, faster economic expansion and larger cities.

And yet fashions about what is desirable and what is interesting are changing continually. It is not so long ago, for example, that demo­ graphic 'stagnation' was preferred to unlimited growth. Indeed, John Stuart Mill in the latter half of the nineteenth century preferred a 'stationary state', one which was both demographically and economi­ cally stable. There are warnings even now that unlimited growth may

be leading us nowhere. Three scientists from the Australian Museum, Sydney, have argued, for example, that Australia should plan for an optimum population-rather than pursue growth for growth's sake­ to avoid 'pollution of air and water, transport difficulties, crowding of class-rooms, loss of open space and over-use of recreational facili­ ties' .2 There has also been a good deal of sympathy shown for overseas critiques of the purely materialistic goals and aims of the modern 'affluent society' but there are few signs as yet that these dissenting views will prevail. Growth is still the national religion and develop­ ment is its prophet.

It therefore seems reasonable at this time to go along with the generally accepted predictions relating to population, urbanisation and industrialisation.


Population The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, in its 1968-2001 projection, issued in April 1969, showed a population of about 18 million in Australia by 2001, exclusive of immigration. This ad­ mittedly 'highly speculative' projection was based on large assumption

which will not be canvassed here. The basic figure of 18 million would rise to almost 23 million if immigration were assumed to bring in 100,000 persons per annum, or to 25 million with an intake of 150,000 per annum. For most practical purposes, it is generall y

assumed that the present population of about 12.5 million will double by the end of the century. Shorter-term projections vary widely according to the assumptions on which they are made. The Bureau's projection is for 15 million people by 1981 on the basis of an imm i­

gration rate of 100,000 per annum, but another widely quoted pro­ jection is for 16 million people by 1980 at an average annual grow th rate of 2.4 per cent.

Urbanisation and A concomitant of almost all assumptions relating to population Industrialisation growth is increasing urbanisation. Australia is already one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world. About two-fifths of the popu­ lation live in Sydney and Melbourne, and almost three-fifths in the

State capitals, which occupy less than one-thousandth of the total land area of Australia. More than two-thirds, in fact, live in cities of more than 20,000 people.3 During the 1960s the cities in general absorbed almost all of Australia's population growth and they, in their turn, continued to spread their bricks and tiles over increasing areas of the

best-watered countryside.

Adverting specifically to increasing urbanisation and industrialisation, Professor Denis Winston said: There is much evidence of an existing problem, most marked in the vicinity of large cities, where natural watercourses are becoming

increasingly polluted by industrial and domestic wastes. The rate of production of waste materials depends upon two variables: (a) The number of people, machines, facilities or industries pro­ ducing waste products that may directly or ultimately find their

way into streams, rivers, lakes or harbours; (b) The specific rate of production of waste matter per head of population and in different industries. The problems of pollution are becoming more serious because of increases in both variables 4

Dr M. J. Flynn, too, pointed to the consequences of the increasing urbanisation in the area of operations of the Metropolitan Water, Sewe rage and Drainage Board, Sydney. He said, 'As a regional ty pe organisation the Board recognises its water quality and pollution con­

trol responsibilities in the water supply, sewerage and drainage fields ,


not only to its current consumer population of 2.t9 million but to a forecast population of 5 million within ,the next three decades'. 5 The New South Wales Oyster Farmers Association, in its evidence to the Committee, said that over the years the land adjacent to the

industry's growing areas had been heavily urbanised and that this had introduced a pollution problem that was not of the industry's making. It referred in particular to the lack of efficient sewerage systems and the establishment of rubbish dumps adjacent to growing areas as hav­ ing imcreased the dangers of pollution to oyster farming. It claimed also that the problem had become so great that the future of the industry would be in doubt unless firm pollution control measures were taken. 6

This evidence was related particularly to the Georges River and Botany Bay areas. Mr H. J. N. Hodgson told the Committee that the position in the United States of America was a warning to all. He said that water

pollution in America in recent years had reached such proportions that it was regarded as public enemy number one. The main cause, though not the excuse for it, was the growth of population, together with the move towards urban living and great industrial development. He added that it was estimated that, by the year 2000, 90 per cent of Americans would live in urban areas and that most industries producing :waste waters would be located in those areas. 7

Atomic energy, of course, is assuming increasing importance as we look to the years ahead. The Australian Atomic Energy Commission emphasised this in its evidence when it said: 'As the application of atomic energy in Australia increases, and particularly with the intro­ duction of nuclear power stations and other facilities, the problems of

the treatment of radioactive liquid effluents will become more extensive. Some waste may require controlled storage for many generations, and the techniques for handling and treating such wastes are very specialised. •s

Associated with the cities are most of Australia's industries. Together they have set the pace of growth. More than twice as many people are employed in manufacturing as in primary industry. Manufacture is also highly concentrated, mainly in south-eastern Australia and in the

State capitals. Victoria and New South Wales, for example, house two­ thirds of the Australian population and provide three-quarters of the manufacturing jobs. It is fairly easy to predict where industrial and municipal pollution will

grow if this pattern continues. Australia has five important urban­ industrial centres : the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong area, which accommodates about one-quarter of the Australian population; the Latrobe Valley-Melbourne-Geelong area, which accommodates about one-fifth of the population; and three of the State capitals, Adelaide,

Brisbane and Perth. During the 1960s about 3 out of 5 Australians lived in these five centres; and the larger their populations, the more of the total population increase they absorbed.


34 1

Nor is it difficult to predict which of these areas faces the biggest potential industrial pollution problems, because the job magnetism and industrial structures of the areas are markedly different. The area mo st affected will be the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong area. It is the largest of the five and is attracting most people. Moreover, it specialises in capital-intensive industries, such as metal work and founding, and indus­

tries related to the nearby coalfields, such as the production of iron and steel. The Victorian area probably faces a lesser problem as it favours labour-intensive industries, such as textiles, clothing and shoe manufacturing. Neither Adelaide, with its bias towards the car industry,

nor Perth, should be as badly affected, although it is difficult to be so sure about what will happen to Perth as the industrial centre of gravity continues to move westwards. Nevertheless, with the continuing effective water management programme of the Swan River Conservation Board,

there is reason to suppose that whatever may be the developments in Perth, the river and its tributaries will be protected. Brisbane, however, probably faces at least a large potential problem, as it has a relatively high proportion of establishments engaged in slaughtering, food ca nning, bacon and ham curing, and the like.

This Committee has not attempted to prepare any predictions of future pollution more systematic than the few general observations above. However, in the absence of preventive action it must be accepted as inevitable that if population increases, and urbanisation and indus­

trialisation continue, the pollution potential also will increase-and probably more rapidly than it is increasing now.

But while cities and industries are making even greater demands on our water resources, the people themselves will be putting higher values on the same resources for recreation and scenic purposes .

. Leisure and One of the interesting trends in the twentieth century has been the Recreation growth of the average person's discretionary time, or leisure. The work­ ing day has become shorter, the 2-day week-end is now a privilege enjoyed by most Australian workers; vacations, which are now pro­

vided for in the employment agreements for most jobs, have tended to become longer; long-service leave is now granted to many employees; and earlier retirements, coupled with increased longevity, have made more leisure available to the aged.

Leisure should be regarded as 'free' or discretionary time, and recrea­ tion as an activity which may occur within this time. Nobody knows what proportion of leisure in Australia is spent as outdoor recreation, but it is probably relatively small, as most leisure, in most countries,

is normally spent around the home. Nevertheless, it would be a reason­ able guess to say that one of two things has occurred during the post­ ·world War II boom : leisure time in general has increased and the


proportion devoted to recreation has remained constant but increased in absolute terms; or both leisure and recreation times have increased.

Additionally, the real income per head of population has increased considerably. It would also be a reasonable guess that either a greater proportion of this is being spent on recreation, or the same proportion has meant more spent in absolute terms. Certainly the sales of recreation equipment, the sales of magazines devoted to outdoor recreations, and the increased newspaper space and advertising devoted to the more expensive recreations, such as boating, indicate that there has been

an outdoor recreation boom. Beaches near metropolitan areas are often crowded to capacity. Lakes and harbours are often packed to capacity by small craft, and sports such as water ski-ing, which were virtually unheard of 20 years ago, are now very popular.

Moreover, as the motor car has become available to most Australian families, people have been able to use more economically and effectively the time they devote to outdoor recreation. Increased mobility has allowed them to range farther abroad and to get to their recreation

areas and return home more quickly, thus spending more of the avail­ able time on recreation. If the car does not take them-for example to the venue of their annual vacation-the aeroplane often does, because more people have more money and can therefore afford quicker means of travel and thus more recreation time. This has meant two things: the amount of time actually spent on recreation has increased and the range of territory that can be regarded as recreation areas has expanded greatly.

Nobody seems to know for sure what outdoor recreations are the most popular in Australia but the surveys reported in the United States. by the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission9 may give us a rough guide. The Commission found that the simple activities­ driving and walking for pleasure, swimming and picnicking-were the most popular, regardless of income, age, education or occupation. It

also found that outdoor recreation opportunities were most needed near the metropolitan areas because they concentrated the most people, and had the fewest facilities per capita and the sharpest competition for land use. One of the main findings was that water was a focal

point of outdoor recreation. 'Most people seeking outdoor recreation', said the Commission, 'want water-to sit by, to swim and to fish in, to ski across, to dive under, and to run their boats over. Swimming is now one of the most popular outdoor activities and is likely to be the most popular of all by the turn of the century. Boating and fishing are

among the top I 0 activities. Camping, picnicking, and hiking, also high on the list, are more attractive near water sites.' 10

Some of the observations in the body of the report also are worth noting:

Urban or rural, water is a magnet. Wherever they live, people show a strong urge for water-oriented re-:reation. There are many other ·


3 43

reasons for water resource programs, and recreation use often is incidental or unplanned. To say this, however, is to note how great are the opportunities.

The first is clearing up pollution. In most major cities, pollution has destroyed valuable recreation opportunities, just where they are needed most. As a sanitation measure alone, the abatement of pollution is a necessity; inherently, it is also one of the best means of increasing

recreation opportunities.

The wise development of our shorelines is another first-order need. They are a unique resource, and the pressure on them is increasing­ on beaches particularly within a 3-hour travel time of major population centers.

