Drinking water

Drinking water regulation

In Queensland, reticulated (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 Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water 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 drinking water incident response.

Drinking water service providers are required to comply with the regulatory framework. They 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.

Read more about water supply and regulation in Queensland

Read more about registered drinking water service providers

Find a List of registered water supply and sewerage service providers

Drinking water advisories

A drinking water advisory is a communication between a drinking water service provider 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.

Find guidelines and templates to assist drinking water service providers prepare and issue drinking water advisories (PDF 463 kB)

Private drinking water supplies

When a household, commercial or community 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.

In Queensland, there is no specific regulatory framework governing private drinking water supplies. However, the Public Health Act 2005 permits a local government to issue a public health order to manage a public health risk associated with a private drinking water supply, and some local governments impose licence conditions on certain classes of premises reliant on private drinking water supplies under the provisions of the Food Act 2006 or local laws.

There are several resources available to help individuals and community and commercial premises manage their private drinking water supplies:

Find national guidance on the use of rain water tanks

Find more information on safe water on rural properties (PDF 184 kB)

Find Queensland Health’s guidelines for Managing private drinking water supplies in commercial and community premises (PDF 845 kB). This publication includes a simple template for a private drinking water supply management plan.

Last updated: 7 October 2022