Perth authorities long depended on the absorptive capacities of Perth’s sand to absorb industrial and domestic wastes. In 1897 it was decided to establish surface drainage in Perth and drain "the slops of Perth" into the River. It was not a proposal that received universal acclaim, but the West Australian summarised the drawbacks to Perth Water:
"It will neither be improved as a bathing, fishing or boating river by having a certain share of the drainage and foul water poured into it every hour of the day. But besides these objections we have to remember that the Swan is, for the most part, a shallow river, and that its bed is in many places not of the cleanest. Still more serious is the fact that there is practically no current in the river for much the greater part of the year." 
The editor pointed out that the foundations of Perth had already been reduced to the "state of a putrid sponge, ever absorbing new volumes of foetid matter, and ever giving forth noxious vapours." 
The Spring Street and Mounts Bay Drains were ongoing problems, being fed from as far away as Lake Monger. Deep drainage eventually came to Perth and increasingly industrial waste has been committed to the sewer, but the drains into Perth Water have large catchments and the drains in front of the city remain.
Page last updated: Tuesday 23 November 2010