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Australian Government: National Measurement InstituteAustralian Government: National Measurement Institute
National Measurement Institute
      

Drinking Water

""Drinking water is defined as water intended primarily for human consumption, either directly as delivered or indirectly in beverages, ice or food prepared with water. Drinking water is also used for other domestic purposes such as bathing and showering.

With the exception of bottled or packaged water (see below) the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG) applies to any water intended for drinking irrespective of the source (municipal supplies, rainwater tanks, bores etc) or where it is consumed (the home, restaurants, camping areas, shops etc).

The ADWG is not mandatory, however it provides the basis for determining the quality of water supplied to consumers in Australia by:

  • providing a framework for good management of drinking water supplies
  • assuring the safety of drinking water
  • providing health and aesthetic guideline values for chemical, physical, microbiological and radiological water quality characteristics

Please note that ADWG does not address water used for specialised purposes such as renal dialysis and some industrial purposes where water of more stringent quality may be required.

Bottled and packaged water are subject to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.The Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) Model Code has also been developed as a standard of excellence for the production of bottled waters. Bottled water produced by ABWI members must meet the ABWI assurance program, which lists a strict set of standards for the safe processing of bottled water. The requirements of the Model Code exceed those of the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code.

NMI’s Capabilities

We are able to undertake a wide range of tests in our NATA-accredited laboratories (NATA 198 and 1388), namely microbiological, radiological, physical and chemical (organic and inorganic) tests.

Standard turnaround time (depending on batch size) is 5 to 7 working days, however it is;

  • 10 working days for microbiological tests;
  • 10 to 15 working days for radionuclide tests; and
  • 20 working days for ultra-trace dioxin tests.

If you require a shorter turnaround time, contact us before you despatch the samples (premiums apply).

Click here for some more information on testing drinking water for domestic use.

For further information please contact customerservice@measurement.gov.au, 1300 722 845 or use our on-line form.

Tests Limit of reporting (*lower LOR available upon request, standard LOR, lower LOR) Reference method

Microbiological tests
   
Standard bacterial count <15 cfu/mL AS 4276.3.1:2007, AS 4276.3.2:2003
Legionella <10 cfu/mL AS/NZS 3896:2008
Pseudomonas aeruginosa <1 cfu/100 mL, <1 MPN/100 mL AS 4276.13:2008, Psuedalert
Coliforms <1 cfu/100 mL, <1 MPN/100 mL AS 4276.6:2007, AS 4276.5:2007, Colilert-18
Thermotolerant (faecal) coliforms <1 cfu/100 mL, <1 MPN/100 mL AS 4276.6:2007, AS 4276.7:2007
Escherichia coli <1 cfu/100 mL, <1 MPN/100 mL AS 4276.6:2007, AS 4276.7:2007, Colilert-18
Clostridium perfringens <1 cfu/100 mL AS 4276.17.1:2000
Enterococci <1 MPN/100 mL Enterolert – ASTM D6503-99

Radionuclide tests
   
Gross alpha 5 mBq/L (0.135 pCi/L) subcontracted to NATA lab
Gross beta 10 mBq/L (0.27 pCi/L) subcontracted to NATA lab
Radium 226 3 mBq/L (0.081 pCi/L) subcontracted to NATA lab
Radium 228 100 mBq/L (2.7 pCi/L) subcontracted to NATA lab

