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Water Catchment

Update December 2015:

The Department of Water has release a map detailing the location of the thirteen dams that have been de-proclaimed as drinking water source protection areas.  

These dams have had the restrictions on recreation lifted, opening up trails in the surrounding areas for legal riding (registered bikes / licensed riders only).  

A study commissioned by the Department of Sport and Recreation has identified some of these areas for development of additional riding opportunities and we have begun the process of investigating the potential.
The map is available for download from the RTRA web site. 

Update September 2010:

The Parliamentary Committee released its report and recommendations.

Bottom line is no relaxing of the current restrictions on recreation within water source protection areas, instead a strengthening of enforcement and a big increase in fines.

RTRA will produce an analysis and response to the Committee's report and will notify members when available.


P1, P2, RPZ, PDWSAs. This is the language of Public Drinking Water Source protection - commonly known as Water Catchment Areas.

There is current tension around the extent to which recreation activities (including trail bike riding) need to be excluded from areas where water makes its way into our drinking water dams.

The Department of Water advocates a 'multiple barrier' approach, which basically means the more you can do to avoid any contamination before the water hits the dams the less you need to treat it before it is consumed. The policy is explained and codified in the Department's Statewide Policy 13 - Policy and Guidelines for Recreation within Public Drinking Water Source Areas on Crown Land.

RTRA and the WA Recreation Sports and Tourism Alliance (WARSTA) believes that this approach needs to be balanced against the social, economic and health benefits of recreation in water catchment areas. Recreation near - and even on - drinking water sources occurs in other states of Australia and around the world. The current WA policy is avoiding risk, rather than managing risk.

From a trail bike riding perspective, the current policy locks riders out of a huge area of the best terrain in WA - especially near the metropolitan area.

After a couple of false starts, persistent lobbying by WARSTA and other stakeholders including the Department of Sport and Recreation has now resulted in a Parliamentary Enquiry being launched. The fact that trail bikes were specifically mentioned in the announcement of the review reflects the impact that RTRA has had in lobbying for trail bikes to be considered along with other foms of recreation.

The enquiry explored international best practice and genuinely consider risk management alternatives.

RTRA Objectives:

  1. To ensure that the review of Water Management adequately considers the needs of stakeholders including trail bike riders and residents of areas impacted by the exclusion from Catchment areas.
  2. To ensure that the levels of turbidity that are claimed to be the result of trail bike riding are properly quantified.
  3. To ensure that a genuine approach to creative problem solving is employed to identify control strategies as an alternative to exclusion.
  4. To ensure that the Review arrives at a policy that will allow conditional access to some areas that are currently excluded while safeguarding the quality of drinking water within risk levels that are deemed acceptable to the community and in line with international best practice.


Policy Review Project launched May 2008
Review stalled by State Elections - September 2008
Parliamentary Review announced - September 2009
RTRA makes its submission for the Parliamentary Review - December 2009
RTRA President Steve Pretzel appears before the Parliamentary enquiry to present our argument - March 2010

Syme and Nancarrow Survey into Public Perception of [Water] Source Protection and its Relationship to Recreation and Water Treatment recommends considering ORV use in outer catchment areas - April 2010

Parliamentary Committee releases its report - September 2010

Thirteen dams de-proclaimed as public drinking water source protection areas (PDWSPAs) - 2015

Map of de-proclaimed dams now available. 

Latest News

Big Increases in Water Catchment Fines 25-Feb-2012

One of the implications of the Department of Water's newly released Policy 13 on recreational access..

RTRA Engaged in planning for new Recreation Areas 25-Feb-2012

If more enforcement and bigger fines are the stick, the carrot is an offer from the Department of Wa..

Water Corp Says Water Doesn't Run into Dams 16-Dec-2011

It's been acknowledged by the Department of Water before, but never so articulately or publicly...

Water Catchment - No to Access, Yes to Bigger Fines 01-Oct-2010

The long-awaited Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into recreation in water catchment areas has re..

Water research says 'Consider off-road activities in outer catchments' 15-Jun-2010

Research commissioned by the Department of Water has supported the RTRA position that managed us..

RTRA Water Submission now a Public Document 09-May-2010

We are finally allowed to publicly release the RTRA submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Rec..

Water Catchment Parliamentary Enquiry 12-Apr-2010

RTRA President Steve Pretzel and MWA Executive Director Rick Gill appeared before the Parliamentary ..

RTRA to Appear at Water Catchment Hearing 25-Mar-2010

RTRA President Steve Pretzel and MWA Executive Director Rick Gill have been invited to appear before..

Recreation in Water Catchment - Parliamentary Enquiry 01-Sep-2009

Following a significant amount of lobbying, the State Government in September announced a Parliament..

Southern Darling Region Recreation Strategy 22-Jun-2009

A project of great significance for trail bike riders is underway. Prompted by the decision of the f..