Priority areas and protection zones
Once a drinking water source has been identified, it is important to make sure that it is protected from contamination.
To achieve this, the department assigns three different priority areas (P1, P2 or P3) to land within public drinking water source areas.
Land uses and activities that are considered appropriate for P1, P2 and P3 areas are outlined in Water quality protection note no. 25: Land use compatibility tables for public drinking water source areas.The Department also defines two types of protection zones (reservoir and wellhead protection zones) within public drinking water source areas to protect water abstraction points from immediate contamination risks.
Reservoir protection zones are defined in surface water catchments, and usually form a 2 kilometre buffer around the reservoir. Wellhead protection zones are defined around bores that supply drinking water and generally have a 500 metre radius in P1 areas, and a 300 m radius in P2 and P3 areas.