Since World War 1/, there has been increasing recreation use of reservoirs. The availability of water recreation in areas that previously had little, answered a tremendous need, and this is particularly sig­ .nificant because these reservoirs were not built for recreation. 11

If recent trends are true indicators, both leisure and recreation time undoubtedly will increase. Furthermore, greater mobility enables people to take more advantage of their opportunities for leisure and recreation . On the other hand, workers may choose to take a second job, or, if

working hours are shortened, they may choose to work the same hours as now and enjoy the extra income. This will mean greater demands on such resource-based areas as seaside resorts, tourist lakes and rivers, because these are places in demand for the longer periods of recreation

when people have the time and the means to travel farther.

The foregoing discussion is based in part on suppositions and it is significant to note that insufficient study has been made of these aspects to permit the making of many definite deductions on the basis of fum evidence. But it is easy to foresee some of the consequences in rel ation

to water pollution. A more affluent, more mobile and more leisured public will value recreation waters more highly and be much less tolerant of pollution in any form. There will be even greater pressures than now to 'keep the beaches clean' and to 'save the stream'. There will be pre -

sures to classify recreation waters into, say, resource-based areas, high ­ density recreation areas, unique natural areas, and primitive or wilder­ ness areas, and further pressures to apply different, but strict, pollu­ tion standards to each.

It may well be that a society more conscious of the dangers of pollu­ tion and becomino less tolerant of it will seek to adopt more widely ' b '

the sort of stream control authority typified by the Swan River Con-servation Board. Or perhaps a better informed and more aware nation will turn to the system proposed in the new Canada Water Act, under which the Federal Government, together with the Provinces, will desig­

nate as a water quality management area any body of water where there is significant national interest. Severe penalties will be provided for fhe pollution of waters in such areas.


The increasing leisure and greater mobility of modem society will generate a very much greater demand for natural wilderness areas and national parks for recreation purposes. Mr M. K. Dunphy, who appeared before the Committee as Secretary of the Colong Commit­ tee, which was seeking to prevent mining in the area of the Colong Caves Public Reserve, and also as Secretary of the National Parks Association of New South Wales, told us that the natural wilderness areas in New South Wales were rapidly being diminished and given over to development. By contrast, in the United States in 1964 Con­ gress had passed an Act specifically for the purpose of dedicating vast areas of that country as national wilderness parks.12 The Committee was given an indication that some other countries set aside as much as 5 per cent of their total area as national parks, scenic areas, nature reserves and the like. Dr J. G. Mosley, after a comprehensive survey, assessed the figure for Australia, at 30 June 1967, at 1.1 per cent. 13 The preservation, within such areas, of clear, sparkling, unspoiled streams in their natural state would be regarded by all conservationists and by all people who sought pleasure in natural surroundings as being of inestimable value to the nation as a whole.

Choices Although the continued growth in population, increased urbanisa-tion, industrialisation and the increased demands on water for a variety of uses can be accepted as inevitable, there must be a reluctance to accept increased pollution as also being inevitable. What then are the choices available?

At present, the attitude towards pollution is generally one of pre­ vention and control, a commendable attitude but unfortunately one which has not been effectively carried out in practice. A continuation of present practice would provide little assurance that all areas of pollution would be effectively controlled. The present attitude of general discouragement of pollution, without specific enforcement, re­

sults in ineffective control and leads to water abuse where the exigencies of the moment prevail ove r the wider and longer-term issues If the legislation now available to health authorities, harbour and marine boards and drainage authorities had been consistently enforced, it

would be hard to envisage the situation described in earlier pages of this report being the result.

The most obvious choice, then, is to plug the gaps, strengthen the legislation and reinforce control measures and penalties. This would certainly lead to more uniform results. Unfortunately, such steps have proved to be in opposition to the pressures of growth referred to earlier and would lead to even greater conflicts than those at present existing.

There is emerging a realisation that the prospects of greater urbanisa­ tion and industrialisation leading to greater demands for water for a



variety of uses must be matched by a more comprehensive approach to the management of water. It is no longer sufficient merely to protect from pollution. Water must be used, but in such a way that the re­ source is preserved for further use and the environment is not impaired.

Typical of this approach to water resource management is the com­ prehensive exercise undertaken by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works as part of its study of the south-eastern trunk sewer proposals. In his submission on the proposals, Mr A. G. Robertson,

Engineer in Chief of the Board, said:

Since the quality of the reconditioned water will be superior to that required under the Public Health Act for discharge into inland waters, the only reasonable doubt which has been raised against the discharge of reconditioned water into the Bay is the possibility of eutrophication

due to the nitrate and phosphate content which might affect marine growth. However, the Board knows of no instance where the discharge of reconditioned water into a marine environment has caused any adverse condition.

Both the Commission of Public Health and the Fisheries and Wild­ life Department agree in principle to the Bay outfall proposal, pro­ vided that the Bay waters are kept under proper scientific observation. Thus in order to ensure that no incipient deleterious effects remain

undetected, the Board has in conjunction with the Fisheries and Wild­ life Department, begun a joint scientific examination and investigation of the marine environments and amenity aspects. In addition, the Board, in co-operation with the State Rivers and Water Supply Com­

mission, embarked on an investigation into the use of the recondi­ tioned water for agricultural and industrial purposes, such as process and cooling water for the Westernport Industrial Complex. Provision has been made in the plant layout for the addition of tertiary treat­ ment units for the removal of phosphates and the stripping of ammonia

should th e production of industrial water free of these materials be required. 14 And concluding his reference to this matter in the submission , he added:

In this connection, it is noteworthy that the Ecological Study on the scale planned is almost unique and will be invaluable from overall pollu­ tion control considerations and provide a substantial basis and frame ­ work for prese rving and improving the environment of Port Phillip

Bay for the millions of people who are obviously going to live around it or use it for recreational purposes. 15 The Committee is aware that such an approach to water use re­ quires the application of the most advanced research in many field s. The water technologists must develop processes which will assure ade­

quate removal of phosph orus and nitrogen and avoid eutrophication of streams. The agronomist must develop a form of agriculture that is compatible with the quantity and quality of water available, and there


must be a selective approach to the location of industries requiring large quantities of water. Already some centres are recognising that there should be no such product as waste water. The Committee was impressed with the exten­ sive use of reconditioned water from the Glenelg treatment works for

the irrigation of adjacent parklands, a golf course and the Adelaide Air­ port grounds. The whole of the water from the sewage treatment works at Richmond, New South Wales, is used for irrigation at the Hawkes­ bury Agricultural College and at the Richmond Golf Course.16 The Committee was told of the problems associated with dual systems of water supply, relating to duplication of distribution and dangers of cross-connections.H However, in the siting of treatment plants and the

planning of land use, there can be an opportunity for more effective re-use of water. The role of planning in providing an opportunity for optimum use of water is of some significance. Professor Denis Winston advised the Committee that water pollution is but one aspect of town planning, and emphasised that if we had a rational kind of planning, the pollution problem would be eased although not removed.18 Decentralisation of industry, for example, is but one measure that makes it easier to handle the situation.

The quality of streams can be improved by lagooning, and the location of such lagoons to serve urban communities can greatly increase the amenity of these areas. Given adequate control, the use of such lagoons for a wide variety of water-based recreation is possible. The growing needs of the community for water recreation may ulti­ mately require the selective and controlled use of upland storages designed initially for water supply. Not only may catchments be used for recreation, but forestry and other agricultural use may prove com­

patible with the primary purpose of the catchment. The conditions under which such practices can be adopted will need extensive and intensive study. Such study is already being undertaken and in this regard the National Capital Development Commission told the Committee:

Although the Cotter Catchment is virtually uninhabited, the lower areas have been successfully developed as Pine Forests. For many years the use of the catchment for this purpose was the subject of public debate. Accordingly in 1961 Professor L. !. H. Teakle, Deputy

Vice Chancellor of the Uni versity of Queensland and a former Pro­ fessor of A griculture was engaged to advise on the management of the Cotter Catchment and on the practices elsewhere in the world. His findings after scientific study confirmed that the Catchment area had in fact been improved by th e pine forests and that the forester is indeed a good conservationist.

Professor Teakle also drew the Commission's attention to the mount­ ing pressures which have emerged overseas for use of catchments for hiking, horseriding and for some aquatic sports.




Recent observations have confirmed a marked trend towards the acceptance of less rigid patterns of water use and given adequate controls, authorities are being encouraged to allow a wider use of catchments. This was particularly so in England where the British Government through its Secretary of State for Education and Science

and the Minister of Land and Natural Resources issued a join t circular urging a change from closed catchment to controlled use of catchments for active and passive recreation as well as water supply.

The nature of this use; its location and the method of control must all be determined before multiple use of any catchment can be allo wed. The technology now available for analysis and control will allow this broader view to be applied to specific areas.

This in no way suggests that the present practices in th e catch­ ment are inappropriate to the present situation. I t is rather that in planning for the future recreational needs of the community one of the possibilities could include the selective use of catchments uncler

controlled conditions supported by adequate laboratory and adminis­ trative measures.19

Repeated reference has been made in this report to the influ ence of stream flow on water quality. The salinity problems of the Murray River are inextricably bound up with the control of river flow s. In all cases where a stream flow is varied by diversion or by the con­

struction of a storage, the change in quality of the water and its environ­ ment, either by deterioration or by improvement, needs to be assessed.

The acceptability o.f development proposals whether arising from conservation measures, from the greater needs of rapidly-growing com­ munities or from industry, cannot be assessed against a background of pollution standards alone. The Committee believes that standards can

be used only as one of the tools in ensuring proper and efficient use of a limited resource to meet the increasing and more complex demands of the future. This Committee found it difficult to escape the conclusion that the

pressures imposed by municipal and industrial users of water and th e growing demands for recreational and conservation uses can be met only by a comprehensive and positive approach to water use and manage­ ment. It would seem to us that many of the apparent conflicts can be

resolved only by a co-ordinated and concerted effort backed by knowledge in regard to both the technological aspects and the socio-logical patterns.

1. The R ambler, N o. 41 , London, 7 August 1750 . .

2. F. H . Talbot, H . F. Recher, D . F. McMichael, 'Planmng for PopulatiO n Stability in Australia' Australian Journal of Science, Vol. 31 , No. 11 , 3. Commonwealth of Census and Statistics, Official Y ear Book of t e

Commonwealth of Australia, No. 55, 1969, Canberra, P· 124 4. Evidence, p. 4469



5. Evidence, p . 1501 6. Evidence, p. 1667 7. Evidence, p. 658 8. Evidence, p. 2350 9. Report, Outdoor Recreation for America, Washington, 1962 10. Outdoor Recreation for America, p. 4

11. Outdoor Recreation for America, p. 87 12. Evidence, p. 4517 13 . National Parks and Equivalent Reserves in Australia: Guide to Legislation, Administration, and Areas, Special Publication No. 2, the Australian Con­

servation Foundation, Inc., Canberra, September 1968. See table entitled· 'Statistical Summary of Australian Park and Reserve Systems' on the final page. 14. Evidence, p. 1200 15. Evidence, p. 1206 16. Evidence, p. 1529

17. Evidence, p. 1571 18. Evidence, p. 4484 19. Evidence, pp. 137-8


PART 2 Water Pollution: The Conclusions and Recommendations of the Committee




34 9



The Committee has expressed views and conclusions throughout th e report. Here it groups those which it believes to be most important.

