Water Quality Advisory Committee (WQAC)

The NHMRC Water Quality Advisory Committee (WQAC) provides expert advice to NHMRC on public health issues related to drinking water quality.

The major role of WQAC is the rolling review of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG).

WQAC Membership

The current WQAC has the following Chair and members:

  • A/Professor Frederic Leusch (Chair), Griffith University
  • Dr Daniel Deere, Water Futures Pty Ltd
  • Professor Stuart Khan, The University of New South Wales
  • Professor Jochen Mueller, The University of Queensland
  • Dr Joanne O’Toole, Monash University
  • A/Professor Susan Petterson, Griffith University and Water and Health Pty Ltd
  • Professor Craig Simmons, Flinders University
  • Ms Carolyn Stanford (Consumer Representative), Stanford Marketing
  • Ms Amy Lea (Observer), Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Dr Nick Fletcher (Observer), Food Standards Australia New Zealand

WQAC members are individual authorities in their fields which include microbiology, toxicology, water quality risk assessment and management, water chemistry and recycling, groundwater hydrology, guidelines and methodology.

WQAC members are members of professional networks and consult within and outside these networks to provide expert advice on issues in water quality nationally and internationally.

WQAC appoints working groups to marshal the individual expertise of members and may source additional experts where appropriate.

Terms of Reference

The NHMRC’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) provide an authoritative reference on what defines safe, good quality water. The ADWG undergoes rolling review to ensure it remains current.

Drinking water quality is an important issue requiring a specialist committee to provide technical advice and expertise to the NHMRC. This is part of NHMRC’s commitment in the Corporate Plan 2016–2017 to maintain a leadership role in the development of public and environmental health advice.

The Water Quality Advisory Committee (the Committee) will:

  1. Guide and provide expert advice on the rolling review of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, focusing on the public health aspects of water quality and priority issues identified by the NHMRC.
  2. Provide rapid scientific and technical advice to the CEO of the NHMRC on current and emerging health issues relating to water quality in Australia, as required.
  3. Provide advice on the translation of research findings into national health related water quality policy and practice initiatives.
  4. Identify evidence gaps in NHMRC water quality guidelines, and advise on the research needs relating to water quality and health.

In consultation with NHMRC, the Committee may source expertise from outside the Committee to conduct its activities if required.

The Committee will report to Council. Appointments to the Committee commenced on 24 March 2016 and will conclude on 31 December 2018.

Work Plan 2016 – 2018

The work plan of WQAC was developed based on the feedback from Commonwealth and state/ territory agencies involved in water quality management, industry groups, water suppliers and the general public.

WQAC current activities include:

  • Considering public consultation feedback on the draft guidance in chapter 5 of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) to include a quantitative microbial health based target for drinking water;
  • Developing a methodology for reviewing the chemical fact sheets in Part V of the ADWG;
  • Considering advice from the Disinfection By-Products Advisory Committee that impact on the ADWG;
  • Scoping the review of the Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water (2008); and
  • Developing health guideline values and chemical fact sheets for Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for the ADWG. 

Declarations of Interest

Name/Position Area of Expertise Declaration of Interest

A/Professor Frederic Leusch (Chair)

