Private water supplies

Water is an essential resource. Private water suppliers have a responsibility to ensure that the water they provide to the public for drinking is 'potable' which means safe to drink.

This responsibility extends to private water supplies at food premises, caravan parks, bed and breakfasts, water carters and other businesses where drinking water is provided to members of the public.  The NSW Government has endorsed the “Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011” as a foundation for assessing drinking water safety and quality.

Tank water

Many people in the Clarence Valley use rain water as a primary source of water for drinking, preparing food, personal hygiene and gardening.  Tank water is generally safe to drink but there are ways it can easily become contaminated with harmful micro-organisms.  Visit NSW Health – Rainwater Tanks about the risks associated with drinking untreated rain water and how you can protect yourself, your family and your drinking water.

Drinking water supplied to the public

A recent change in the Public Health Amendment Review Bill 2017 has made it an offense to supply drinking water to the public if you have failed to establish or adhere to a Drinking Water Quality Assurance Program (QAP) by 1 April 2018. The requirement to submit a QAP to NSW Health has been in place since 2014.

Luckily, preparing a QAP is easy!  Visit NSW Health - Private Water Suppliers on how to create your own QAP to satisfy the requirements of the legislation.

In most cases, water treatment is necessary to ensure water from a non-reticulated source is safe to drink.  This is dependant on a number of things including source water quality, existing systems, what the water is used for and it’s potential to become contaminated.

It is also recommended that monthly bacteriological testing of private water supplies is undertaken by the supplier of the water to ensure the treatment system is functioning and that the water remains safe for drinking whilst using it for your business.

Water treatment specialists are useful in determining what treatment is necessary to make untreated water safe for drinking.  Check the internet or phone book for a local specialist.

Drinking water carters

Drinking water carters are also considered to be suppliers of drinking water under the Public Health Act 2010 as well as a food business under the Food Act 2003.  When a water carter registers with Council for a standpipe to access the reticulated water supply to cart drinking water, they can expect to be contacted by an Environmental Health Officer for an inspection of their water carting vehicle to assess compliance with the Food Standards Code and Public Health legislation.  They also need to send a Drinking Water Quality Assurance Program (QAP) to NSW Health prior to trade.

Visit NSW Health – Water Carters for all of the details you need to know if you decide to supply drinking water from a water carting vehicle.

More information

There is a wealth of information available on the NSW Health web page in relation to private water supplies.  If you cannot find what you are looking for, Council’s Environmental Health Officers are available to discuss any concerns or questions you might have about private water supplies on (02) 6643 0200.  NSW Health can also be contacted on 1300 066 055.

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