This Committee is providing expert advice on drinking water quality and public health. 

The NHMRC Water Quality Advisory Committee (WQAC) provides expert advice to NHMRC on public health issues related to drinking water quality.

The major role of WQAC is the rolling review of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG). Other activities in WQAC's Work Plan are outlined below. 

WQAC members provide expertise in the fields of microbiology, toxicology, water quality risk assessment and management, water chemistry and recycling, groundwater hydrology, guidelines and methodology. Jurisdiction representatives with knowledge of implementing the ADWG are also members. WQAC has observer members from Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, and Water Services Association Australia. 

WQAC members are members of professional networks and consult within and outside these networks to provide expert advice on water quality issues nationally and internationally.

WQAC convenes working groups to focus on targeted Work Plan activities and may source additional experts where appropriate.

Terms of Reference

The NHMRC’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) provide an authoritative reference on what defines safe, good quality water. The ADWG undergoes rolling review to ensure currency.

Water quality is an important issue requiring a specialist committee to provide technical advice and expertise to the NHMRC. This is part of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) commitment in its current Corporate Plan to maintain a leadership role in the development of public and environmental health advice.

The Water Quality Advisory Committee (the Committee) will:

  1. Guide and provide expert advice on the rolling review of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, focusing on the public health aspects of water quality and priority issues identified by the NHMRC.
  2. Provide rapid scientific and technical advice to the CEO of the NHMRC on current and emerging health issues relating to water quality in Australia, as required.
  3. Provide advice on the translation of research findings into national health related water quality policy and practice initiatives.
  4. Identify evidence gaps in NHMRC water quality guidelines, and advise on the research needs relating to water quality and health.
  5. Work closely with jurisdictional environmental health representatives as required in delivering on the above.

In consultation with NHMRC, the Committee may source expertise from outside the Committee to conduct its activities if required.

The Committee will report to Council of NHMRC. Appointments to the Committee will commence on 2 January 2019 and conclude on 31 December 2021.

Work Plan 2019 - 2021

The WQAC work plan has been developed with input from Commonwealth and state/ territory agencies involved in water quality management, industry groups, water suppliers and the general public. 

WQAC current activities include: 

  • Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG): rolling review of 14 chemical fact sheets on ten prioritised chemicals and four disinfectant by-products 
  • Develop Short Term Exposure Value (STEV) Guidance with the advice of the WQAC Chemical Subgroup. This guidance will describe processes for determining guideline values for short term exposure (up to 7 days) to chemicals that enter drinking water supplies as a result of spills or incidents. 
  • Finalise and publish a revised ADWG Chapter 5 on Microbial quality of drinking water, incorporating new health based targets (HBTs) advised by the WQAC HBT Working Group  
  • Finalise and publish revised ADWG Chapter 7 : Radiological quality of drinking water, and Chapter 10: Monitoring for specific characteristics in drinking water with input from ARPANSA AND WQAC members. 
  • Consider updating the Community Water Planner, a companion resource of the ADWG
  • Cross-reference the Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) 2019 Water sampling guidance for metals in water from plumbing products to the ADWG 
  • Publish NHMRC Guidance on PFAS/PFOA/PFxS (PFAS) in recreational water.
  • Work in collaboration with the enHealth Water Quality Expert Reference Panel on matters related to water quality

WQAC Members 

Chair,
Professor
Frederic
Leusch

School of Environment and Science, Griffith University. Expertise in environmental toxicology, chemical pollutants in the environment, endocrine disruption, bioanalytical tools in water quality assessment, chemical risk assessment and guideline development.

Ms
Miranda
Cumpston

Monash University and University of Newcastle. Expertise in evidence-based public health and systematic reviews.

Dr
David
Cunliffe

South Australian Department for Health and Wellbeing. Expertise in water regulation, microbiology and risk assessment.

Mr
Cameron
Dalgleish

Tasmanian Department of Health. Expertise in environmental science, water quality and risk management, auditing, public health.

Dr
Dan
Deere

Independent consultant from Water Futures. Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales. Expertise in water quality and risk management, data analysis, interpretation and modelling, auditing.

Professor
Cynthia
Joll

Deputy Director at Curtin Water Quality Research Centre, Curtin University. Expertise in analytical chemistry with a focus on disinfection by-products, both in terms of formation, detection and analysis of the chemicals.

Professor
Stuart
Khan

Water Research Centre, University of New South Wales. Expertise in trace chemical contaminants in water, risk assessment, risk management and environmental engineering.

Associate Professor
Susan
Petterson

Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Griffith University. Director, Water & Health Pty Ltd. Editor, Journal of Water and Health. Expertise in Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment and risk assessment software development.

Professor
Craig
Simmons

National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, School of the Environment, Flinders University. Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia. Expertise in groundwater hydrology, hydrological, environmental, earth and applied engineering sciences.

Ms
Carolyn
Stanford

Stanford Marketing. Consumer Representative with expertise in marketing and communications in the water industry.

Dr
Katrina
Wall

Water Unit Health Protection, NSW Health. Expertise in health regulation, water quality risk management and environmental microbiology.

Mr
Amy
Lea (Observer)

Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. Expertise in national water policy and reform.

Dr
Nick
Fletcher (Observer)

Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Expertise in toxicology and risk assessment. 

Mr
Adam
Lovell (Observer)

Executive Director at Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA). Board Chair of the Global Water Research Coalition (GWRC).

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