School of Environment,  
Griffith University

Environmental toxicology; Chemical pollutants in the environment; Endocrine disruption; Bioanalytical tools in water quality assessment; Chemical risk assessment and guideline development
  • Head of Discipline, Griffith University, Soil Water and Energy, School of Environment.
  • Associate Editor (environmental toxicology) for Chemosphere 2014 – present
  • Appointments: NHMRC’s Fluoride Reference Group 2014 – present; Health and Environmental Sciences Institute –Animal Alternatives for EDC Testing Workgroup 2014 – present; Project Review Team – Water Research Australia 2012 – present; Board Member – SETAC 2015 – present: Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Independent Expert Panel – Water Quality and Monitoring Programme 2016 - present
  • Recipient of Australian Research Council Linkage Grants
  • Published numerous research papers, conference publications, reports and book chapters
  • Presentations at international and national conferences, seminars and workshops
  • Has provided expert advice to Californian and Australian water utilities on recycled water quality and micropollutants of emerging concern.
  • Conference organisation: Chair – SETAC Australasia Conference 2012; Co-Chair: Micro Pool & Ecohazard 2011; Organising Committee: EmCon & WiOW 2016 – Emerging Contaminants and Micropollutants in the Environment; SETAC AP 2014; SETAC Australasia 2013; Discussion Leader – Disinfection By-Products Gordon Research Conference 2015
  • Committees: Chair  of Steering Committee – Bioanalytical Risk Assessment Validation and Experimentation – Australian Water Recycling of Excellence 2015 – present; European Commission Seventh Framework Programme – Demonstration of Promising Technologies to Address Emerging Pollutants in Water and Waste Water 2014 – 2015; Water Research Foundation – Screening Endocrine Activity of Disinfection By-Products 2010 – 2014
  • Member of: Australasian College of Toxicology and Risk Assessment; International Water Association; Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 

Dr Dan Deere

Independent Consultant

Water Futures,
The University of New South Wales

Water quality and risk management; Data analysis, interpretation and modelling; Auditor
  • Consultant: Visiting Fellow at The University of New South Wales – Water Futures
  • Committee member of: Seqwater Water Security Program Independent Review Panel; WSAA HBTs Working Group;  NATA Cryptosporidium and Giardia Proficiency Testing Program; NATA Biological Accreditation Advisory Committee; NSW Health Cryptosporidium and Giardia Testing Independent Expert Panel; NSW Decentralised Systems Working Group
  • Past committees: NHMRC Drinking Water Guidelines Reference Group 2009 – 2011
  • Member of: Australian Water Association; International Water Association; Water Research Australia 
  • Taught numerous training events for local Government and Water Utilities in water quality and risk management
  • Expert witness on water quality protection for both governments and water utilities
  • Publications of numerous journals, book chapters and reports; also presentations at international and national conferences, seminars and workshops 

Professor Stuart Khan 

Water Research Centre,
The University of New South Wales

Trace chemical contaminants in water; Risk assessment and risk management  
  • Academic at the University of New South Wales – Water Research Centre
  • Consultant: undertook work for members of the Australian Water Industry
  • Committee/Advisory member of: WHO – Water Quality and Technical Advisory Group 2015 – present;  Water Quality Research Australia –  Project Quality Review Team 2012 – present;  U.S. WateReuse – Technical Advisory Committee 2015 – 2017; Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Independent Expert Panel – Water Quality and Monitoring Programme 2016 - present
  • Past Committee/Advisory member of: U.S. WateReuse Foundation – Project Advisory Committee 2010 – 2014; Australian Water Recycling Centre of Excellence – Project Advisory Committee 2011 – 2014; CSIRO and NSW Environmental Trust – Project Advisory Committee 2010 – 2013; South East Queensland Urban Water Security Research Alliance – Project Advisory Committee –  Purified Recycled Water Project 2008 – 2012
  • Journal Editorships: Associate Editor – Environmental Science – Water Research and Technology; Journal of Water Supply – Research Technology
  • Recipient of research grants from government and non-government agencies – including Australian Research Council and Water Research Australia
  • Publication of numerous journal articles, reports and book chapters; also presentations at international and national conferences, seminars and workshops
  • Member of: Australian Water Association; International Water Association; Engineers Australia 

Professor Jochen Mueller 

National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology,
The University of Queensland

Griffith University 

Environmental chemistry and toxicology; Human bio-monitoring and molecular bio-markers

  • Academic at University of Queensland – National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology
  • Adjunct Professor at Griffith University – School of Atmospheric Science
  • ARC Future Fellowship until 2016
  • Committee memberships: Chair – 32nd dioxin Symposium 2012
  • Member of: Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Science
  • Editorial boards: Chemosphere; Environmental Science and Pollution Research; Emerging Contaminants
  • Consultant: industry, government agencies and international meetings & programs including expert advice on PFAS.
  • Recipient of research grants – Australian Research Council and National Health and Medical Research Council, industry, government agencies including state governments and CSIRO, international organisations including WHO and UNEP
  • Publications of numerous journals, book chapters and reports; also presentations at international and national conferences, seminars and workshops

