GPG to Sanitary Surveys and Monitoring to Support the Management of Drinking Water Catchments

January 20, 2021

A detailed assessment of a drinking water catchment’s source waters is necessary to define requirements for source control and treatment regimes.

Based on research by Water Research Australia research published in 2014 (Project 1036) the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) produced a Health Based Targets Manual in 2015 (the Manual). The Manual provided a practical interpretation of the WaterRA research and divided drinking water treatment requirements into logical categories that aligned with the most common treatment process trains.

In August 2016 the approach was incorporated into a public consultation draft of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) which in due course is expected to be revised to incorporate the approach.

A key part of assessing source waters is to conduct what the water industry terms a ‘sanitary survey’. There are many sources of guidance on the conduct of a sanitary survey in a water supply source. However, none have been specifically tailored to respond to the evidence published by WaterRA under Project 1036 and to support the current WSAA and anticipated ADWG HBT guidance.

The Australian water industry saw the benefits of more guidance on source water sanitary surveys to help promote consistency and good practice and provide confidence in results. Furthermore, even for water utilities that already have a source water sanitary survey approach, there is clear benefit in benchmarking and possibly improving approaches by drawing from a research project that has set out an industry community of practice consensus position on best and appropriate practices.

Water Research Australia’s Good Practice Guide to Sanitary Surveys and Operational Monitoring to Support the Assessment and Management of Drinking Water Catchments (the Guide) has drawn together and presented current best practice, noted recent innovations, highlighted current research and development activities and predicted future research priorities. The Guide provides worked examples and recommendations of good practice source water sanitary survey methods that make appropriate use of modern technologies and that meet contemporary needs. This helps guide the water sector in its conduct of catchment assessments and observational monitoring under the ADWG Framework and for establishing treatment requirements under HBT approaches.

The Guide provides valuable support for water utilities looking for consistency in the delivery of sanitary surveys as part of their source water assessments to support HBT and other risk assessment objectives. The Guide has been developed based on extensive review of literature and practical case studies, sector-wide workshops and consultation processes, and major contributions from water utilities, catchment management authorities, health authorities, academics and technical consultants. As such it represents a community of practice consensus position from across the WaterRA membership.


Download the Guide


Project documents and final reports are only available to WaterRA member organisations for this project. Members will be required to log in to access this research.