Rain likely cause of elevated bacteria at SW weir

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Drakesbrook Weir is a popular picnic and swimming spot in the summer months.
Camera IconDrakesbrook Weir is a popular picnic and swimming spot in the summer months. Credit: Supplied

The Waroona Shire Council has closed Drakesbrook Weir for recreational use after detecting elevated levels of bacteria.

According to the WA Department of Health, routine testing by the council first detected elevated levels of e.coli and enterococci bacteria in the water on April 23.

The results of samples were in excess of the department’s primary contact levels relating to swimming and secondary contact levels relating to canoeing and fishing, which prompted the health warnings.

The bacteria is commonly found in faecal matter.

Following protocol, the council advised the department of the contamination which indicated bacteria above the level deemed acceptable for recreational contact.

The department then directed the council to erect warning signs and close the weir, which was done on May 1.

Water Corporation South West regional manager John Janssen said the contamination was detected during routine water testing on behalf of the Water Corporation.

“The Shire of Waroona undertakes regular sampling at Drakesbrook Weir to ensure it is safe for recreational use,” Mr Janssen said.

“The Shire of Waroona continues to take water quality samples, which will be provided to the Department of Heath to determine when it is safe to re-open the weir for recreation.”

The council is now conducting weekly tests to determine when the bacteria returns to safe levels.

Advice from the department indicates pollutants from streets, gardens and farms could enter waterways after heavy rainfall causing the bacteria.

“Given the weir is in an agricultural catchment, the elevated readings are likely to be the result of run-off from nearby farms,” a department spokesman said.

“The Shire of Waroona is continuing to monitor water quality in consultation with the Department of Health.”

The spokesman said high bacterial levels could increase the chance of developing skin infections or gastrointestinal or respiratory illness.

It also advised that any fish caught from the weir should be washed and cooked well.

Updates will be available on the Waroona Shire Council’s website indicating when the weir is again safe to use.

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