International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
Catchment: An Answer to the Water Scarcity of the Next Millennium."
Petrolina, Brazil - July 1999
Section 12: Posters
Who drinks what: Potable Water Usage in South Australia
Jane S Heyworth
Flinders University of South Australia
Environmental Health Branch,
Department of Human Services
PO Box 6, Rundle Mall
Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
Recent studies which have implicated mains supply water as a
source of gastroenteritis (Paymentet al, 1991; 1997), have ramifications for
water supplies in Australia. This is particularly so for those water supplies
in rural or semi -rural communities where the source water is often of a lower
quality and its treatment limited.
Rainwater collected and stored in tanks on domestic premises
is an important source of potable water in South Australia. However knowledge
about the risk to health from drinking tank rainwater is limited. Potential
sources of contamination include faecal material from birds, rodents, possums
and other animals; accumulated fallout from air pollutants; breakdown products
from roofing material, and organic debris from overhanging trees. The focus of
this study is the microbiological quality. A number studies of tank rainwater
have indicated the water quality to be below guideline values for indicator
organisms (Fuller et al. 1981; Thomas and Greene 1993; Edwards 1994).
Cryptosporidium and Giardia cysts have been detected in tank rainwater in the
Virgin Islands (Crabtree et al, 1996). Tank rainwater has also been implicated
as a cause of an outbreak of gastroenteritis in Trinidad (Koplan et al 1978).
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