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Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) - Updated December 2013

Summary information

Publishing date: 
Reference number: 
Available in print: 
No - PDF only
Further information:

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines undergo rolling revision to ensure they represent the latest scientific evidence on good quality drinking water. As sections of the Guidelines continue to be reviewed, this page will be updated to provide the latest information.

The 2011 Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) have been developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in collaboration with the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (NRMMC). The ADWG are designed to provide an authoritative reference to the Australian community and the water supply industry on what defines safe, good quality water, how it can be achieved and how it can be assured. The guidelines have been developed after consideration of the best available scientific evidence and provide a framework for good management of drinking water supplies to ensure safety at point of use. They address both the health and aesthetic quality aspects of supplying good quality drinking water.

The recent update of the ADWG includes:

  • New Information Sheets for Water Treatment Operators, which replaces Information Sheets on Disinfection;
  • An update of the 1996 Chemical Fact Sheets on benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes; and
  • A new resource – Guidance for issuing and lifting boil water advisories.

Public consultation on the proposed changes to the ADWG was held in 2012 and 2013 and summaries of the submissions received are available below.

Table of updates

Amendment type Amendment detail Date updated Version number
Review and update of eight information sheets for water treatment operators on water disinfection. Includes: Introduction to water treatment, Overview of water disinfection, Disinfection with chlorine, Disinfection with chloramine, Disinfection with chlorine dioxide, Disinfection with ozone, Disinfection with ultra-violet light, Other disinfectant These Information Sheets replace the previous Information Sheets which were developed in 2004 and were very general in nature. In revising the Information Sheets, the Water Quality Advisory Committee considered the information on water disinfection already included in the 2011 ADWG, international standards including the WHO Drinking-water Guidelines, and reviewed the recent literature on water disinfection. This information was integrated to produce the revised Information Sheets on disinfection of drinking water, which include additional information on practical aspects of water disinfection. 13 December 2013 2
Review and update of four chemical Fact Sheets – benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes Chemical Fact Sheets on Benzene, Toluene,  Ethylbenzene and Xylenes (originally endorsed in 1996) have been reviewed and updated following a review of recent literature, including the World Health Organization guidelines for drinking water quality. The guideline values for these chemicals have not been changed as a result of the review. 13 December 2013 2
New resource – Guidance for issuing and lifting a Boil Water Advisory A new resource has been developed to assist health and environment department officials determine when to issue and lift boil water notices following a drinking water contamination incident. This document has been developed by the  WQAC at the request of jurisdictions, following recent natural disasters which led to possible drinking water contamination. 13 December 2013 2

Document functionality

  • The 2011 version of the ADWG is only available electronically as a bookmarked PDF.
  • Please note that when opening this document in some Internet browsers (particularly Internet Explorer and Google Chrome) bookmarks will not be displayed. We suggest you save a copy to your desktop to access this functionality.
  • The December 2013 update of the document includes an interactive Table of Contents. Click on any item and it will link directly to that section or page of the document.

Document download


  • Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) - cover art

Background information

Public Consultation on the draft revised fact sheets on chloral hydrate and monochloramine

Public consultation on changes to draft chemical fact sheets on chloral hydrate and monochloramine was open from Monday 10 February 2014 until Wednesday 12 March 2014. NHMRC is now considering the submissions that were received during public consultation.