Department of Health

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed guidance notes to help the water industry comply with Victorian drinking water requirements.

Safe Drinking Water Act 2003

Regulated water (s. 6)

  • 'Regulated water' refers to water that is not intended for drinking but could be mistaken as drinking water.
  • The Minister for Health can declare a water supply as regulated water to protect public health.
  • Suppliers of regulated water need to have an audited risk management plan to prevent people from mistaking the supply as drinking water.
  • Notice of a regulated water declaration is published in the Victoria Government Gazette.
  • The department’s Water Program works with water suppliers to identify regulated water supplies, and advises the Minister whether or not these should be declared as regulated water.

Exemptions (s. 20)

  • Water suppliers can seek exemptions from water quality standards.

Water supplier and water storage manager annual reports (s. 26)

  • Water suppliers and storage managers need to provide an annual report to the department and the public every financial year detailing their water quality and providing details of their regulated water supplies.

Undertakings (s. 30)

  • Water suppliers and storage managers can apply for an undertaking if they are likely to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003 or its associated Regulations.
  • Undertakings detail how a water supplier or storage manager would address a violation of the Act and stop it from happening again.
  • Examples of when you may apply for an undertaking are:
    • if one or more of the water quality standards are not being met
    • if a risk management plan will not be completed by the specified date.

Notifications (ss. 18 and 22)

  • Section 18 of the Act applies when drinking water is unlikely to comply with the standards.
  • Section 22 of the Act applies when drinking water may not be safe.
  • See Notifications for information on s. 18 and s. 22 notifications.
  • If drinking water is suspected of being contaminated, a boil water advisory may be issued. The Australian drinking water guidelines 2011 includes Guidance for issuing and lifting boil water advisories.

Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2015

Water sampling localities

A water sampling locality is a designated area where collected water samples are representative of the area's supplied drinking water.

Water suppliers need to collect drinking water samples from the appropriate water sampling localities. These samples must be analysed and compared with the water quality standards.

Risk management plans

Water agencies must prepare, implement and review risk management plans.

Drinking water quality standards

Water suppliers must ensure their drinking water meets the standards.

Varying sampling frequency

  • Water suppliers can apply to reduce their sampling frequency.
  • The Secretary can also mandate a change to sampling frequency.

Water quality annual report

Water agencies must prepare an annual report on the quality of drinking water and regulated water relating to each financial year as specified by the Regulations. This annual report must be given to the department by 31 October each year, and made available to the public.

Download Guidance: Water quality annual report.

Reviewed 13 June 2024


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