Environmental

There are many environmental issues that our contractors may encounter when doing work for us, including some which occur as a result of an incident.

If at any point an incident or near miss does occur – no matter how minor you think it is – you must inform your Water Corporation representative immediately. If they are not available, call us on 1300 483 246.

The most common environmental issues that our contractors encounter are as follows:

You need to consider any possible impact on nearby European or Indigenous cultural heritage sites. This can include watercourses, early European buildings, and even shipwrecks.

Even if a site doesn't look special to you, it may hold great significance to another group in the community. If there are known cultural heritage issues at a site, we have personnel trained to evaluate such issues and ensure they are handled appropriately. If you encounter such an issue as a contractor, always stop and ask your Water Corporation Representative for advice on how to proceed.

Contamination of soil and water can easily result from pollution in liquids extracted from dewatering at excavations, and environmental incidents such as fuel or chemical spills. You need to ensure potential contaminants are stored properly so that if spills do occur they are contained appropriately and there is no discharge directly into the environment.

Where a discharge is unavoidable, such as in the case of dewatering liquids, contaminants should be treated and neutralised before reaching the environment. You will also need to inform your Water Corporation Representative of any discharges or spills.

Any work involving heavy equipment or powered tools can create dust and noise. This can be an environmental issue in both residential and non-residential areas, because it can cause complaints from local residents, and disturb local fauna. Too much dust can also damage crops.

You can manage dust by use of dust suppression techniques such as water carts, as well as limiting earthworks or clearing during dry or windy conditions. To minimise noise issues, use silenced equipment where possible, notify residents in advance, and then limit work to specific times of the day.

Over-clearing of native vegetation by contractors is a very serious environmental issue. Native vegetation includes all species of water-based or land-based indigenous plants, and can even include dead vegetation unless exempted by regulations.

Actions that disturb native plants, even if it's only one plant, require approval permits, especially in sensitive areas such as wetlands.  You need to arrange these permits before, not after you clear the vegetation. Failure to comply with regulations in this matter can result in heavy financial penalties. If you are in any doubt about whether you can clear native vegetation, ask your Water Corporation Representative before you touch it.

Dieback is caused by the spread of a soil borne root fungus called Phytophthera Cinnamomi. This disease has destroyed large areas of native vegetation in Western Australia, and has been called a "biological bulldozer".

The fungus is easily spread from one infected area to another by vehicles and other human activity. Unfortunately, the disease cannot be cured, only controlled and contained by means of:

  • Quarantining infected areas to limit non-essential entry;
  • Hygienic practices to decontaminate personnel and vehicles; and
  • Minimising soil disturbance, especially during wet months of the year

Special hygiene practices apply in areas affected by or protected from dieback. If you are required to work in, or travel through, such an area, check with your Water Corporation Representative for requirements well prior to commencing work.

Weeds are also a huge threat to native vegetation. These introduced plant species can sometimes appear colourful and attractive, but the truth is they damage the delicate balance of environmental biodiversity. 

To prevent the spread of weeds, be sure to travel only on designated access roads, and keep vehicles or equipment within the site boundaries at all times. If you are unsure of how to best access a site or asset, contact your Water Corporation Representative.

When working at a site, always remember to dispose of waste products appropriately. Non-hazardous waste such as paper, glass, plastic, food and other general litter should be disposed of, or recycled, in the relevant labelled bins located at the site.

Special arrangements should be made for disposal of any hazardous waste such as tyres, asbestos, hydrocarbons, or chemicals. Green waste should be disposed of by mulching and spreading rather than burning which causes loss of habitat, smoke, and increased risk of bush fires.