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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 3

I Background

II Early European Settlements

III Assessment Of Available Water Resources

IV Water Supplies For Goldmining Development

V Irrigation Development

VI Farm And Stock Water Supplies

VII Urban Water Supplies

VIII Wastewater Management And Treatment

IX Water Quality Management

X Limnological And Water Quality Research
i Drinking water quality
ii Irrigation and Stock Waters
iii Descriptive phase research
iv System understanding phase

XI New Techniques In Water Resource Planning And Management

XII Legislation

XIII Conclusion

XIV List Of Abbreviations

XV Acknowledgements

XVI Plantations-high Productivity Resources



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Limnological And Water Quality Research

Limnology is defined here as the scientific study of inland waters, including streams, lakes, wetlands and reservoirs. One important aspect of this science is that of water quality research, generally assessed in terms of the use to be made of the water resource. A short summary of the most significant facets of research in this field is therefore essential in this history of technological development in the water industry in Australia.

The early development of water resources was dominated by engineering and economic considerations, and concern for the quality of the resource has emerged only in recent years. National water research bodies of the type common in other countries were not to be found in Australia. Almost all the limnological research has been conducted by tertiary education institutions.

The two-hundred year period to 1988 can be divided into three phases for the purpose of this section -

  1. 1788-1900 -Virtually no water quality research was done in Australia. This was a period dominated by settlement and by increasing pollution of the major urban streams. One example from early Sydney has already been given in this chapter. A second, from Melbourne in 1852, is equally revealing -

    The most revolting sights which I have ever seen here are the slaughter-houses, which are placed directly on the (Yarra) riverside . . . On the other side, and half in the river, are equal heaps of entrails and garbage which other swine are rending. Altogether, the filth, the blood, the piles of heads of cattle . . . are one of the most shocking and disgusting scenes that can be conceived.
  2. 1900-1970 -This can be termed the descriptive phase. Limited water quality research in this period was devoted to describing the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of Australian streams and reservoirs.
  3. 1970 to date -This period has seen a considerable increase in the amount and the scope of limnological and water quality research. This can be called the system understanding phase. The initial impetus in this phase came from the Senate Select Committee Report on Water Pollution in Australia (1970) and the formation by the Australian Water Resources Council of a Technical Committee on Water Quality at about the same time.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Water Resources Council; Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution in Australia. Report

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© 1988 Print Edition page 184, Online Edition 2000
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