Canberra's drinking water as healthy as ever

October 23, 2020

In a year that’s seen some major impacts to Canberra’s environment and health, Icon Water’s 2019-20 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report highlights the importance of delivering high quality, safe drinking water with the utility confirming 100% compliance to the ACT’s Public Health (Drinking Water) Code of Practice (2007).

Over the last twelve months, Canberrans have been faced with smoke, hail, bushfires, drought and COVID-19. Throughout every crisis the community has tackled, many have turned their attention to the potential effect on the ACT’s drinking water supply.

Icon Water General Manager Gerard Brierley said “We’re proud of the role that Icon Water play in delivering safe and secure drinking water to the region".

“We are fortunate to have some of the best drinking water in Australia, and we feel privileged to have provided this service to the Canberra community for over 100 years”.

With each of the challenges that the ACT has faced this year, Icon Water have received questions from the community as to how water quality will be impacted.

With the ongoing smoke and encroaching bushfires across the region in late 2019, there were concerns as to whether this would contaminate Canberra’s water supply. Particularly when the Orroral Valley bushfire reached the Cotter catchment, and the landscape surrounding the Corin Dam was severely damaged. 

Although there has been no evidence of COVID-19 being transferred through water, the role of drinking water and its ability to support public health also brought the ACT’s water supply into question. 

Throughout 2019-20 Icon Water treated and supplied over 55,000 megalitres of water to Canberra and Queanbeyan residents.

Icon Water’s 2019-20 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report explains in detail the rigorous water quality management framework in place along with the water utility’s multi-barrier approach to protecting the ACT’s water supply and public health. 

“Our multi-barrier approach to ensuring water quality starts as far upstream as where the water is sourced, and includes the option to switch between three separate catchments (Cotter, Googong and Upper Murrumbidgee). Our ability to draw water from different levels within the dams to select the highest quality raw water for treatment also provides an additional level of quality control” explained Mr Brierley.

This operational flexibility offers a level of protection should part of the ACT’s water network be impacted by bushfire or concerns relating to the raw water supply.  

“The water is then treated at either the Stromlo or Googong Water treatment plant. We also have the option to use different components of the process to address any changes in raw water quality where additional water treatment is required”. 

Icon Water also has a comprehensive water quality monitoring program across its supply and distribution systems and uses this data to verify water quality and monitor trends. Icon Water’s water quality monitoring includes test results from Icon Water’s reservoirs, treatment plants and distribution network, as well as directly from customers’ taps.

Approximately 400 customers take part in this quality assurance program, which saw more than 1,200 routine water samples collected across Canberra homes.

“We have arrangements in place with customers across Canberra to test the water that flows from their taps. Our monitoring results are then verified with independent NATA-certified laboratory analysis of samples from our treatment plants and the network”. 

Results from the laboratory analysis confirms Icon Water’s 100 per cent compliance with the Public Health (Drinking Water) Code of Practice (2007).

“We have a team of experts that manage and monitor Canberra’s drinking water quality and we’re really proud to consistently provide residents with the high quality, safe drinking water that they’ve come to expect”.

“Canberrans can be confident that we have the right people, systems and processes in place to manage the ACT’s drinking water supply throughout any challenge our community faces” said Mr Brierley.

For the full report go to iconwater.com.au/DWQR