Australian Drinking Water Guidelines: Draft framework on microbial health based targets

 The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011 (ADWG) have been developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and are designed to provide an authoritative reference to the Australian community and the water supply industry on what defines safe, good quality drinking water. The ADWG undergo rolling revision to ensure they represent the latest and best scientific evidence on good quality drinking water. The current revision has considered microbial health based targets (HBT’s) and has recently completed public consultation.

The draft framework describes a range of options for utilities to meet HBTs. For smaller utilities this could involve using default treatment processes based on categorising the type of water source. For more technically advanced utilities a more system-specific approach using water supply-specific monitoring data can be used.  For utilities that do not meet the existing standards in the ADWG, the HBT framework describes a water safety continuum, where the utility can plan improvements to its operation in order to work towards the goal of safer water and best practice.

The draft framework provides a discussion of the science and rationale of microbial HBT in the context of source water, such as applying HBT to drinking water supplies, determining minimum treatment requirements for drinking water supplies, specified treatment technologies for small or remote drinking water, and information on operational monitoring.

Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has also published a ‘Manual for the Application of Health-Based Treatment Targets’.

In order to apply the draft framework or the WSAA method, the vulnerability of the source water must be assessed.  naturallogic has been completing these assessment for Councils and water utilises across Australia.