In 2009 a new regulatory framework was introduced for Queensland potable water providers. Reporting on drinking water quality to the Office of the Water Supply Regulator (DERM) became mandatory for all Providers on 2 January 2009. Mandatory Drinking Water Quality Management Plans (DWQMPs) were required from large WSPs in March 2011 and in 2012 and 2013 for medium and small providers respectively.
qldwater played a crucial role in influencing the development of state guidelines and processes to simplify the transition for WSPs to statutory reporting and developing DWQMPs. Mandatory DWQMPs were introduced at a time when the industry was labouring under a raft of duplicative statutory planning requirements and were not initially supported by the industry if they were "just another plan". However, appropriate planning and management of drinking water quality has always been a priority for the urban water industry and qldwater has since strongly supported their retention while red tape reduction saw the demise of many other statutory plans.
The new Queensland guidelines were designed to follow the risk-based approach of the internationally respected Australian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines (ADWG). Most other jurisdictions have documents similar to the DWQMPs and the ADWG already underpinned many of the existing water quality programs of Queensland WSPs.
The industry continues to work with the Regulator to develop DWQMPs and support activities including skilling and meet the State requirements while maintaining community health and safety as the key priority. This partnership between industry and the regulator is leading to a constantly improving framework to ensure the ongoing provision of safe drinking water to Queensland communities.
At an operational level, qldwater was able to secure a clear articulation from the State that instantaneous coliform testing kits are an acceptable complementary tool to laboratory testing. This addresses some of the most critical issues for remote service providers in testing water quality, namely the ‘shelf life’ of water samples and the ability to respond immediately to results of water quality testing.
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