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Health Based Targets for microbial Water Quality

Project Number # 1004

Establishing Australian Health Based Targets for microbial Water Quality (NHMRC)

Project Leader:  Karin Leder

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Background and Relevance:

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines currently do not contain quantitative targets for microbial safety of drinking water supplies. The lack of clearly specified health-based targets is a significant limitation of the current ADWG. Health-based targets provide benchmarks for defining water safety, and the effectiveness of risk management plans can be verified by evidence of compliance with specified targets.

This shortcoming in the ADWG compromises effective and consistent application of risk management for water supplies across Australia. Health-based targets (adapted from World Health Organisation Guidelines) have been incorporated in the Australian Guidelines for Water Recycling, however there has been no formal national consultation on whether these targets, and the assumptions on which they are based, are relevant and appropriate for the Australian context.

The purpose of this project was to develop a national evidence-based consensus position on suitable health targets for microbial water quality through a process of broad consultation, data collection and analysis, and expert review. This consensus outcome will be directly translatable into national and state/territory policy for drinking water supplies and recycled water supplies intended for potable use. The aim of this project was to develop Australian-specific DALY models for key waterborne pathogens which can be incorporated into the ADWG and the AGWR.

Project Documents