The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines contains fact sheets and health-based guideline values for
a number of chemicals that might be present in drinking water. The health-based guideline value
(HBGV) for each chemical is the concentration that, based on present knowledge, does not result in
any significant risk to the health of the consumer over a lifetime of consumption and is consistent
with water of good quality.
In certain circumstances the HBGV of some chemicals in a water supply may be exceeded for a short
period of time without any appreciable risks to public health. This is an important consideration for
local health authorities when, for example, deciding whether or not to shut down a town water
supply after a flood. There is currently no advice on these exposure scenarios in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
At the request of the Australian Government Department of Health, NHMRC has developed draft
Guidance on Short Term Exposure Values to include in Chapter 9 of the Australian Drinking Water
Guidelines. This aims to assist water regulators and suppliers to manage instances where drinking
water contamination occurs, such as during extreme weather events.
The aim of this public consultation is to seek stakeholder feedback on the draft Guidance, including
the proposed approach for deriving or applying short term exposure values.
NHMRC Council has approved public consultation on the draft Guidance. You are invited, under
paragraph 13(d) of the NHMRC Act 1992, to make a submission to NHMRC regarding this draft
Feedback from the public consultation will be addressed by the Water Quality Advisory Committee
(WQAC) in finalising the documents. Following this, approval from NHMRC Council will be sought for
publication in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
NHMRC is seeking responses to specific questions that relate to the draft Guidance on Short Term
Exposure Values. Issues raised on other aspects of water quality are not within scope of this process
and therefore will not be considered.
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