The Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 has been in place since mid 2008 and its provisions regulate drinking water quality to protect public health. The legislation applies to drinking water service providers (service providers) registered with the Department of Energy and Water Supply (the regulator), particularly those involved in treating, transmitting or reticulating water for drinking purposes.
The primary method by which the regulator ensures that public health is protected is by approving a service provider's Drinking Water Quality Management Plan (DWQMP), and ensuring that the service provider complies with the plan.
As at January 2013, more than 20 service providers are operating under an approved plan. The remaining service providers, operating under a Notice, are currently in the process of developing or finalising their DWQMPs.
Where possible, the regulator is working actively and co-operatively with the service providers to ensure that their plans meet all Act requirements. For example, the regulator has visited each of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers to assist in the development of their plans.
Similarly, workshops were conducted for large and medium service providers towards developing their plans. Assistance to small service providers is currently ongoing ahead of the legislated 1 July 2013 timeframe for approval of their DWQMP's.
Drinking water quality management plans
The purpose of a plan is to implement a risk-management approach to manage the quality of drinking water.
In a plan, the provider will:
- give details of the infrastructure of the registered service
- assess the hazards and hazardous events that may affect drinking water quality
- undertake a risk assessment and document the process for managing these risks
- outline day-to-day operational requirements for managing the system, including:
- how mandatory criteria will be monitored
- how operational and verification monitoring will be conducted and
- reporting arrangements to ensure safe water.
This risk-management approach is recommended by the World Health Organisation and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
Detailed requirements for preparing a plan and supporting information can be viewed at the department's website.
- Drinking Water Quality Management Plan Guideline (PDF, 485K)*
- Preparing a Drinking Water Quality Management Plan—Supporting Information (PDF, 355K)*
Plans must be approved by the Queensland Water Supply Regulator and will be subject to ongoing reviews and regular audits. Application forms relating to the supply of drinking water are available from the water industry regulation forms page.
Schedule 3 of the Act defines providers as either large, medium or small entities.
Drinking water quality management plans are legislated to be in place by:
- 1 July 2011 for large drinking water service providers
- 1 July 2012 for medium drinking water service providers
- 1 July 2013 for small drinking water service providers.
There are no exemptions from preparing a plan and the requirement to prepare a plan can be brought forward at the discretion of the regulator.
New providers (established after 1 July 2008) must have an approved plan in place within 12 months of registering as a service provider.
Regulatory requirements for drinking water service providers prior to plan approval
Prior to having an approved DWQMP, all drinking water service providers were issued a Drinking Water Service Provider Monitoring and Reporting Requirement notice was issued to all existing providers in December 2008. The notice requires that providers address drinking water quality by complying with the following requirements:
- monitor and report Escherichia coli (E. coli) as specified in the Public Health Regulation 2005
- continue current drinking water quality monitoring program(s) for other parameters (where they are in place)
- report any incident that will or is likely to adversely affect drinking water quality
- report drinking water quality monitoring results on a quarterly basis.
Compliance with the notice is mandatory and remains in place until the service provider has an approved DWQMP.
Find out more about:
- how to report incidents
- quarterly reporting requirements
- guidance materials for monitoring and reporting
- water industry regulation forms.
Queensland Water Supply Regulator
PO Box 15456
City East Q 4002
Email: Queensland Water Supply Regulator
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Last updated 16 January 2013