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Wilderness management : human waste & water quality


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Brassington, Juliette 1999 , 'Wilderness management : human waste & water quality', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Human wastes in wilderness areas have a number of impacts. Many of these impacts
relate to inadequate disposal methods which are unable to contain harmful pathogens
found in human wastes nor prevent animal contact with them. This situation can lead to
contamination of surface waters, thereby posing a public health risk. These issues are
compounded by the dramatic rise in visitation to these areas and a lack of research or
baseline data from which to make informed management decisions.
A case study was undertaken at Pelion Plains in the Tasmanian World Heritage Area to
examine the impact of human waste on water quality. Pelion Plains is a heavily used area,
and there is anecdotal evidence linking the area to a number of health related problems.
Using the traditional indicator method, Faecal coliform levels taken over five sample
occasions ranged from 1-410 (cfu) per 100 mL water and Faecal streptococci levels
ranged from 1-420 per 100 mL. Results indicate that the water is not suitable for
drinking. Currently no warning is provided advising visitors of a potential health risk
associated with the consumption of untreated water.
The faecal sterol method was also used due to its ability to differentiate human and
herbivore faecal matter. Results indicated that contamination was herbivore in origin.
Due to lack of (antecedent) rain during sampling, however, results were not considered
to be truly representative in this study. A limited macroinvertebrate analysis was also
undertaken to provide much needed baseline data, which may be useful as a pollution
indicator for the detection of long term ecological impacts.
This research has demonstrated that inadequate disposal of human wastes is influencing
water quality in a wilderness area, and that associated issues of public health are not being
addressed. In particular this research demonstrated that the existing toilets and camping
activities at Pelion Plains are implicated in the contamination of surface water which is
currently used for drinking.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Brassington, Juliette
Keywords: Feces, Water quality, Water quality management, Sewage, Forest reserves, Wilderness areas, National parks and reserves, Nature conservation
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1999 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Env.Mgt)--University of Tasmania, 1999. Includes bibliographical references

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