Contaminants in our waterways

Contaminants are widespread in our waterways and are often most concentrated in the vicinity of industry, urbanisation and agriculture.
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Contaminants are substances that are either present in an environment where they do not belong or are present at levels that have the potential to harm human or environmental health. Contaminants can be natural in origin, such as some metals, or can be man-made.

Some examples of contaminants that may be found in our waterways include:

  • metals
  • pesticides
  • petroleum by-products
  • anti-fouling paints
  • bacteria and
  • nutrients.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation assesses the concentrations and types of contaminants in a variety of water bodies including river and estuary systems, stormwater drains and groundwater. We manage this through a range of water quality, sediment quality and ecotoxicological techniques.

Understanding the types and concentrations of contaminants both within and entering our waterways helps us to assess river and estuarine health and determine management solutions for impacts such as algal blooms and fish kill events.

Reporting pollution

To report pollution or pollution risk to rivers, call our Pollution Watch 24 hour hotline on 1300 784 782 or submit an online report.