Part of a Problem • Water pollution is only part of a much broader pollution problem which is threatening our whole national environment. • It can be solved most effectively by tackling it as a national problem. • In doing so, Australia must recognise its responsibilities in an inter­

national movement to clean up 'spaceship earth' and it must recogni se that it may be both polluter and victim in 'international' problems such as that presented by oil pollution.

A Scarce Resource • Water is a scarce and valuable natural resource, more scarce in Australia than in any other continent. • Australia has advanced well beyond the frontier days when water could be considered free.

• Today there is an economic price on water, a price that is increasing steeply as the population grows and industry expands.

A Deteriorating Asset • Because polluters so often escape full payment of this price, water resources all over the country are being squandered, by neglect or action, or by lack of administrative co-ordination.

• Rivers, streams, lakes, coastline and underground aquifers are being in all States and Territories.

• Some waterways can no longer be used except as sewers. • Fortunately, the deterioration of our water resources has not become so severe in Australia as it has in most older communities and in other advanced industrial countries. But the difference is only a

function of growth and time.

Problems and Causes • The main water pollution problems in Australia relate to sewage, industrial eflluents and salinity. ·â€¢ They are caused mainly by the lack of an effective pricing system, an abysmal ignorance of the causes and consequences of pollution ,

piecemeal and parochial administration of water resources, and half­ hearted and ill-directed methods of abatement.

15099/70-14 183

• Until recently, there was no general public awareness that water pollution was a problem. Even now, the awareness is only limited and comparatively unco-ordinated. • The lesson has yet to be driven home that water pollution respects

neither political boundaries nor social groups. Today, pollution is affecting the quality of our lives. Tomormw, it may affect longevity. • Yet all Australians may be numbered among both the polluters and the victims of pollution.

Confused Values • Although the blame for water pollution must be shared by all, some are more to blame than others. • The true weighting of pollution responsibility is reflected equitably neither in the financial costs of abatement nor in the social costs

incurred in lost amenity and decreased efficiency. • Pollution has too often been justified by false economics. Easily measured private profits have been used as a facile argument to justify intangible and immeasurable social losses. As the pressures

to pollute have been economic, the pressures to abate will be most successful where they also are economic. Costs must be weighed realistically against benefits and paid for realistically by plluters.

Ignorance and Inertia • Behind most pollution problems lie the twin factors of ignorance and inertia. • A general lack of water pollution experts and an almost complete lack of training facilities are manifest, and there is no concerted pro­

gramme of public education on pollution problems. • Few opportunities are available for education in the technical fields related to water pollution. • There are large gaps in the documentation of our water resources and

there is no pragmatic programme of research into the causes and con­ sequences of water pollution, or into its economics. • The existence in Australia of many societies, voluntary organisations and individuals already dedicated to a particular aspect of environ­

mental protection is widespread and plainly evident. Merely as illustrations, we refer here to bodies such as the Australian Con­ servation Foundation, the Colong Committee, the Great Barrier Reef Committee, the National Parks Association of New South Wales, and to the very many individuals who are greatl y concerned about aspects of the environment such as the protection of the coastline, the preservation of wildlife, and the maintenance in their natural state of water bodies such as the Myall Lakes in New South Wales. The existence of this keen interest gives promise that with proper stimulus, support and encouragement the nation may rely on a great body of


35 3

Australian citizens willing and anxious to lend their aid to a pro­ gramme of conservation, and pollution abatement. • Although there was a marked improvement in public awareness of pollution problems throughout the world during the period over

which our inquiry extended, there is, in Australia, neither a State nor a national programme of public education on water pollution. • The problem of water pollution is intimately related to a lack of understanding of water use and quantity. Any effective measures for

the preservation of water quality must deal comprehensively with the management of water resources. o The solution of the pollution problem in Australia will require the

use of extensive resources of money and skills, and will call for the acquisition of knowledge through education and research on a scale that will require a national approach.

Diffused • There is nothing in the present piecemeal and parochial admini s-Responsibility tration of water to prevent the insidious growth of pollution excesses . • The problem of pollution is so vast, the responsibility so diff used, and the ignorance of causes and consequences so widespread, th at onl y

a concerted national effort can save many Australian water resources from becoming unusable. • Adequate constitutional powers for such an effort are already avail­ able to the States and the Commonwealth. • Water pollution control in Australia lacks authority, co-ordination

and planning, and clearly defined objectives . • It also lacks money. • It is administered by a variety of organisations which respond incon­ sistently to sundry extemporaneous pressures.

• The Commonwealth is not exempt from this general criticism. Its administration of water pollution lacks cohesion and direction . • There has been a reticence on the part of many local and State authorities to enforce the existing laws relating to pollution control.

The closer the relationship between the polluter and the enforcing authority, the less stringent has been the enforcement. In fact, the enforcement authority itself is often a polluter on a much larger scale than the alleged offender. The absence of, or variation in,

standards and implementation policies has led to a situ ation in which industries have been able to take advantage of this disarray in gain­ ing the most favourable conditions when establishing a new polluter industry. • Too little encouragement bas been given to those authorities, com­

munities individuals and industries that have adopted a responsible ' attitude to pollution abatement and control. Such encouragement may be given by a co-ordinated and uniform approach which assists


in promoting the use of new technology and prevents the irrespon­ sible from gaining an advantage over the responsible. • Water pollution problems influence a wide range of regional issues. Local considerations, however, must have regard to the interests of

adjoining regions. The technical and financial resources required are often beyond the resources of the region, and a wider involvement is then necessary. • The overwhelming weight of our evideflce suggests that order can be

brought to this chaos of authorities only if they are co-ordinated at the national level.

A National Approach • The Committee concluded that the whole task of water resources management could best be undertaken on a national scale. • It sees as vital the need to identify a national interest in water and to define a basic structure by which a national policy may be imple­

mented. It leaves for later investigation and consideration by appro­ priate bodies within that structure the detailed processes by which the interest and policy may be effectively implemented. • In particular, the Committee identified the following a{;tivities which

it believes cannot be effectively handled otherwise : Co-ordination. There must be State-Commonwealth co-ordination in ensuring that a balance between conservation and development is attained. Assessment of present and potential pollution. There must be a com­

prehensive quantitative assessment of present and potential pol­ lution problems and a continuing assessment of the country's water resources. Techniques for abatement and control. Technical resources must be

co-ordinated to deal with common problems. Where unique skills and advice on techniques for abatement and control of pollution are required, these should be readily available from a national body. Determination of criteria. General criteria are required for assessing

the acceptability of water for specific uses. These could then be adapted to differing local conditions. Finance. As the existing problem is so extensive and the potential problem so great, there seems little doubt that financial aid will

be a significant factor in the encouragement of pollution abate­ ment and prevention measures. Legislation. The diversity of attitudes reflected in the absence of unity in legislative control suggests that a co-ordinated approach to

new legislation is essential. International considerations. World concern and debate on water issues is increasing rapidly. A focus for Australia's participation in such debate and action is therefore desirable.


35 5

Arbitration. Conflicts inevitably occur in water resources manage­ ment, and in cases of dispute there is a need for a recogni sed authority to arbitrate. This could be undertaken at th e national level. • The Committee regards as fundamental to a co-ordinated policy on

water pollution the emergence of a national body that could operate and co-ordinate at the core of the whole national programme against pollution. • The evidence tended to establish firmly that the Commonwealth may

lay down and enforce a national approach through Commonwealth legi slation alone. However, the Committee believes that, having regard to the Federal concept of the Australian Constitution, the creation of an effective national policy through one national age ncy

acting with and through State pollution control bodies should prefer­ ably be achieved by the adoption of concurrent, parallel or comple­ mentary legislation. • There are certain areas in relation to services such as research

which require only Commonwealth legislation. • An effective approach to water quality, conservation and water development can best be achieved by bringing together a wide range of skills, used in a vigorous corporate approach but maintaining

the integrity of the individual disciplines. • The wide variety of skills and interests involved in water pollution issues does not allow the identification of any national body with any individual Government Ministry. There could be direct conflict

of interest in the location of the water pollution responsibility in the Department of National Development, the Department of Health or any one of a number of other departments. • Although there can be a measure of arbitration within the national

body, conflict between Commonwealth, State and individual interests will requite resolution. It is necessary, therefore, that an independent body within the Federal concept be created or utilised for this pur­ pose. In this regard, the Committee has noted the nature of the Inter-State Commission provided for in the Constitution, and believes

that consideration might well be given to its re-formation wi th , if constitutionally possible, effective arbitral power, and in a form suit­ able for the resolution of these potential conflicts.




1. A National Policy. Australia should adopt a national approach to the management of its water resources which sets out acceptable standards, co-ordinates the aims and aspirations of State and local government authorities, and creates the machinery to achieve them in balance with other national goals such as those for growth and


2. A National Body. The Commonwealth should take urgent steps to establish a National Water Commission. The functions of the Commission should include: (a) the formulation of a national policy on water resources

management; (b) an assessment of water resources and quality; (c) programming .for the conservation and orderly development of water resources.

It should also be the administering authority for water resources within the Commonwealth's jurisdiction.

It should be required to take such measures as are necessary for the carrying out of these functions. These measures would include encouragement, assistance and co-ordination in regard to: (a) the preparation of legislation and its enforcement;

(b) the conducting of research; (c) education in the field of water development and quality control; (d) technical and financial aspects of the programme; (e) public awareness. The National Water Commission should be responsible to a Minister of State determined at the time of its formation.

The Commission should consist of a Commissioner and six full­ time Associate Commissioners.

The six Associate Commissioners should be appointed from a panel of nominations invited from the State Governments, and each should, in relation to the consideration of policy matters, have regard to, and liaise with, the State by which he was nominated. Each Associate Commissioner should be responsible for the direction of one group of disciplines within the Commission.

The Commissioner, inter alia, should be responsible for the administration of water matters within all Commonwealth Territories and in those areas which are the direct responsibility of the Commonwealth.