Dr Joanne O’Toole

School of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine,
Monash University

Water microbiologist; Water recycling; Health risk assessment; Laboratory accreditation 
  • Research Fellow at Monash University – School of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
  • Consultant: Water Research Australia and international workshops by Unilever 2014
  • NHMRC Project Grant – Research Investigator – Improving access to water using Riverbank Technology Filtration
  • Water Research Australia funded project Management of environmental E.coli
  • Member of: International Water Association; Australian Society for Microbiology; Australasian Epidemiological Association
  • Publications of numerous journals and reports; also presentations at international and national conferences, seminars and workshops

A/Professor Susan Petterson 

School of Medicine, Griffith University

Water & Health Pty Ltd

Journal of Water and Health

Quantitative microbial risk assessment specialist; Risk assessment software tool development 
  • Associate Professor at Griffith University – School of Medicine
  • Director of Water & Health Pty Ltd
  • Editor: Journal of Health and Water (IWA Publishing)
  • Consultant to: Viega Plumbing on opportunistic pathogens; the City of Edmonton, Canada – on recreational water; expert testimony for AGL Macquarie on opportunistic pathogens
  • Consultant on projects:  Global Water Pathogens Project; Public Health Agency of Sweden 2012 – present; Sydney Water Corporation 2012 – present; NSW Health 2012 – present; WHO 2009 – present
  • Past projects for: Government of Alberta, Canada 2013 – 2014; INTARES EU 2011 – 2014; Water Research Australia 2011 – 2013; Swedish Water and Wastewater Association – Stockholm Water Ltd 2011
  • Publications on numerous journals and reports; also presentations at international and national conferences, seminars and workshops

Professor Craig Simmons

National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training,
School of the Environment,
Flinders University

The University of Western Australia



Groundwater hydrology; Hydrological, environmental, earth and applied engineering sciences 
  • Director – National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training
  • Mathew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Hydrogeology and Schultz Chair of the Environment – Flinders University; Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering; Adjunct Professor at The University of Western Australia
  • Committee member of: Alternate Deputy Chair –  Statutory Independent Scientific Committee (IESC) on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development; Chair –  IESC  Research Subcommittee; Deputy Chair of the ATSE’s Water Forum; Chair – Roundtable for Oil and Gas Projects in South Australia; Member – Research Advisory Committee, Goyder Institute for Water Research South Australia; Member – Engineering and Medicine Roundtable on Unconvential Hydrocarbon Development, US National Academies of Sciences; Member – Agency reference Group, Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment, QLD; Member – Steering Committee, SA NRM research and Innovation Network
  • Member of: Australian Institute of Company Directors; National Groundwater Association of the U.S.A; International Association of Hydrogeologists;  American Geophysical Union; Geological Society of America; Hydrological Society of South Australia
  • Editorial boards: Australian Journal of Water Resources;  International Journal  of Water Conservation Science and Engineering; International Journal of Environmental Modeling and Assessment; Groundwater; Journal of Hydrology; Vadose Zone Journal
  • Publications of numerous journal articles, book chapters and reports; presentations at international and national conferences, seminars and workshops

Ms Carolyn Stanford
(Consumer Representative)

Standford Marketing

Marketing and communication
  • Consultancy fees to Stanford Marketing from Goulburn-Murray Rural WaterCorp for marketing and communication services
  • Fees paid to husband’s company by Coliban Water for metal fabrication services
  • Development of Goulburn – Murray Water publications
  • Development of various guidelines, standards, educational material or fact sheets for Coliban Water 1999 – 2005

Ms Amy Lea (Observer)

Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Environmental science, freshwater ecosystems, water policy
  • Senior Policy Officer – National Water Policy – Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Policy Officer - Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (2011-2016)

Dr Nick Fletcher (Observer)

Food Standards Australia New Zealand
Toxicology and risk assessment 
  • Manager Risk Assessment Chemical Safety and Nutrition, Food Standards Australia New Zealand
  • Senior Associate (Toxicology) Coffey Environments 2012-2013

Former Members