Drinking water regulation
In Queensland, town water supplies are primarily operated by local governments and water utilities. These entities, referred to in legislation as drinking water service providers, are co-regulated by both Water Supply Regulation, within the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Queensland Health.
Water Supply Regulation is responsible for the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008. This Act requires the registration of all drinking water service providers and imposes a range of other requirements, including the need to develop a drinking water quality management plan.
Queensland Health is responsible for administering the Public Health Act 2005 and Public Health Regulation 2018. The Public Health Act provides Queensland Health officers with powers to direct a drinking water service provider to take certain actions when there is a risk to public health. The Public Health Regulation sets standards for drinking water, based on the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
Queensland Health works closely with Water Supply Regulation and plays a key role in providing expert health advice and support for risk assessment and incident management for drinking water.
Please note that in a small number of locations in Queensland the town water supply may be non-potable. Where this is the case, it must be clearly communicated to both residents and visitors that the town water supply is not for drinking.
Read more about water supply and regulation in Queensland
Read more about registered drinking water service providers
Find out more about water quality monitoring
Drinking water service providers
Drinking water service providers include all councils or businesses involved in treating, storing, distributing and reticulating water for drinking purposes. They need to be registered under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 to provide the drinking water service, and they are then subject to state government regulation.
Drinking water service providers are responsible for managing and operating their water supply, monitoring water quality, handling customer complaints and working with the Queensland government regulators in the event of incidents.
Drinking water advisories
A drinking water advisory is a communication between a drinking water service provide and members of the public about an event that has, or could potentially have, an adverse impact on drinking water quality.
The most common type of drinking water advisory is a ‘boil water alert’. A boil water alert directs customers to boil their water and is typically issued because of concern about microbial contamination. Less common types of drinking water advisories are ‘do not consume’ and ‘do not use’ alerts.
In Queensland, drinking water service providers are responsible for issuing drinking water advisories. In most situations the drinking water service provider will also seek advice from their local Queensland Health Public Health Unit. Once the risk to the safety of the drinking water supply has been removed the service provider will lift the drinking water advisory, on advice from the Public Health Unit.
Private drinking water supply
When a household, community facility or commercial premises is unable to access drinking water from a drinking water service provider, they will need to rely on an alternative source of drinking water; this alternative source is referred to as a private drinking water supply.
Private drinking water supplies should only be used for drinking, personal hygiene and food preparation where there is no access to reticulated (or town) water.
Under the Public Health Act 2005, local government is responsible for the regulation of private drinking water supplies.
Find more information on safe water on rural properties (PDF 184 kB)