Home > Field Guide to the Community Water Planner

Field Guide to the Community Water Planner

February 23, 2011

Health and remote water supply agencies in Australia have long recognised that the operational management of drinking water supplies for remote Indigenous communities is a significant factor contributing to poor health. The ultimate aim of this project is to enable small communities, responsible for managing their water supply, to maintain safe water supplies consistent with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (NHMRC 2004).

Project 1001 - Community Water Planner Field Guide –Guidelines and best practice documentation to support water management in remote communities (Centre for Appropriate Technology)


Health and remote water supply agencies in Australia have long recognised that the operational management of drinking water supplies for remote Indigenous communities is a significant factor contributing to poor health. There are approximately 1190 separate remote Indigenous communities and 865 of them have populations of less than 50 people (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007). While the basic water supply infrastructure and skills exist to operate these simple but variable water supplies, the knowledge and expertise to develop a water management plan based on managing hazards and risks does not. The Community Water Planner is an easy to use package of posters and worksheets that can be adapted to suit individual drinking water supply systems for any remote community. It will assist service providers and communities to identify the most applicable water supply systems for their community, recognising the great diversity that exists in communities and the need for local knowledge. The elements of the package overcome language barriers and present information using pictures, diagrams and non-technical language.

The package uses demonstrative elements to identify the common hazards to drinking water quality (both health and aesthetic), water quantity and supply continuity. The poster series outlines risk-mitigation strategies via infrastructure, products and/or procedures. The posters also outline standard design, installation and operating instructions including installation and design principles for basic water supply infrastructure and common risk mitigation strategies.
The field guide directs users through four stages: building a schematic of the water supply system identifying problems with the water supply and activities to rectify the problems. planning an asset management and maintenance strategy providing an understanding of broader institutional roles and the allocation and delineation of water management responsibilities.


The most effective way to improve water supplies in remote communities is to focus on improving management of individual systems and by providing support through appropriate visual and written information sources. The ultimate aim of this project is to enable any community responsible for managing its water supply to maximise compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (NHMRC 2004). The support developed through the Community Water Planner Field Guide in the Australian context also has applicability to other national and international development contexts, given the common and worldwide issues of remoteness and limited services and income.