35 7

The Commission should be assisted by a multi-discipline adminis­ tration involving specialists in the fields of health, engineering, ecology, finance, law, conservation, planning, research and education.

To mobilise the interest of the numerous societies, voluntary organisations and individuals dedicated to the preservation of the environment, the Commission should set about the creation of a suitable voluntary advisory body, with appropriate Federal and State

organisations and reasonable financial support. Any hope of solution of the pollution problem, which is part of the environmental problem, must be greatly enhanced by public participation and support. Such an advisory body would provide for this participation

and give it cohesion and strength.

3. A Comprehensive Approach. The control of pollution should be undertaken by authorities representative of all interests. The pre­ vention and abatement of pollution requires a comprehensive approach involving land-use planning, sociological and ecological assessments and the application of specialist water pollution

technology. This comprehensive approach should be the objective at all levels of government. To achieve a co-ordinated, comprehen­ sive approach, it is necessary, in the view of tbis Committee, that each State move towards the creation of its own central authority

to co-ordinate State activities and to permit the most effective co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the States. 4. Sys tematic Assessment. Regional and State authorities should be encouraged to undertake, with the National Water Commission, a

systematic quantitative assessment of water quality and to monitor regularly their waterways and any pollution that occurs in them. Pending the formation of the Commission, the Commonwealth should encourage the interchange of data and the discussion of

acceptable criteria. 5. Financial and Technical Resources. The financial and technical resources required to undertake an adequate programme of pollution abatement should be assessed. A financial aid programme in accord

with the national policy should be considered. This should have particular regard to the major areas of sewerage, industry and salinity. The Commonwealth should consider the practicability of making special loans or emergency grants to industry and to local

government for works and research. Prior to the formation of the National Water Commission, con­ sideration should be given to the need for a coastal protection fund to meet the cost of damage arising from tanker mishaps and oil spillages fro m refineries. Funds for this purpose could come from

appropriate oil industry levies. 6. L egislation and Control. Urgent consideration should be given to the preparation of adequate legislation .for the control of water pollution in Commonwealth Territories. Through the National


Water Commission, the Commonwealth should encourage the standardisation of legislation and codes of practice in water pollution matters, and should assist in the collating of existing legislation. 7. Education. The Commonwealth Government should, as a matter of

urgency, examine the facilities available for the education of pro­ fessional and technical persons in water pollution matters so that the provision of adequate facilities will not be unduly delayed. Pending the establishment of the National Water Commission, the Commonwealth should use such instrumentalities as are available for the collection and dissemination of technical data. 8. Research. The Commonwealth should provide research and travel

grants for qualified workers in those fields already identified as significant in water pollution abatement. Studies directed towards the controlled re-use of water should be encouraged. 9 . Public Education and Encouragement. The Commonwealth should,

through existing organisations, subsidise public education pro­ grammes on pollution and encourage a responsible attitude by all sectors of the community. Urgent attention should be given to measures relating to detergents, nutrients and industrial wastes. Financial inducements by way of subsidies should be considered.


35 9


Because of the length and nature of the Committee's inquiry, the list of acknowledgments is necessarily considerable. We wish to acknowledge especially the enthusiasm and interest in the Committee's work displayed in so many ways by the individuals

and organisations with whom we have been associated in the course of our investigations. Particularly, we thank for their valuable and thoughtful contributions to the outcome of our inquiry all the repre­ sentatives of official authorities, community organisations and societies ,

as well as the individual citizens, who appeared as witnesses or who presented submissions but did not appear before the Committee to give oral evidence. Our appreciation is extended to the Minister for th e Interior, the Hon. P. J. Nixon, M.P., and the National Capital Development

Commission for their co-operation in making available to the Committee as Technical Consultant Mr C. J. Price, First Assistant Commi sioner (Engineering), and Mr F. C. Speldewinde, Investigation Engin ee r, a alternate when, owing to pressure of other duties, Mr Price was un able

to attend our meetings. The Committee is especially grateful to Mr Price for his personal enthusiasm for the whole project, his grasp of the technical and other complexities involved, and the matu ri ty of judgment and the quality of the specialist advice that he contributed

to our investigations and deliberations. We wish to thank also, for their co-operation and their interest in our labours, those Minis ters of the Crown, both Commonweal th and State, who made available the services of their officers to assist and

advise the Committee. Because of the special nature of our inquiry, access to much material from overseas was required, and we record our appreciation of the aid of those official representatives and officers of governments and authori­

ties of other countries who so readily made it possible for us to obtain the information that we needed. Special appreciation goes to the members of Commonwealth Parlia­ mentary Reporting Staff for their skill and constant attention to the difficult task of reporting the proceedings of the Committee throughout many months. We wish to place on record, too, our indebtedness to the Legislative Research Service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary

Library for the special interest displayed and the assistance so fre­ quently provided by its officers. We acknowledge also the generosity of the private citizens, organisa­ tions, news med ia and offici al authorities th at provided photo­

graph , maps and diagrams from which those appearing in the report have been selected. The Committee takes this opportunity to thank also the officers of our own Commonwealth Parliament and the State Parliaments who

15099!70-15 191

so courteously and generously extended to us the facilities at their command.

There are many other organisations and individuals who assisted the Committee in one way or another, and we wish to place on record our appreciation of their interest and efforts on our behalf.

Our special thanks are extended to the Commonwealth Government Printer and the members of his staff who gave the Committee the advantage of their skills in the design of the report as a production and laboured unremittingly to expedite its completion.

The Committee is particularly indebted to Mr Maurice Dunlevy for the benefit of his special skill and talents, which were of invaluable assistance to us in the preparation of this report to absorb the essentials of a vast volume of unfamiliar material in the minimum of time.

We wish to acknowledge the Committee's very great indebtedness to the members of its own secretariat and others within the staff of the Senate. Without their endeavours, sometimes under difficult conditions, this report could never have been completed. We are deeply appreciative of the work of the Committee's first Secretary, Mr H. C. Nicholls, Usher of the Black Rod, and particularly of the capable manner in which he completed all the details of the preliminary planning and organising of the commencement of the inquiry, and followed it through until most of the evidence had been taken.

Finally, the Committee wishes particularly to place on record its tribute to the work of Mr R. G. Thomson who, after serving as Assistant Secretary for 6 months, assumed full responsibilities as Secretary in August 1969. The Committee cannot speak too highly of the dedication, enthusiasm and high degree of skill that he brought to the discharge of his duties. Especially do we record the constructive and positive nature of his work. This, together with his personal interest in our enormous assignment, proved to be of immense help in the conduct of the inquiry, and greatly facilitated the deliberations of the Committee.

The Senate, Canberra 10 June 1970


G 0 R D 0 N s. D A v I D s 0 N



Appendix I On-Site Inspections made by the Committee

Canberra 1. Captains Flat mine and upper Molonglo River 2. Cotter River catchment area 3. Weston Creek sewage treatment works and lower Molonglo River

Adelaide 1. Bolivar and Glenelg sewage treatment works

.M elbourne I. Yarra River and eastern beaches on Port Phillip Bay 2. Werribee sewage farm

Geelong 1. Corio Bay foreshores 2. Shell Refining (Australia) Pty Ltd refinery



I. Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd plant at Matraville, eastern beaches and ocean sewerage outfalls 2. Sydney H arbour and Parramatta River

Brisbane 1. Brisbane River 2 . Bulimba and Doboy creeks

Perth Kwinana industrial area and ocean foreshores (by air)

Bunbury Laporte Titanium (Australia ) Ltd plant (and ocean foreshores by air)

Burnie Australian Titan Products Pty Ltd plant, Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd plant, aird ocean foreshores

Launceston l

Tamar River sewerage outfall

Bell Bay Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Ltd plant, and effluent outfalls in the area

Darwin Harbour, and sewerage outfalls

Sarina Australian National Power Alcohol Co. Pty Ltd plant, and effluent outfall at Oonooie; Armstrong Beach; and Plane Creek Central Sugar Mill


Appendix II Witnesses

Abbott, Mr J. S.

Aldrick, Mrs S. J .

Allen, Mr C. A. Allen, Dr J. R ..

Allwood, Mr A. J.

Andrew, Mr R. L.

Andrews, Mr G . E.

Andrews, Mr W. C.

Anson, Mr C.

Auty, Mr J. H . .

Bagley, Mr W. R. C. Bassett, Mr M. A.

Basten, Sir Henry B. Boswell, Mr R. W. M.

Bowen, Mr B. K.

Boxall, Mr A. R.

Boyle, Mr E. F.

Braithwa ite, Mr J. B. Brewster, Mr J. E. Brigden, Mr K. F .

Briggs, Mr D. C.

Brookes, Mr J. D. Brownlea, Mr A. L.

Bryson, Mr R. K.

Buch anan, Mrs D. A. Burdett, Mr K. R.

Burdon, Mr E. R.

Burdon-Jones, Professor C.

Burton, Mr G. M.

Burvill, Mr G. H.

Butcher, Mr A. Dunbavin Caldicott, Mr R.


Principal Assistant Engineer, Irrigation and Drainage Branch, Public Works Department, Western Australia Plant Pathologist, Primary Industries Branch, Northern Territory Administration Town Clerk, City of Launceston Director of Research, Sugar Research Institute, Mackay,

Queensland Entomologist, Primary Industries Branch, Northern Territory Administration President, Murray Citrus Growers Co-operative Associa­

tion (Australia) Ltd, South Australia Secretary, National F armers Union of South Australia (Inc.) Associate Commissioner, National Capital Development

Commission, Canberra Petroleum Registrar, Mines and Water Resources Branch, Northern Territory Administration Chief Agronomist, Primary Industries Branch, Northern

Territory Administration Sarina, Queensland First Assistant Secretary, Secondary Industry Policy Divi sion , Department of Trade and Industry, Canberra

Chairman. Australian Universities Commission, Canberra Secretary, Department of National Development, Can­ berra Director, Department of Fisheries and Fauna, Western

Australi a Representative of the Wine Grapegrowers Council of South Australia Chief Hydraulic Design Engineer, Department of the

Co-ordinator-General of Public Works, Queensland Sen ior Mining Engineer, Department of Mines, Tasmania Plant Manager, B. F. Goodrich-C.S.R. Chemicals Ltd Fi rst Assistant Commiss ioner of Taxation, Taxation

Branch, Department of the Treasury, Canberra Superintendent of Research and Planning. Education Department, Western Australia Tech nical Director, Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd School of E arth Sciences, Macquarie University, New

South Wales Secretary, North Queensland Master Fishermen's Association, Townsvi lle, Queensland Ke w, Victoria President, South Australi an Branch, National Farmers

Union Commercial Manager, Australi an Tita n Products Pty Ltd, Burnie, T asmania Professor of Marine Biology and Head of the School of

Biologica l Science, Unive rsity College, Townsville, Queensl and Geologist, Engineering Section, Bureau of Mineral Re sources, Department of National Development,

Canberra Acting Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia Director, F is heries and Wildlife Department, Victoria

Convener, Pollution Committee, Mount Lofty Ranges Associ ation In c., South Australia

Callinan, Mr B. J.

