Risks and risk management

The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines ('the ADWG') provide a framework for good management of drinking water supplies that, if implemented, will assure safety at the point of use.

Although the ADWG are not mandatory standards in NSW, they provide a basis for determining the quality of water to be supplied to consumers in all parts of Australia and are considered best management practice. Rous County Council intends to meet or exceed these standards.

The ADWG contains a preventive strategy for the management of drinking water quality. A framework guides the design of a structured and systematic approach for the management of drinking water quality from catchment to consumer, to assure its safety and reliability.

The framework incorporates a preventive risk management approach. It includes elements of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), ISO 9001 and AS/NZS 4360, but applies them in a drinking water supply context to support consistent and comprehensive implementation by suppliers.

How we manage water quality risks

Rous County Council aims to identify all potential sources of pollution in all parts of the water supply system. This involves identifying risks to water quality in the drinking water catchments, water storage areas (dam and reservoirs), pumping stations, reservoirs and pipelines. All the risks that are identified then need to be managed. In this way, Rous County Council takes a 'multiple barrier' approach to the protection of water quality.

Potential sources of contamination to the water supply, or 'water quality risks', include:

  • catchment pollutants;
  • algae, water weeds, eutrophication and stratification in the water storages;
  • contamination within the distribution system (for example, from birds or other animals getting into reservoirs or rainwater runoff from the reservoir roof);
  • backflow (cross-connection).

Rous County Council employs a range of measures to mitigate these risks, such as using bird proofing mesh on reservoirs, extensive testing of water quality and regular inspections and maintenance.