Non-Nutrient Contaminants Program (NNCP)
The Non-Nutrient Contaminant Program (NNCP) was initiated by the Swan River Trust in
2006. The program aims to collect baseline and targeted information to aid in the
management of contaminants other than nutrients in the Swan-Canning Estuary and its
catchment.
The first phase of the NNCP involved a broad-scale three year baseline study of non-nutrient
contaminants in the system which identified a range of pollutants in the river that are often
present in urbanised catchments. These contaminants were from a diversity of sources,
including historic and present day agricultural, urban and industrial activities, and were
typically conveyed to the river either through the drainage system, from tributaries or through
groundwater flowing through urban and industrial areas, including disused waste sites. The
disturbance of acid sulfate soils can also release metals and other contaminants from the
soil into nearby waterways.
The Department of Water (DOW) undertook Phase I of the NNCP on behalf of the Trust and
produced a series of four reports:
1. A baseline study of contaminants in groundwater at disused waste disposal sites in
the Swan Canning catchment (Evans, 2009)
2. A baseline study of organic contaminants in the Swan and Canning catchment
drainage system using passive samplers (Foulsham et al., 2009)
3. A baseline study of contaminants in the sediments of the Swan and Canning
estuaries (Nice, 2009)
4. A baseline study of contaminants in the Swan and Canning catchment drainage
system (Nice et al., 2009)
Based on the results and recommendations of these studies, a second phase of the NNCP
was commenced in 2009 and focused on areas of the river that were considered a priority
for further investigation. Phase II of the NNCP examined the toxicity of contaminated
sediments collected from priority areas to a range of estuarine organisms.
Conducted by DOW on behalf of the Trust, Phase Two of the NNCP produced the reports:
1. Ecotoxicological and bioaccumulation investigations of the Swan Estuary in the
vicinity of Claisebrook (Nice and Fisher, 2011)
2. A preliminary ecotoxicological investigation of Bull Creek (Nice, 2011).
The NNCP continues to examine non-nutrient contaminants in priority areas of the SwanCanning Estuary and the potential impacts of these contaminants on biota, with a further six
studies currently being undertaken in the third phase of the program.
Five of these studies are being conducted by DOW on behalf of the Trust and examine a
broad range of NNC issues, including further investigation in the Swan River adjacent to the
site of the former East Perth Gasworks, investigations of organic contaminants throughout
the Swan-Canning Estuary, investigations of the sediments and surface water adjacent to a
disused waste disposal site on the Canning River and investigations of contaminants in the
drainage networks discharging to both Claisebrook Cove and the Kent St Weir pool.
The reports produced as part of Phase III of the NNCP will be publicly available later in the
year. An additional report, summarising all findings of the NNCP relevant to Swan River in
the area of East Perth will also be available in late 2012.
A further study is being conducted by the Trust in conjunction with the Department of Health
to examine the extent and distribution of bacteria in the upper Swan River.
Drain Stencilling
While the contaminants observed in the river are not uncommon for an urban area,
particularly one with a legacy of industrial uses, they are an important reminder that
stormwater drainage networks across the entire catchment lead to the rivers. The NNCPs
Drain Stencilling Program aims to educate the community of the potential impacts of putting
contaminants down local stormwater drains.
The Drain Stencilling Program partnered with the City of Vincent in 2010 to stencil priority
drains in the city and distribute information pamphlets on the effects of putting contaminants
down local street drains. The Program is currently undergoing an extensive review to allow it
to encompass the remaining C21 local government councils and also the Green Stamp
Programs for the Motor Trade Association (WA), the Printing Industries Association of
Australia (PIAA) and Cleaning Council of WA (CCWA).
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Non-Nutrient Contaminants Program (NNCP)