Camm, Mr R. F. Carmody, Mr T. J.

Castles, Professor A. c. Clark, Mr T. M. Cliffe, Mr J. T.

Connell, Dr D. W. Cooling, Mr E. K.

Cossins, Mr G ..

Coulson, Mr G. T.

Courtney, Mr W. R.

Crancher, Mr D. W.

Croll, Mr R. D.

Cronin, Mr J. D .

Darby, Mr E. D ., M .L.A. D avis, Mr C. H. C.

Davis, Mr C. W.

Deakin, Mr J. .

Dobson, Mr K. F. Dormer, Mr P . .

Downes, Mr R. G.

Dunphy, Mr M. K.

Dwyer, Dr J . M.

Dyer, Mr S. A.

Edgerley, Mr M. W.

Edwards, Mr J. A.

Edwards, Mr J. K.

Edwards, Dr R. A.

Elliott, Mr M. A.

Ennor, Sir (Arnold

Hughes) Hugh Etherton, Mr L. N .

Evans, Mr H . K.

Partner, Gutteridge, Haskins and D avey, Consul ting Engineers Director, Monbulk Preserves Ltd, Monbulk, Victoria Secretary, Australian Research Grants Committee,

Department of Education and Science, Canberra Dean of the F aculty of Law, University of Adelaide, South Australia Chief Mining Engineer, Joint Coal Board

Representative of a group of farmers at Yukan, near Sarina, Queensland President, Queensland Littoral Society President, Binningup Progress Association, Western Aus­

tralia Investigating Engineer, Department of Water Supply and Sewerage, Brisbane C ity Council Senior Engineer, Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage

Board, Victoria Chairman, Swan River Conservation Board, Western Australia Principal Research Scientist, Special Projects Division,

Australian Atomic Energy Commission Assistant Secretary (Agricultural and Biol ogica l Sciences) Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Chief Engineer, Gold Coast City Council , Southport,


Balgowlah, New South Wales

Director (Land Co-ordination), Department of the Interior, Canberra Chief Chemist and Technical Director ( Raw Sugar) Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd

Member, Salinity Committee, Australian Dried Fruits Association Pollution Control Co-ordinator, Mobil Oil Australia Ltd Representative of the Mount Lofty Ranges Association

Inc., South Australia Chairman of the Pesticides Review Committee and of the Soil Conservation Authority of Victoria Secretary of the Colong Committee and of the Nati onal

Parks Association of New South Wales Federal President, Australian Water and Wastewater Association Representative of the Wine Grapegrowers Council of

South Australia

Di rector, Forest Branch, Department of the Interior, Canberra Captain, Roseville Amateur Swimming Club, New South Wales

Port Manager and Port Engineer, Port of Launceston Authority Consultant, New South Wales Oyster Farmers Associ a­ tion Bio logist, Agricultural Branch , Department of the

Interior, Canberra Secretary, Department of Education and Science, Can­ berra Acting Assistant Secretary, Marine Services Branch,

Department of Shipping and Transport (Common­ wea lth) Chief Health Inspector, Department of Public Health , New South Wales


Flynn, Dr M. J.

Ford, MrE G ..

Freeman, Mr R. W. Fuller, Mr A. M.

Gabriel, Dr M. H.

Garbutt, Councillor W.O. George, Dr R. W.

Gillies, Mr A. R. Girard, Mr A. C. Green, Mr K. D.

Haldane, Mr A. D.

Hamann, Mr J. B. H ammer, Mr J. H arper, Mr A. W.

H arrison, Mr G . L. H art, Mr J. A. .

H ausler, Mrs L. R. H ay, Dr I. K.

H azelman, Mr K. T.

Henry, Mr L. de W.

Herbert, Mr L. S.

Hillman, Mr R. M.

Hindley, Mr M. A.

Hirst, Mr G. G.

Hodgson, Mr H. J. N. Hodgson, Mr J.

Hoerner, Mr M. J. R. Holmes, Mr J. E.

Howard, Mr K. W.

Hulton, Mr H. R. B ..

Hunt, Mr H . C.

Hunt, Mr M.


Chief Medical Officer, Metropolitan Water, Sewerage· and Drainage Board, Sydney, and Past President, Australian Water and Wastewater Association Health Inspector, representing Coburg and Preston City

Councils, Victoria Avoca, Tasmania Manager, Harbour and Light Department, Western Australia

Senior Health Officer, Department of Health, Queens­ land Chairman , Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Inghan1, Queens­ land Representati ve of a group of scientists in Western

Australia Manag er, Motherwell Bridge (Australasia) Pty Ltd Chief Administrative Officer, Joint Coal Board Commiss ioner, State Rivers and Water Supply Com-

mission, Victoria

Chemist, Bureau of Mineral Resources, Department of National Development, Canberra Product M anager, Esso Chemicals Australi a Ltd Manager, Nairn e Pyrites Pty Ltd, South Australia Technica l and Mechanical Engineer, Joseph Lucas

(Australi a) Pty Ltd, Victoria Executive E ngineer, River Murray Commission Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Veterinary Div ision, Department of Primary Industry, Canber ra President, Housewives Association of South Australia

Metropo litan Medical Officer of Health, Department of Public Health, New South Wales Represen tative of the Kyabram R atepayers Association, Kya bra m, Victori a Chief Se werage Engin eer, Department of Local Govern­

ment, Queensland P rin cip al Resea rch Scientist, Division of Chemi cal Engin eering, Commonwealth Scientific and Industria l Resea rch Orga nisati on Chief Engin eer. Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage

and Dra inage Board. Perth C hief Engineer, H unter District Water Board, New South Wales Acting Offi ce r in Charge, Project Section, Bureau of

Agr ic ultural Economics, Department of Prim ary Industry, Canberra Past President, Insti tutio n of Engineers, Australia Operation Manager, Aus trali an Titan Products Pty Ltd,

Burn ie, Tasmania City Engin ee r. City of Launceston Weeds Agronomist, P rim ary Industries Branch , Northern Territory Administration Senior Health Inspector, Bankstown Munici pal Council ,

New South Wales. and representative of the Australian Institute of Health Surveyors Publ ic H ealth Engin ee r. Water Supply and Sewerage Branch, Dep artment of Pu bli c Works, N ew South

Wales Chief Health and Bu ildjng Inspector, Bankstown Muni-cipal Council. ew So uth Wales. and representative of the Australian Institute of Health Surveyors Manage r (Combusti on Engineerin g), Broken H ill Pty

Co. Ltd

Hurren, Mr F. .

lfould, Mr E. L.

Inglis, Mr I. G.

Jack, Mr K. W.

Jolly, Mr J. L. .

Jones, Mr H. L.

Kartzoff, Mr M.

Keating, Mr W. W. Keep, Mr D. N.

Kinnear, Mr A. M.

Kruger, Mr H. D .

Lake, Mr J. S. Lang, Mr J. D.

L angley, MrS. K.

Langsford, Dr W. A. Lanteri, Mrs A. Lees, Mr J. M ..

Lewis, Mr K. W.

Lines, Mr D . F.

Luby, Mr A.

Lynch, Mr D. D.

Macintyre, Mr J. M.

Mackey, Mr G.

Mackinlay. Mr K. H . Mackintosh, Mr T. A.

MacRae, Dr I. C.

Makinson, Mr T. C. M.

Marriott, Mr R. L. Marshall, Mr J. H.

Masters, Mr W. M.

Mather, Dr P. . McArdle, Dr E. J.

15099/ 70-16

36 /

Representative of the Mount Lofty Ranges Association Inc., and of the Stirling District Council South Aus- tralia '

Managing Director, Australian National Power Alcohol Co. Pty Ltd Chairman, Rivers and Water Supply Commission Tas-'

F irst Ass istant Director-General, Engineering Di vi ion, Department of Works (Commonwealth) Deputy Chief Inspector, Department of Mines, ew South Wales

Assistant Director-General (Hydraulics) , Department of Work s (Commonwealth)

Vice-Patron, Roseville Amateur Swimming Club, New South Wales Professional fisherman, Sarina, Queensland Secretary, Rivers and Water Supply Commission, T as­

mania Assistant Engineer for Irrigation and Drainage, Engin-eering and Water Supply Department, South Australia Chief He alth Inspector, Department of Health, Canberra

Consultant, Colong Committee, New South Wa les Chief Engineer, Town Water Supplies and Local Authorities Branch , State Rivers and Water Suppl y Commission, Victoria

Man ager of Engineering, B. F. Goodrich- C. .R.

Chemica ls Ltd Commonwealth Director of Health, Northern Territory Brighton, Victoria General Manager, Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Ltd ,

Tasmania Engineer for Water and Sewage Treatment, Engi neeri ng and Water Supply Department, South Australia Technical Services Manager, Geelong refinery, Shell

Refining (Australia) Pty Ltd Public Relations Officer, Port Phillip Anti-Sewage Pollu­ tion Committee, Victoria : hairman, Inland Fisheries Commission, T asmani a

Engineer- in-Chief, Geelong Waterworks and Sewerage Trust Acting Assistant Director, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Department of Primary Industry, Can­

berra Man 3ge r, Engi neering. Geelong Harbour Trust Dep ut y Chief Engineer, Investigation and Deve lopment Div ision. Department of Public Works, New South

Wales Senior Lecturer, Department of Microbiology, University of Queensland Principal Assistant Engineer, Construction and Opera­

tions. Maritime Services Board of New South Wales Secretary, Municipal Association of Tasmania Acting Assistant Secretary, Land Administration Branch, Department of the Interior, Canberra

Divisional Superintendent, Chemical Section, Nobel (Australasia) Pty Ltd Hon. Secretary, Great Barrier Reef Committee Medical Officer of Health, Department of Health

Services. T as mania


McArthur, Mr A. G. .

McCann, Mr J. E.

McCutchan, Mr A. I.

McDermott, Councillor H. G. McGlynn, Mr J. A.

