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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1666..


(3) I am advised that the supply of drinking water in the ACT is defined as a "Licensable Public Health Risk Activity"under the Public Health Act 1997, and as such, is licensed under that Act. Under the terms of the licence, ACTEW must comply with the ACT Department of Health and Community Care (DHACC) Drinking Water Quality Code of Practice 2000. This code covers such areas as testing frequencies, water quality testing and the publication of results.


I am informed that the technical requirements for water quality testing are referenced from the most recent Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) as published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ). ACTEW advises me that it designed the drinking water monitoring program to meet the requirements of the NHMRC Guidelines, plus any additional requirements contained in the Code of Practice. This approach is consistent with other water utilities throughout the country.


I am advised by ACTEW that, as the licensee, it carries out a comprehensive monitoring program that fully complies with the Code of Practice. The analysis data is reviewed by DHACC on a regular basis.

(4) ACTEW advises that water is tested for a range of chemical, biological and microbiological characteristics, as specified in the above guidelines. There are many types of tests, however, the most common are the bacteriological tests for total coliforms, faecal coliforms and total plate count. Chemical and physical tests such as colour, turbidity, pH levels, temperature, residual chlorine, and metals (copper, iron, manganese and lead) are also performed routinely on all samples.


I am further advised that an extended range of other tests are also carried out at varying intervals to ensure that the NHMRC guidelines are met, and that the ensuing results will be chemically and statistically reliable and meaningful. Some of these additional test types include fluoride, alkalinity, hardness, calcium, magnesium, boron, aluminium, mercury and trihalomethanes, plus around 12 other heavy metals, anions and cyanide.


Key water quality parameters are reported and published annually in Annual Drinking Water Quality Report.

(5) I am advised by ACTEW that microbiological quality is the most frequent and immediate measure of drinking water quality, and the NHMRC guidelines specify certain minimum frequencies for microbiological monitoring, based on population. The current program exceeds these requirements by allowing for approximately 960 samples per year, spread over 4 separate reporting zones, and scattered randomly throughout each zone.


ACTEW informs me that, on average, 80 samples per month are analysed for all the microbiological tests as well as colour, turbidity, pH level, temperature, residual chlorine, copper, iron, manganese and lead. The tests for fluoride, alkalinity, hardness, calcium, magnesium, boron, aluminium, mercury, trihalomethanes, and heavy metals are carried out on average 20 times per month, and the remaining tests around 5 times per month.

(6) Key water quality parameters are reported and published annually in Annual Drinking Water Quality Report. Below are the results of the water quality tests conducted over the past 18 months.


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