Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) - Updated October 2017

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The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (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 2011 ADWG have been developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and 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, the Table of Updates will be updated to provide the latest information.

Please refer to the NHMRC Public Consultation website for current invitations to make submissions relating to draft amendments of the ADWG, or for information about submissions made in previous public consultations.

Recent updates

Amendment type Amendment detail Date updated Version number Administrative report
Development of a new Chemical Fact Sheet - lanthanum Chemical Fact Sheet on lanthanum has been developed following a Secondary Notification risk assessment by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme October 2017 3.4 Review of lanthanum fact sheet for inclusion in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011
Text added to Chapter 6 Addition of guidance on rounding for guideline
Addition of guidance on parent compounds and
environmental transformation products.
Addition of guidance on the use of screening
November 2016 3.3  
Text added to Chapter 10 Addition of guidance for comparing analytical results with rounded guideline values. November 2016 3.3  
Minor amendments Editorial changes have been made to correct minor errors, and update references. November 2016 3.3  
Removal of text from Chapter
5 – Microbial Quality of Drinking
Historical overview text removed, duplicative text removed.
Information on viruses deleted for consistency with other waterborne pathogen sections.
November 2016 3.3  
Removal of Appendix 3 – National
Water Quality Management
This Appendix is significantly out of date and has been deleted. November 2016 3.3  
Removal of Appendix 4 – Process
This Appendix is the process report for review of the ADWG prior to 2011. It has been published separately for historical purposes.
References to Appendix 4 in the body of the ADWG has been deleted.

November 2016


Previous updates

Amendment type Amendment detail Date updated Version number

Text added to Chapter 6

Minor amendments to Chapter 8, sections 8.5 to 8.8, and Table 8.2.

Interim guideline values for chemicals that have been detected in drinking water.

Clarification of approval process for new drinking water chemicals, and modifications to inconsistencies to section 8.5 to 8.8.

February 2016 3.2
Minor amendments to Chapters 8 and 10, Tables 8.4 and 10.5, Information Sheets 1.4, 1.6 and 2.1, and Fact Sheets on Campylobacter, Salmonella and Vibrio Editorial changes have been made to correct minor errors, provide further clarification and context, and update references. March 2015 3.1
Review and update of three Chemical Fact Sheets – chloral hydrate, monochloramine and chlorine Chemical Fact Sheets on chloral hydrate (originally endorsed in 1996), monochloramine (last endorsed in 2011) and chlorine (last endorsed in 2011) have been reviewed and updated following a review of recent literature, including the World Health Organization guidelines for drinking water quality and to correct a rounding error. The guideline value for chloral hydrate has changed. The equivalent guideline value for monochloramine as Cl2/L has changed, which also resulted in a consequential change to the chlorine Fact Sheet. 19 December 2014 3
Minor amendments to contents page and Table 10.5 in relation to changes to the Fact Sheets for chloral hydrate, monochloramine and chlorine Editorial changes have been made to provide further clarification and update guideline values and naming conventions. 19 December 2014 3
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 2014 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.

Process Report

This document describes the process for the review of the 2004 Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and the development of the 2011 Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. It was previously Appendix 4 to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011).