McKay, Mr R. J.

McMahon, Mr F . E.

McNeill, Councillor J.G. D. Mellor, Mr T . R. Mellors, Mr J. .

Miles, Dr K. R. Millsom, Mrs E. M. Montgomery, Mr D. D. T .

Moohin, Mr M. Moore, Mr P. L. Morey, Mr D. J. Morgan, Dr A. F.

Morrison, Mr R. E.

Munro, Professor C. H .

Nelson, Mr R. S. Nicolson, Mr J. N. W. Noble, Captain B. L. Nolan, Mr G. A.

Norman, Dr N. E.

Nunn, Mr B. N .

Nuske, Mr L. L.

O'Brien, Mr F. B.

O'Driscoll , Mr E. P. D.

O'Rourke, Mr T. P. Overland, Mr M. J.

Parker, Mr C. D.

Parsons, Mr P. E. Paton, Mr J. R. Pearce, Mr T. S.

Pearson, Captain A.

Peel, Mr A. J.

Pels, Mr S.


Officer in Charge, Forest Protection Research, Forestry and Timber Bureau, Department of National Develop­ ment, Canberra Partner, Gutteridge, H askins and D avey, Consulting

Engineers Assistant Co-ordinator-General of Works, Department of National Development, Canberra Warden, Municipality of Strahan, Tasmania

Senior Ana lyst, Chemical L aboratory, Department of Mines, New South Wales Re prese ntative of a group of scientists in Western Aus­ tralia Secretary, Roseville Amateur Swimming Club, New

South Wales Warden, Municipality of Deloraine, Tasmania

Chairman, Swan Hill Waterworks Trust, Victoria Senior Health Inspector, Altona City Council, Victoria Chief Geologist, Department of Mines, South Australia Sarina, Queensland Member, Swan River Conservation Board, Western

Australia Mackay, Queensland Plant Manager, Altona Petrochemical Co. Ltd, Victoria Patron, Bondi Advancement Society, New South Wales

Reg ional Medica l Offi cer for North-West Tasm ania, Department of Hea lth Services Engineer, Mines and Water Resources Branch, Northern Territory Administration Professor of Civil Engineering, University of New South


Secretary. Gee long and Distric t Anglers Cl ub Conara, T as mani a Executive Member, Northern Territory Port Authority Consulting Engineer, Pioneer Shire Council, Mackay,

Queensland Ch ief Chem ical Engineer, Australi an Paper Manufac­ turers Ltd Pollution Control Co-ordinator. Shell group of com­

panies in Australi a Pres ident. Zone 9 United Farmers and Graziers of South Aust rali a

Inspector of Fi sheri es, Geelong. Fis heries and Wildli fe Department. Victori a Ch ief Hydrogeologist, Department of Mines, We stern Australia Chemist, M ariti me Services Board of New South Wales General Secretary, Tas mani an Chambe r of Manufac­


D irector, Melbourne Water Science Institute Ltd and Water Science Laboratories Pty Ltd Assistant C ity Engineer, Hobart City Council T ec hni ca l Director, Standards Association of Australi a Senior Research Office r, Fisheri es and Wildlife D epart-

ment. Victori :1 autical Ad viser. Marine Services Branch, Department of Shipp in g and Transport (Commonwealth ) D irector, Dep artment of Harbours and Marine. Queens­


Deniliquin, New South Wales

Pender, Mr J. W.

Phillips, Mr N. G.

Phillips, Mr W. H. Piesse, Mr R. D. Price, Mr C. J ..

Prickett, Mr R. J. Quinlan, Mr T. .

Richardson, Councillor v.c. Riggert, Mr T. L.

Roberts, Mr J. W. Robertson, Mr A. G.

Rolfe, Mrs H. A.

Ross, Dr A. D.

Rudderham, Mr H. C. Ruff, Councillor 0. A. Russell, Mr G.

Ryan, Dr M.

Sanders, Mr B. S. Saul, Mr C. M.

Sawer, Professor G.

Schaffner, Mr D. G. .

Scroggie, Mr 0. J. M. Seekamp, Mr J. V.

Settle, Mrs C. L.

Shelton, Mr J. P.

Shoobridge, Hon. L. M.

Sikk, Mr E.

Sims, Mr P. C. Sloan, Dr W. N . Smith, Mr E .

Smith, Mr I. H.

Snel son, Mr J. T.

Sockhill, Mr B. D .

Somerset, Sir Henry B.

Speldewinde, Mr F. C.

Stevenson, Mr P. C.

Shire Clerk, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Ingham, Queensland Secretary, Georges River Branch, New South Wales Oyster Farmers Association Home Hill, Queensland Director, Australian Conservation Foundation First Assistant Commissioner (Engineering), National

Capital Development Commission, Canberra Darwin, Northern Territory

Geologist, Bureau of Mineral Resources, Department of National Development, Canberra

Warden, Municipality of Ulverstone, Tasmania

Research Biologist, Department of Fisheries and Faun a, Western Australia Branxton, New South Wales Engineer in Chief, Melbourne and Metropolitan Bo ard

of Works Economist, United Farmers and Woolgrowers Associa­ tion of New South Wales Director of Public Health, Department of Health

Services, Tasmania General Manager, Fremantle Port Authority Member, Sale City Council, Victoria Consultant, Pollution Committee, Mount Lofty Ranges

Association Inc., South Australia Medical Officer of Health for the Australian Capital Territory, Department of Health (Commonwealth) Perth, Western Australia Research Manager, Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Ltd,

Burnie, Tasmania Professor of Law, Research School of Social Science, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University, Canberra Engineering Member, Rivers and Water Supply Com­

mission, Tasmania Consulting Engineer for Water Supply, Sale City Council Member, Salinity Committee, Australian Dried Fruits Association Bacteriologist, Mines and Water Resources Branch,

Northern Territory Administration Secretary (Industrial and Physical Sciences), Common­ wealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Member of the Legislative Council of Tasmania

Crown Counsel , Solicitor-General's Department, T as-mania Devonport, Tasmania . .

District Health Officer, Department of Health, Vtctona First Assistant Secretary, Advisings Branch, Attorney-General's Department, Canberra Ass istant Secretary. Export Inspection Branch. Depart­

ment of Primary Industry, Canberra Pesticides Co-ordinator, Department of Primary Indus-try. Canberra .

Assistant to the Manager, Plane Creek Central Mtll Co. Ltd, Sarin a, Queensland .

Managing Director, Associated Pulp and Paper Mtll s Ltd, Burnie, Tasmania Investigation Engineer, National Capital Development Commiss ion . Canberra Senior Geologist, Department of Mines, Tasmania


Stockdill, Mr D . A.

Strange, Mr S. K.

Suggars, Mr L. A. Summerville, Mr D. C.

Taylor, Mr V. F.

Thistlethwayte, Mr D. K. B.

Thompson, Mr L. J. Thomson, Professor J. M.

Tolley, Mr I. S. Tye, Mr A. J.

Vincent, Mr G. R.

Visbord, Mr E. M. W.

Vogt, Mr W. A.

Walker, Mr G. S. R.

Wallis, Mr G . R.

Walsh, Mr H . T. Walsh, Mr W. P. Ward, Mr P. H .

Warner, Dr R. K.

Watson, Mr I. S.

Way, Mr J. V.

Webb, Professor M. J.

Webster, Mr K. C. .

Wharton, Mr J. C. F .

Wilcox, Mr W. H. Wilson, Mr E. . Wilson, Dr T. C. Winston, Professor D.

Woodruff, Dr P. S.

You!, Mr J. M. M. Youll, Mr W. J.

Young, Mr L. T.


Principal Engineer, Major Development Section, Depart­ ment of Works, Canberra Assistant General Manager, South Australian Citrus Sales Pty Ltd General Manager, Queensland Chamber of Manufactures General Manager, Australian National Power Alcohol

Co. Pty Ltd, Sarin a, Queensland

Engineer, Country Water Supply, Public Works Depart­ ment, Western Australia Research Consultant in Public Health Engineering, Uni­ versity of New South Wales, and Chief Chemist

(Research ), Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drain­ age Board, Sydney Chief Engineer, Col lins Brothers Pty Ltd, Geelong Research Worker, Department of Zoology, University

of Queensland Renmark, South Au st ral ia Hon. Secretary, Council of Progress Associations of Victoria

Chief Agri cultural Officer, Agricultural Branch, Depart­ ment of P ri mary Industry, Canberra Chief Finance Officer, Department of the Treasury, Canberra

Member, Citrus Orga ni sation Committee of South Aus­ tralia

Managing Director, M & T Products Pty Ltd, H aw thorn, Victoria Principal Geologis t, Department of Mines, New South Wales Mount Pleasant, Western Australia President, Northern Territory Conservation Association

Head of the Millipore Division, H. B. Selby & Co. Pty Ltd, Sydney Deputy Chief, Special Projects Division, Australian Atomic Energy Commissi.:m

Senior Engineer, Pl anning and Water Resources Section, Mines and Water Resources Branch, Northern Terri­ tory Administration Shire Engineer, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Ingham,

Queensland Represe nta tive of a group of scientists in Western Australia Claremont, Western Australi a

Deputy Director, Fisheries and Wildlife Department, Victori a Representative of the Enjay Chemical Co., Victoria Townsv ille, Queensland

Exploration Manager, Australian Gulf Oil Co. Professor of Town and Country Planning, University of Syd ney Director-General of Public Health, Department of Public

Health, South Australia

Epping Forest, Tasmania Chief Engineer, Operations and Water Rights, Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission, New South Wales

Representative of the Council of Progress Associations of Victoria


Appendix Ill Statutes and Administrative Authorities

NoTE: These lists are illustrative only of the multiplicity of statutes and authoritiee involved, and should not be taken as inclusive of all that may be coocemccl Descriptive titles only of legislation have been used.


Statutes 1. Balranald Irrigation Act 2. Broken Hill Water and Sewerage Act 3. Country Water Supplies Administration and State

Brick Works (Amendment) Act 4. Dairies Supervision Act 5. Drainage Act 6. Factories and Shops Act

7. Fisheries and Oyster Farms Act 8. Hay Irrigation Act 9. Hunter District Water, Sewerage and Drainage Act 10. Inflammable Liquid Act

11. Irrigation Act 12. Local Government Act 13. Maritime Services Act 14. Meat Industry Act 15. Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Act

16. Mining Act 17 . Navigation Act 18. Noxious Trades Act 19. Pastures Protection Act 20. Police Offences Act 21. Prevention of Oil Pollution in Navigable Waters


22 . Public Health Act 23 . Public Health (Night Soil Removal) Act 24. Public Works Act 25 . Pure F ood Act 26. Rivers and Foreshores Improvement Act

27. Sydney Harbour Trust Act 28. Warragamba Catchment Area Cemeteries Act 29. Water Act 30. Wentworth Irrigation Act

Administrative Authorities 1. Department of Agriculture 2. Balranald Irrigation Trust 3. Board of Health 4. Forestry Commission of New South Wales

5. H ay Irrigation Trust 6. Hunter District Water Board 7. Department of Lands 8. Local government authorities throughout the


9. Ma ritime Services Board of New South Wales 10. Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board I I. Department of Mines 12. Port of Newcastle Advisory Committee

13. Department of Public Health 14. Department of Public Works 15. Department of Railways


16. Sydney Harbour Trust 17. Wardens' Courts 18. Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission 19. Wentworth Irrigation Trust


Statutes 1. Dandenong Valley Authority Act 2. Drainage Areas Act 3. Drainage of Land Act 4. Extractive Industries Act 5. Fisheries Act

6. Geelong Harbour Trust Act 7. Geelong Waterworks and Sewerage Act 8. Groundwater Act 9. Harbour Boards Act 10. Health Act (and Stream Pollution Regulations) 11. Latrobe Valley Act 12. Litter Act 13. Local Government Act

14. Marine Act 15. Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works Act 16. Melbourne Harbour Trust Act 17. Mildura Irrigation and Water Trusts Act 18. Mines Act 19. Navigable Waters (Oil Pollution) (Amendment)


20. Petroleum Act 21. Police Offences Act 22. River Improvement Act 23. Sewerage Districts Act 24. Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act 25. Town and Country Planning Act 26. Water Act 27. West Moorabool Water Board Act

Administrative Authorities 1. Ballarat Water Commission 2. Board of Land and Works 3. Buildings Regulations Committee 4. Commercial Fisheries Council 5. Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey 6. Commission of Public Health

7. Dandenong Valley Authority 8. Department of Health 9. Department of Lands 10. Department of Mines 11. First Mildura Irrigation Trust

12. Fisheries and Wildlife Department 13. Geelong Harbour Trust 14. Geelong Waterworks and Sewerage Trust 15. Land Utilisation Advisory Council 16. Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage Board

17. Local government authorities throughout the State 18. Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works 19. Melbourne Harbour Trust Commission 20. Mildura Urban Water Trust 21. River Improvement Authority 22. Sewerage authorities throughout the State 23. Soil Conservation Authority


24. State Rivers and Water Supply Commission 25. Town and Country Planning Board 26. Waterworks trusts throughout the State


Statutes l. Brisbane Drainage Act 2. Central Queensland Coal Associates Agreement Act 3. City of Brisbane Act

4. Drainage of Mines Act 5. Fisheries Act 6. Harbours Act 7. Health Act

8. Irrigation and Water Supply Commission Act 9. Local Government Act 10. Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Act 11. Mining Act 12. Navigation Act 13 . Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act

14. Pollution of Waters by Oil Act 15. Queensland Marine Act 16. Radioactive Substances Act 17 . Sewerage, Water Supply and Gasfitting Act 18. Water Act 19. Water Authorities Act

Administrative A urh orities I. Department of the Co-ordinator-General of Public Works 2. Harbour boards throughout the State

3. Department of Harbours and Marine 4. Department of Health 5. Irrigation and Water Supply Commission 6. Local government authorities throughout the


7. Department of Local Government 8. Department of Mines


Statutes 1. Control of Waters Act 2. Explosives Act 3. Fisheries Act 4. Harbours Act 5. Health Act

6. Local Government Act 7. Planning and Development Act 8. Police Offences Act 9. Prevention of Pollution of Waters by Oil Act 10. Soil Conservation Act II. Underground Waters Preservation Act 12. Waterworks Act

Administrative Authorities I. Department of Marine and Harbours 2. Department of Mines 3. Department of Public Health 4. Engineering and Water Supply Department

5. Local government authorities throughout the State (142)



6. Local Government Office 7. State Advisory Committee on Water Supplies Examinations 8. Underground Waters Advisory Committee 9. Underground Waters Appeal Board 10. Woods and Forests Department



1. Country Areas Water Supply Act 2. Country Towns Sewerage Act 3. Fisheries Act 4. Fremantle Port Authority Act 5. Health Act 6. I etties Act

7. Land Drainage Act 8. Local Government Act 9. Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drain­ age Act 10. Municipal Water Supply Preservation Act

11. Ord River Dam Catchment Area (Straying Cattle) Act 12. Petroleum Pipelines Act 13. Prevention of Pollution of Waters by Oil Act

14. Rights in Water and Irrigation Act 15 . Shipping and Pilotage Act 16. Swan River Conservation Act 17. Water Boards Act 18. Western Australian Marine Act

Administrative Authorities 1. Department of Agriculture 2. Department of Fisheries and Fauna 3. Boards of Health (local) 4. Mines Department 5. Department of Public Health

6. Harbour and Light Department 7. Local government authorities throughout the State 8. Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage and Drain­

age Board

9. Port authorities (Albany, Bunbury, Esperance, Fremantle, Geraldton) 10. Public Works Department 11. Purity of Water Committee 12. Rivers and Waters Technical Advisory Com­


13. Swan River Conservation Board



1. Associated Pulp and Pape r Mills Act 2. Australian Titan Products Act 3. Closer Settlement Act 4. Drainage Act 5. Forestry Act 6. Fisheries Act 7. Hobart Corporation Act 8. Inflammable Liquids Act 9. Launceston Corporation Act 10. Local Government Act 11. Marine Act


12. Meat Industry Act 13. Milk Act 14. Mining Act 15. Mount Read and Rosebery Ltd Leases Act 16. Noxious Weeds Act

17. Oil Pollution Act 18. Police Offences Act 19. Public Health Act 20. Radioactive Substances Act 21. Rivers Pollution Act 22. Sewers and Drains Act 23. Underground Water Act 24. Water Act 25 . Water Acts (concerning 26 local governing

bodies responsible for implementation) 26. Waterworks Clauses Act

Administrative Authorities I. Department of Agriculture 2. Closer Settlement Board 3. Drainage Trusts

4. Fisheries Branch (Department of Agriculture) 5. Forestry Commission 6. H arbour trusts 7. Department of Health Services 8. Hobart Corporation

9. Inland Fisheries Commission 10. Launceston Corporation II . Loca l government authorities throughout the State 12. Marine boards 13. D epartment of Mines 14. Port of Launceston Authority 15 . Rivers and Water Supply Commission 16. Underground Waters Contamination Committee


Statutes I. Beaches, Fishing Grounds and Sea Routes Pro­ tection Act 2. Navigation Act and the Navigation (Deck Cargo

and Live Stock) Regulations made under this Act 3. Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 4. Pollution of the Sea by Oil Act 5. Seat of Government Acceptance Act

Administrative Authorities I. Department of Health 2. Department of the Interior 3. National Capital Development Commission 4. Department of National Development 5. Department of Primary Industry 6. Department of Shipping and Transport

7. Department of Works


Ordinances I. Careless Use of Fire Ordinance 2. Cotter River Ordinance 3. Fishing Ordinance 4. Lake Burley Griffin Ordinance



5. Mining Ordinance 6. Public Health Ordinance 7. Queanbeyan Lease Ordinance 8. Rabbit Destruction Ordinance 9. Soil Conservation Ordinance I 0. Timber Protection Ordinance II. Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance Administrative Authorities

I. Bush Fire Council 2. Department of Health 3. Department of the Interior 4. National Capital Development Commission 5. Department of National Development 6. Department of Primary Industry 7. Department of Works


Ordinances 1. Control of Waters Ordinance 2. D airies Supervision Ordinance 3. Fisheries Ordinance 4. Local Government Ordinance 5. Mineral Oil and Coal Ordinance 6. Mining Ordinance 7. Petroleum Prospecting and Mining Ordinance 8. Police and Police Offences Ordinance 9. Prevention of Pollutio n of Waters by Oil


10. Public Health Ordinance 11. Slaughtering Ordinance 12. Water and Electricity Restrictions Ordinance 13 . Water Supplies Development Ordinance 14. Wildlife Conservation and Control Ordinance Administrative Authorities

1. Animal Industry and Agriculture Branch

(formerly Primary Industries Branch) 2. Department of Health (Commonwealth) 3. Local Government and Community Services Branch

4. Mines and Water Resources Branch 5. Northern Territory Port Authority 6. Primary Industries Branch 7. Department of Works (Commonwealth)


Appendix ·JV Swan River Conservation Board


(1) A person nominated by the Minister shall be appointed to the office of Chairman of the Board.

(2) The occupants of the eighteen other offices of members of the Board shall be-(a) two persons, (i) of whom one shall be the senior qualified

civil engineer whose services as such are employed or engaged by the Council of the City of Perth; and (ii) of whom one shall be nominated by the

Council of the City of Perth; to represent on the Board the interests of that Council; (b) five persons, all of whom shall be nominated

by the body known as the Local Government Association of Western Australi a, to represent on the Board the interests of local authorities; (ba) a person who is a biologist nominated by the

Minister for Fisheries and Fauna; (c) one person who shall be nominated by the

committee appointed under the National Fitness Act, 1945, and known as the Associated Sporting Committee, to represent persons who use the waters, or foreshores, or both, for the purposes of recreation; and (d) a member of the W.A. Aquatic Council ; (e) a nominee of the Chamber of Manufactures,

W.A., Inc.;

(f) seven persons, each of whom shall be nomin­ ated by the respective Ministers for the time being controlling the administration of the respective establishments of the State which are mentioned in the respective subparagraphs of

this paragraph, and which are concerned with works or activities, or both, in respect of the whole or part of the waters or of the fore­

shores, or of both, to represent the respective establishments on the Board, and of whom

(i) one shall be a drainage and sewerage

engineer to represent the Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage, and Drainage Department on the Board; (ii) one shall be a qualified medical prac­

titioner or a qualified health inspector to represent the Public Health Department on the Board; ( iii) one shall be a representative on the

Board of the Public Works Department and shall be attached to the Harbours and Rivers Branch of that Department; (iv) one shall be a representative on the Board

of the Harbour and Light Department;

37 /



(v) one shall be a on the Board

of the Government Chemical Labora­ tories; (vi) one shall be a representative on the Board of the Lands and Surveys Department;


(vii) one shall be a representative on the Board of the Town Planning Board.

