ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Securing Adequate Safe Domestic Water for Regional Australia (2016-17)


CSU, $50,000


Professor Max Finlayson (Project leader CSU Team), Adjunct Professor Peter Waterman (Interim Project Coordinator), Michael Kitzelmann (CEO Etheridge Shire Council and Challenge Champion),  Kate Charters (Chair Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) Foundation.


This collaborate research project is the result of a SEGRA Challenge for 2015-2016 whereby participants at the SEGRA Conference, held at CSU's Bathurst campus in November 2015, identified the need for adequate and pathogen free domestic water for rural and remote regional Australia where residents are not protected by any environmental health regulations.

Queensland regions mapPartners in the Queensland-focussed project include the SEGRA Foundation, Murray Darling Association, the Queensland Department of Health, Etheridge Shire Council, the Queensland Murray Darling Committee (a NRM group), and Conservation Volunteers (Australia). Collaborating universities will include Queensland University of Technology, University of the Sunshine Coast, University of Southern Queensland, University of New England, and Southern Cross University. Senior scientists from the CSIRO Land and Water Flagship are also most supportive of the initiative.

Work on the first stage of the project began in April, 2016, to be completed in December, 2016.

The first stage of the project involves pilot rural and remote regions water quality surveys in the Gulf Region of Far North Queensland (Etheridge Shire) and the Darling Basin in southern Queensland. The researchers optimised the collaboration to undertake water quality sampling in Etheridge Shire in parallel with the shire's dog baiting program. In May 175 water samples and 89 questionnaires were collected from 152 properties throughout the shire which covers 40,000 sq kms with a population of under a 1000. Sampling was done by Queensland Health and CSU researchers have analysed the data. Planning for water quality sampling and questionnaire surveys in the Darling Basin began in August, 2016.

The project, with the overarching aim of supporting the provision of adequate safe drinking water supplies for people in rural and remote regional Queensland, has four objectives. They are:

  • Document community attitudes, understanding and behaviour with respect to the provision of adequate secure and safe domestic water supplies
  • Provide broad quantitative and qualitative information on water quality conditions and levels of water treatment being used by Local Government Authorities (LGAs) to meet statutory water planning and service requirements
  • Document the status of water quality conditions and water treatment provisions for remote settlements and isolated properties in the subject catchment areas
  • Propose long term measures to ensure that domestic water supplies for communities and individual homesteads are adequate and safe


Products from the project will include:

  • Collaborative Project Working Papers that collate the results and analysis of the water quality sampling and questionnaire surveys
  • Presentations and participation at conferences, seminars and forums
  • ILWS facilitated community Workshop and Round Table activities on the topic Adequate, Secure and Safe Domestic Water for Rural and Remote Regions
  • Published papers in social science, natural science and environmental and population health journals


Expected outcomes of this project are:

  • Measureable improvement in the quality of water being used for domestic purposes
  • Better informed community conversations on domestic water supply provision
  • Less sickness from the consumption of unsafe water
  • LGAs are better resourced to meet their statutory requirements in the provision of domestic water supplies
  • Increased investment in sustainable technology that ensures safe domestic water supplies


Adjunct Professor Peter Waterman Email:

Mobile: 0418 628431

August 2016