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Water borne pathogens

Swimming in polluted water can result in gastroenteritis, skin irritations and ear and eye infections. Risks to public health are most often associated with water borne pathogens, including bacteria (e.g. salmonella), viruses (e.g. hepatitis A) and protozoans (e.g. cryptosporidium).

Most water-borne pathogens come from human or animal faeces entering the river system through stormwater runoff, sewage pump station malfunctions, boating waste, malfunctioning septic tanks and farming activities. Salinity, sunlight, tidal movement, vegetation and microbial processes, wind and wave action all work to reduce the number of pathogens in the water.

The Department of Health provides up to date advice on how to stay safe in its tips for healthy swimming and coordinates bacterial water quality monitoring in collaboration with local government authorities at popular swimming locations in the Swan Canning Riverpark. The results of this monitoring program are updated regularly, and can be found in the Swan and Canning river beach grades.