Safe Drinking Water
Safe drinking water is a fundamental requirement for maintaining public health and supporting healthy communities. It is essential that there are mechanisms in place to ensure a consistent approach to the delivery of safe drinking water that will be both practical and protective of public health.
Safe Drinking Water Act 2011
The Safe Drinking Water Act 2011 was passed by State Parliament in May 2011 and commenced on 1 March 2013. The Act is based on the implementation of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines with key components being consistent with interstate and international legislation including:
- registration of drinking water providers
- implementation of risk management plans including approved monitoring programs and incident notification protocols
- regular audits and inspections of drinking water providers
- reporting of results to the Department for Health and Ageing
- provision of results to consumers on request.
The Act applies to all drinking water providers who supply water to the public including SA Water, operators of independent town supplies and supplies in rural and remote communities, water carters and providers of drinking water in facilities including hospitals, accommodation premises, child care and aged care centres.
The Act does not apply to domestic use of rainwater tanks or other private supplies. Provisions for exemptions have been included for small supplies derived from rainwater tanks in low risk premises such as short-term accommodation facilities (e.g. bed and breakfasts, hotels, caravan parks and camping grounds) recreational or community centres and church and council buildings.
For further information view the Exemptions Fact Sheet (PDF 212KB).
Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2012
The Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2012 (PDF37KB) were made by the Governor in December 2012 and commenced on 1 March 2013. The Act contemplates a range of regulations to provide specific information required for effective implementation. The Regulations address matters including:
- general obligation to observe the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines in relation to the quality and supply of drinking water
- exemptions for domestic dwellings and low risk premises
- content of risk management plans
- duties of auditors and inspectors
- reporting of water quality to the Department for Health and Ageing
- provision of results to consumers on request
Key requirements of the new legislation
Existing drinking water providers are required to register with the Department for Health and Ageing by 1 June 2013. After 1 June 2013 all new providers must register before commencing supply of drinking water. Registration is a one-off event with no associated fee and will provide the Department for Health and Ageing with important information as to the type, size and location of drinking water providers across the state.
The Department for Health and Ageing will maintain a register of drinking water providers which will be available on this website after 1 June 2013. Local councils will be advised of registered drinking water providers in their area.
Risk Management Plans
Risk management plans (RMPs) are recognised as an essential feature of assuring drinking water quality and are a key component of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. The design and application of RMPs is the operational focus of the Act. All RMPs must include monitoring plans and incident identification and notification protocols which require approval by the Department for Health and Ageing.
Standard RMPs are being developed by the Department for Health and Ageing for small rainwater and bore water supplies and water carters and will be available on this website soon.
Drinking water providers will need to advise the Department for Health and Ageing where a standard RMP is being adopted. Existing providers are required to develop a RMP by 1 March 2014. After 1 March 2014 all new providers must have a RMP in place prior to commencing supply.
Audits and Inspections
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines recognise auditing of drinking water quality management as an important tool in confirming that systems are effective and producing desired outcomes. Inspections/audits are included in the Act to ensure that appropriate RMPs are developed and implemented. Documentation including monitoring results and maintenance schedules will be examined as part of this process.
Audits of moderate-large supplies will be required once a year while inspections of small supplies will generally be required once every two years. Frequencies will be published in the Government Gazette and on the SA Health website. A list of approved auditors and inspectors will also be provided on the SA Health website. It is the responsibility of the drinking water provider to arrange for an inspection or audit in line with the specified frequency.
Inspections and audits will be combined with existing activities where possible, e.g. food inspections and audits, accreditation audits undertaken by the South Australian Tourism Industry Council.
Reporting of results
All drinking water results from approved monitoring plans are required to be submitted to the Department for Health and Ageing. For most providers this can be achieved by including results with inspection and audit reports, eg annually or once every two years.
Provision of results to customers
Drinking water providers will be required to provide water quality results to consumers on request. This is a standard requirement in interstate and international legislation and will improve transparency and give consumers confidence in the quality of their drinking water. SA Water provides consumers with drinking water quality reports through published annual reports. Options for smaller providers will include provision of results to consumers on request by letter, email or telephone.
A range of resources have been developed to assist in the administration of the Act and Regulations. Forms are available for drinking water providers to complete and submit to the Department for Health and Ageing. In addition, a range of fact sheets have been developed to provide further information on the new legislation. Further resources will be developed throughout the implementation period including guidance on the development of RMPs and inspection and audit processes.
- Summary of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Regulations (PDF 225KB)
- Water Supplied Solely for Non-drinking Uses (PDF 207KB)
- Exemptions Fact Sheet (PDF 212KB)
- Reporting Water Quality Incidents (PDF 155KB)
- Application of the Act to Accommodation Premises (PDF 207KB)
- Application of the Act to Food Premises (PDF 172KB)
- Water Carting (PDF 213KB)
For more information
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (08) 8226 7100.