Recycled and non-drinking water
The Queensland water supply regulator (within the Department of Energy and Water Supply) is responsible for the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008
Queensland Health is a co-regulator and our responsibilities include:
- administering the Public Health Act 2005 and Public Health Regulations 2005 that support the Water Supply Act 2008
- working closely with the Queensland water supply regulator
- providing expert health advice and support for risk assessment and incident management.
Read more about the regulation of recycled water in Queensland.
Australian guidelines for water recycling
The Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling provide a framework for good management of recycled water supplies and use.
The recycled water quality requirements in the Public Health Act 2005 and Public Health Regulations 2005 are based on these guidelines.
There are 4 parts to the guidelines:
- the Phase 1 document covers the use of treated sewage and greywater for specific uses, including:
- residential garden watering, car washing, toilet flushing and clothes washing
- irrigation for urban recreational and open space
- irrigation for agriculture and horticulture
- fire protection and firefighting systems
- industrial uses, including cooling water (from a human health perspective).
- Three additional documents on water recycling were developed in Phase 2 and cover:
Recycled water schemes
All recycled water providers must register their recycled water schemes with the Queensland water supply regulator.
All recycled water providers are also obliged to supply recycled water that meets the requirements of the Public Health Act 2005, i.e. the supply of recycled water that is 'fit for use' and does not pose a public health risk.
Recycled water quality management plans
Some schemes also need to have an approved recycled water quality management plan. The plans are approved by the Queensland water supply regulator.
This applies to schemes that supply recycled water for
- augmentation of a drinking water supply,
- irrigation of minimally processed food crops
- dual-reticulation systems
Read more about the requirements for recycled water quality management plans.
Rainwater tank water should only be used for drinking, personal hygiene and food preparation where there is no access to reticulated (or ‘town’) water. This is because town water provides the safest and most reliable source of drinking water.
Roof-harvested rainwater may be used without further treatment for flushing toilets, the cold water laundry tap and for watering gardens and lawns as these uses generally present a low risk of disease.
Many people in Queensland do not have access to town water supplies and so they may rely on roof-harvested rainwater as their sole supply of drinking (potable) water. For most people, especially those who have been drinking rainwater for most of their lives, there will be very little health risk, provided the rainwater collection and storage system is well maintained. However, there are some members of the community for whom microorganisms (pathogens) in rainwater could pose health risks, including infants, the elderly and immuno-compromised people such as transplant, dialysis, HIV or cancer patients with severely weakened immune systems.
Find out more about roof harvested rainwater and the protection of public health (PDF 161 KB)
The Australian government provides guidance on the use of rainwater tanks including tips for design, installation and maintenance, as well as minimising potential water quality hazards.
Read about the regulatory roles and responsibilities relating to rainwater tanks (PDF 150 KB)
Non-drinking (non-potable) water in workplaces
There are many instances where non-drinking water is used in the workplace for activities like:
- Dust suppression
- Crop irrigation
The person in control of the workplace has certain responsibilities in relation to the use, handling, storage and transport of this water.
Read more about using non-potable water in your business.