The supply of unfiltered disinfected drinking water from Melbourne's fully protected catchments means that the water-quality managers must ensure that the source water poses no public health risk. High turbidity is currently used as a surrogate of pathogens, and harvesting of water is based on its measurement. The work presented here summarises suspended particle and associated pathogen, microbial indicator and faecal biomarker concentrations collected to (a) quantify turbidity in an Australian water supply system and (b) assess the possibility of increasing water harvesting from selected tributaries. Pathogens and microbial indicators were present in low numbers in these source waters; increased turbidity during storm events was not associated with an increase in pathogen concentration. The results confirmed that protected catchments, along with good management, were effective barriers to pathogen contamination. Aesthetic issues still need to be addressed, but no measurable increase in microbiological risk was associated with storm-generated particles.

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