Chemical and physical tests
 
Absorbance (UV) 0.005 Abs APHA 5910 B, APHA 2120C
Alcohols (methanol, ethanol, propanol) 1 mg/L NMI method
Alkalinity (bicarbonate, carbonate, hydroxide, total as CaCO3) 5 mg/L* APHA 2320 B
Ammonia-N 0.005 mg/L APHA 4500-NH3 A, B, F and G
Bromate 0.000 1 mg/L US EPA Method 302.0
Bromide (soluble) 0.1 mg/L, 0.005 mg/L APHA 4110 B (IC)
Carbon dioxide 5 mg/L APHA 4500-CO2C
Chloramine, chlorine – total and free (bottled water only, otherwise field test) 0.05 mg/L APHA 4500-CI G, APHA 21st edn
Chlorate 0.000 1 mg/L US EPA Method 302.0
Chloride 0.1 mg/L, 0.002 mg/L APHA 4110 B (IC)
Chlorite 0.000 1 mg/L US EPA Method 302.0
Chloroacetic acids 0.01 mg/L USEPA 552
Chromium – hexavalent (Cr 6+) 0.001 mg/L AS 2882:1986
Colour (apparent and true) 2 colour / Hazen units* APHA 2120 B
Conductivity 1 µS/cm APHA 2510 B
Cyanide – total 0.005 mg/L APHA 4500-CNC and N
Dioxins – polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) – ultra trace levels 1–5 × 10–9 mg/L US EPA 1613B, 8290
Estrogens (17β-estradiol, estrone, ethinylestradiol) 5 × 10–6 mg/L NMI method
Fluoride (soluble) 0.1 mg/L, 0.005 mg/L APHA 4500-F C (ISE) and APHA 4110 B (IC)
Formaldehyde 0.05 mg/L subcontracted
Hardness – calcium, magnesium, total 5 mg/L APHA 2340 C
Iodide (soluble) 0.1 mg/L, 0.005 mg/L APHA 4110 B
Iodine 0.005 mg/L US EPA 200.8, ICPMS
Iron – ferrous 0.05 mg/L APHA 3500-Fe B
Light hydrocarbons (n-C1 to n-C5) 1–10 × 10– 3 mg/L US EPA RSK175
Metals and metalloids 0.005 – 0.000 1 mg/L US EPA 200.8/.7, ICPMS/AES
Nitrate (NO3) 0.005 mg/L APHA 4500-NO3I
Nitrite (NO2) 0.005 mg/L APHA 4500-NO3I
Odour NA APHA 2150B
Organic matter (oxidisability) 3 mg/L Fresnius (1988)
Organotin compounds 2 × 10-6 mg/L GC-ICPMS NMI method
PCB arochlors 0.1 × 10–3 mg/L, 0.01 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8082
PCB congeners 0.01 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8082
Perchlorate 0.006 mg/L US EPA Method 314.2
Pesticides – fungicides 0.1 × 10–3 mg/L GC-MS/MS NMI method
Pesticides – herbicides (general NR4) 0.1 × 10–3 mg/L GC-MS/MS NMI method
Pesticides – herbicides – glyphosate and derivatives 10 × 10–3 mg/L LC-MS/MS NMI method
Pesticides – herbicides – phenoxy acids 1 × 10–3 mg/L NMI method
Pesticides – triazine herbicides 0.1 × 10–3 mg/L, 0.01 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8141
Pesticides – insecticides (carbamates) 0.1 × 10–3 mg/L GC-MS/MS NMI method
Pesticides – insecticides (synthetic pyrethroids) 0.1 × 10–3 mg/L, 0.01 × 10–3 mg/L GC-MS/MS NMI method
Pesticides – organochlorine (OC) 0. 1–0.01 × 10–3 mg/L, 0.001 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8081 or GC-MS/MS NMI method
Pesticides – organophosphate (OP) 0.1 × 10–3 mg/L, 0.01 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8141 or GC-MS/MS NMI method
pH (field test recommended) NA APHA 4500-H+ B
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) 0.5–1 × 10–3 mg/L, 0.01 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8270,
US EPA 8260 (modified)
Phenols (speciated) 1 × 10–3 mg/L, 0.1–0.2 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8270 (modified)
Phosphate – ortho 0.005 mg/L APHA 4500-P G
Phthalates (plasticisers) 10–20 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8270 (modified)
Polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDE) – ultra trace levels 10 × 10–6 mg/L US EPA 1614
Semi-volatile organic hydrocarbons (SVOC) including chlorinated hydrocarbons, ethers, amines, nitroaromatics, nitrosamines 10–20 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8270 (modified)
Silica 0.05 mg/L* APHA 4500-SiO2 E
Solids – total dissolved 1 mg/L calculated from conductivity
Sulphate 0.1 mg/L, 0.002 mg/L APHA 4110 B and 4500-SO42– E
Sulphide – dissolved 0.02 mg/L AS 3550.1–1988
Sulphide – total 0.05 mg/L* APHA 4500-S2– A and D
Thiocyanate 0.1 mg/L APHA 4500-CN M
Trihalomethanes 1 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8260 (modified)
Turbidity 0.1 NTU APHA 2130 B
Volatile organic hydrocarbons (VOC) incl. monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, halogenated aliphatic hydrocarbons, halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons 1–2 × 10–3 mg/L US EPA 8260 (modified)