Drinking water quality management: a holistic approach

Water Sci Technol. 2003;47(9):31-6.


A growing list of water contaminants has led to some water suppliers relying primarily on compliance monitoring as a mechanism for managing drinking water quality. While such monitoring is a necessary part of drinking water quality management, experiences with waterborne disease threats and outbreaks have shown that compliance monitoring for numerical limits is not, in itself, sufficient to guarantee the safety and quality of drinking water supplies. To address these issues, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has developed a Framework for Management of Drinking Water Quality (the Framework) for incorporation in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, the primary reference on drinking water quality in Australia. The Framework was developed specifically for drinking water supplies and provides a comprehensive and preventive risk management approach from catchment to consumer. It includes holistic guidance on a range of issues considered good practice for system management. The Framework addresses four key areas: Commitment to Drinking Water Quality Management, System Analysis and System Management, Supporting Requirements, and Review. The Framework represents a significantly enhanced approach to the management and regulation of drinking water quality and offers a flexible and proactive means of optimising drinking water quality and protecting public health. Rather than the primary reliance on compliance monitoring, the Framework emphasises prevention, the importance of risk assessment, maintaining the integrity of water supply systems and application of multiple barriers to assure protection of public health. Development of the Framework was undertaken in collaboration with the water industry, regulators and other stakeholder, and will promote a common and unified approach to drinking water quality management throughout Australia. The Framework has attracted international interest.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy
  • Quality Control
  • Risk Assessment
  • Water Supply / standards*