Appendix V Glossary of Technical Terms

Aerobic and Anaerobic


Biodegradable and





E. coli





Polishing ponds





Treatment Secondary tiary)

(Primary, and Ter-

Descriptive of a condition in which free oxygen is present or not present, respectively. A water-bearing stratum.

Descriptive of organic pollutants which, respec­ tively, can or cannot be broken down by con­ ventional biological treatment processes. Abbreviation for biochemical oxygen demand ,

which is a measure of the amount of oxygen absorbed in the treatment of waste water.

A group of bacteria foreign to water, wh ic h includes not only organisms originating in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals but also organisms from soil or vegetation. Abbreviation for cubic feet per second. One

cusec is equivalent to 538,000 gallons per day, or 374 gallons per minute.

Abbreviation for Escherichia coli, a member of the coliform group which is of undoubted faecal origin. Both the coliform group of bacteria and E. co li

are readily detectable by simple laboratory techniques and have been adopted as

indicators of pollution. The plural form of 'enterococcus', which is also known as Streptococcus faecalis and is an organism some species of which are highl y

pathogenic and are responsible for severe and fa tal illnesses.

The mechanical process in which, by means of gentle motion, precipitation is encouraged.

Abbreviation for miiJilitre, or a thousandth part of a litre.

The abbreviation for the measurement used ifl a convenient method of expressing small differences in the acidity or alkalinity of a nearly neutral solution. A neutral solution has

a pH of 7. The pH decreases as the acidity increases, and increases as the liquid becomes more alkaline. Also known as oxidation ponds or lagoons. They

result in the biological stabilisation of the waste water and may produce an effluent that will not require further dilution for its

disposal. Abbreviation for parts per million by weight.

The waste conveyed in a sewer. Municipal sew­ age generally includes both domestic and industrial wastes. The complex of structures for the conveyance

of sewage. Non-faecal domestic waste water.

Three stages of treatment of water which

progressively improve its quaht j.



(References are to page numbers. 'R' denotes 'recommendation'.) Beaches, pollution by sewage, 37, 72, 139 Canada, 150-3

Conservation: Conservationists, attitudes, 92 Marine life, 19, 24, 31, 72, 103 Wildlife, 18-9, 72

Consti tutional aspects, xiv, 142-3 Data lacking, 94, 184 Detergents, 19, 22-4, 69 Economics, xiii, 83-4, 96-120, 184 Education :

Professional training, xiv, 93-4, 184, 188R, 190R Public, xiv, 94, 159-60, 184-5,

188R, 190R Emotional attitudes, 92 Enforcement, xiv, 139-40, 185 Erosion, 25, 30-1 Europe, Council of, 8, 162-3, 169

Eutrophication, 25-6 Evaporation, 5 Expertise lacking, 93 Fertilisers, 25-6

F isheries, 37-8, 103, 124, 135

Forestry, 30-1 Finance : Aid, 186, 189R Competing demands, 140-1

Grants, 118-9, 146 Finland, 161

France, 161-2

German Republic, Federal, 158-9

Glossa ry of technical terms, Appendix v

Great Barrier Reef, 48 -9

Hydrography, currents prevailing in oceans round the Australian coast­ line, 19

H ydrologi cal cycle, 98

Industriali sati on, 11- 3. 101 , 170-3 Industry: Agreements fo r discharge of

effluent, 13 3 Costs of installing treatment pl ant. 99


Government assistance, 112-9 Interregional competition, 111 New, establishment, xiv, 185 Responsibilities and attitude, 80-1,

92-3 Waste treatment, expenditure as a cost of production, 107, 114 International agencies generally, 167-


Inter-Parliamentary Union, 168-9 Israel, 165-7 Japan, 163-5 Legislation:

Australian Capital Territory, 135-6 Canada, 150-3 Commonwealth, 134-5 Consolidation of State legislation,

138-9 Co-ordination, 186 Exemptions extended to govern­ ment instrumentalities, 139 Fragmentation, 121, 122, 125, 127,

129-30, 134, 135, 138, 1::9 France, 161-2 General, 121-2 Israel, 166 Japan, 163-5

Netherlands, 162 New South Wales, 122-5, 141 Northern Territory, 136-7 Overriding provisions, 133, 136,


Protection specifically given to certain interests, 139 Queensland, 127-30 South Africa, 161 South Australia, 130-1 Tasma ni a, 132-4, 141 Territories generall y, 137, 189R

United Kingdom, 154-6 United States of America, 145-8 Victoria, 125-7, 141 Western Australia, 131-2 Local government authorities :

Financing of sewerage works, 118-9, 133 Responsibilities and attitudes, 64- 5, 80, 128, 129, 13 9-40 Mu rray River:

Catchment, 87 Pels scheme, 87-8, 99 Salinity problem, 27, 49-50, 85-90, 179 Waters, distribution, 49, 85-6 ·National Water Commiss ion, 188-

90R Netherlands, 162

New Zealand, 156-8 Pesticides and herbicides, 24-5, 71 , 102-3, 160 Planning, town and industrial, 178

Pollution: Administrative responsibility­ Canada, 150-3 Divided, xiii, xiv, 121-2, 123-5,

127, 129-30, 135, 137, 138, 139-41 , 183, 185 France, 161-2 Japan, 165

Netherlands, 162 New Zealand, 156-8 Official attitudes, 3 5 South Africa, 161 United Kingdom, 154-5 United States of America, 147-


Australian Capital Territory, 67-7 0 Awareness of the problem lacking, 90-2, 184

Bankstown municipality, 13-4 Bunbury, 58-9 Communities downstream affected , 65, 80 Control-

Advisory body, xvR, 189R Arbitration of disputes, 187 Choices, 176-9 Co-ordination, xiv, 185, 186, 187

National body, xiv, xvR, 143 , 186, 188-90R N ational policy, xiv, xvR, 186-7 , 188R

Recent developments in the

States, 141-2 Dandenong Creek, 40 Definition, 11 Environmental threat, xiii , 7-9, 18 3 Finniss River, 73

Georges River, 14, 37-8 Industrialisation, effects, 11-3, 10 I, 17 0-3 International problem, 7-8, 183

La ke Burley Griffin, 68-9 Latrobe Valley, 41 Molonglo River, 28-9 , 68-9 1urray River, 27, 49-50

New South Wales, 35-9 Northern Territory, 70-3 Problems, major, xii i, 76-95 , 183 Queensland, 42-9

Responsibility of community, 184 Sea waters, 37, 53 , 57, 58-9 Severity in A ustralia, xiii, 33 -5 Sources-

Bacteria, 17 Chemicals, 21-2, 24-5 Detergents, 19, 22-5, 69 Erosion, 25, 62

Fertilisers, 25-6 Food processing industries, 47, 58, 65 General, 39-40 Industrial wastes, xiii, 16, 21- 2.

38-9, 41, 45-7, 50, 57-9, 65-6, 73, 80-2, 107, 128, 129 Meat industry, 47, 65-6 Mineral treatment plants, 58-9 Mining wastes, 27-9, 62-4, 68,

73 , 80, 123, 129, 133-4 Oil spillages, 17-2 1, 47 -8, 61 , 102, 132, 134-5 Organic wastes, 16

Paper mills, 66 Pesticides and herbicides, 24-5, 71, 102-3

Petroleum oils and by-prod ucts. 17-21, 47-8, 61, 102, 132 .

134-5 Radioactive materials, 29- 30 Salinity, xiii, 26-7, 49-50, 85 -90 Septic tank effluent, 44-5, 50, 72 ,


Sewage, xiii, 16, 35-8, 43-4, 50, 53 , 64-5, 68-9, 72, 79, 107 -8 , 129, 140 Sugar industry, 46-7 Sullage, 40 South Australia, 49-54

Streams generally, 39, 40 Swan River, 58-61 Sydney Harbour, 39 Tasmania, 61-7

Thermal, 31 Underground waters, 17, 69-70 Urbanisation, effects, 11-6, 70, 101 , 173 Victoria, 39-42 Western Australia, 54-6 1 Population distribution, density and

growth, 11, 33 , 41 , 43, 49, 54, 61, 70, 170-3 Ra infa ll distribution, 3, 4, 30, 43 , 44, 50, 62, 67, 70-1 Recre ation, 6, 14, 68-9, 103-4, 106,

109, 173 -4, 177, 178 Research, 163 , 177, 184, 188R, !90 R River basin authorities, 113, 154-6, 158 -9, 162 Ruhr Valley associations, 158-9

Salinity, 26-7, 49, 54-5, 85-90, 99, 179 Senate Select Committee : Conclusions-­

Complete, 183-7 Summary, xiii-xiv Establis hment and inquiry, ix-xii , Appendixes I, ll

Recommendations-Complete, 188-90 Summary, :'l.V


Sewerage: Bankstown municipality, 14 Brisbane, 43, 79 Canberra, 69 Costs, 99 Country schemes, 43, 44, 50, 57, 72 Darwin, 72 Financing by loans or grants, 118-9

General, 16, 76-9 Hobart, 65, 80 Launceston, 65, 80 Melbourne, 41-2, 77 Ocean outfalls, 37, 53, 57, 72 Perth, 56-7, 77 Queensland generally, 43 Ruhr Valley, 159 Sydney, 36-8, 77 Shipping:

Garbage and refuse, 132, 134 Oil spillages, 17-21, 47, 61, 102, 132, 134, 135 Tanker accidents, 17-21 , 47, 102,


Solid wastes, disposal, 110

South Africa, 160-1 Subsidies, Ill, 113-4

Sweden, 159-60

Taxation: Concessions, 52, 111-2, 114-9, 164 Disposal tax, 1 13


United Kingdom, 153-6 United States of America, 145-50 Urbanisation, 11-6, 70, 101, 170-3 Water:

Conservation, 104-6 Desalination, 167 Quality-Assessment, 188R, 189R

Linked with quantity, 105 Requirements for different uses, 112-3 Standards, 68-9, 82-5, Ill, 112-

3, 146, 158, 179 Reclamation and re-use, 57-8, 79, 101, 105, 160, 167, 177, 178 Resources, xiii, 3-7, 36, 183, 188R Run-off for Australia generally, 3,


Supplies-Adelaide, 50-1 Brisbane, 43-4 Canberra, 67, 178-9 Catchments, 50-2, 67, 73, 126,

178-9 Country, 43, 57 Darwin, 72-3 Katherine, 73 Perth, 57 Underground, 4, 6, 7, 8, 53, 56,

69-70, 71, 72, 73, 165-7 West Germany, 158-9