Safer drinking water for all Australians

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Summary media release information

28 October 2011
NHMRC Media Release
Contact for further information: 
Claire Pitham, NHMRC: 0434 369 981

Two resources designed to ensure Australian water derived from any source is clean and safe to drink were released today at the SEQ Water Grid Emergency Management Room in Brisbane.

The revised Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) and the expanded Community Water Planner (CWP) tool, were released by the National Health and Medical Research Council, with support from the National Water Commission.

“The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines is one of the most important guidelines the NHMRC produces. If these guidelines are adhered to consumers can be assured that water from any source is safe to drink and of the highest quality,” said Dr David Cunliffe, Chair of the NHMRC Water Quality Advisory Committee.

The ADWG provides information for all steps of drinking water production from catchment to consumer and is used by catchment and water resource managers, drinking water suppliers, water regulators and health authorities.

Dr Cunliffe said, “Clean, safe drinking water is something that many Australians living in cities and regional areas take for granted. Australians should be able to rely on the quality of the water that flows from their taps.  Over the past 40 years NHMRC has played a crucial role in providing the authorative guidance necessary for achieving the best quality drinking water.”

The Community Water Planner is an online tool that assists remote and Indigenous communities to produce clean, safe drinking water by generating water safety plans tailored to their specific community. The tool was developed by the NHMRC with financial support from the National Water Commission.

“When the Community Water Planner was trialled in 21 Indigenous communities, fewer people experienced water-borne diseases,” said Murray Radcliffe, Acting General Manager of the National Water Commission.

“Better water quality in Indigenous communities takes us a step closer to bridging the gap between the health of Indigenous and other Australians and reflects our commitment to the sustainable management and use of Australia's water resources”

Following the latest review, the ADWG was expanded to include 120 new physical/chemical fact sheets, nine new microbial indicator fact sheets and a new section on pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The ADWG was jointly developed by the NHMRC and the previous Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, and forms part of Australia’s National Water Quality Management Strategy.

The CWP includes information on preventing microbial, physical, chemical and radiological risks in drinking water.  The National Water Commission developed the physical, chemical and radiological modules and provided funding to NHMRC to turn the original microbial focused tool into a web based application.

The ADWG and CWP can be accessed at: