Key messages

  • Guidelines have been developed to assist with water supply health management.
  • Guidelines are also available to minimise water supply environmental risks.

There are guidelines to help health services manage water supply health and environmental risks.

Water reuse and recycling non-drinking applications

Guidelines for water reuse and recycling in Victorian healthcare facilities, non-drinking applications has been developed to help healthcare facilities address the management of human health risks associated with reusing and recycling water for non-drinking applications.

These guidelines cover preventative risk management principles and the development of a risk management plan.

Roof-collected rainwater can be used for many non-drinking water purposes in healthcare facilities, provided it is managed and used appropriately.

Additional guidance on the use of rainwater for non-drinking applications is provided in Rainwater use in urban communities: guidelines for non-drinking applications in multi-residential, commercial and community facilities.

Rainwater for drinking in non-reticulated areas

It is not recommended that rainwater be used for drinking or food preparation in areas where a reticulated drinking water supply is provided. The quality of rainwater collected from roof catchments is generally not the same standard and is not as reliable as mains drinking water provided by water corporations, which has been treated to a level that is safe for human consumption.

Drinking water supplied by water corporations in Victoria is covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003, and as a result it must meet stringent health standards and be managed in accordance with a risk management plan, which is subject to regulatory oversight.

Safe water supply

Healthcare facilities have a duty of care to provide a safe water supply, especially for patients who are very ill or immunocompromised. The security, risk management and maintenance of water quality and infrastructure are important to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water.

Using rainwater

For healthcare facilities that do not have access to a water corporation-managed drinking water supply, rainwater can be used for drinking and food preparation, provided the water is appropriately managed to ensure it is safe for human consumption.

Managing the quality of drinking water supplied by a rainwater tank requires ongoing commitment and expertise to ensure the protection of human health. It is recommended that the rainwater system is designed and installed by a water-treatment professional. Additionally, a risk management plan for the rainwater system should be developed that includes regular maintenance and monitoring activities.

Food premises associated with healthcare facilities that are registered under the Food Act 1984 are required by law to treat and manage drinking water supplies to make them safe for human consumption.

Specifically, through its referral to the Food Standards Code, the Victorian Food Act requires that food businesses use drinking (potable) water for food preparation at registered food premises. This includes water used for washing food ingredients, cooking, adding to food and drinks, making ice, cleaning, sanitising and hand-washing.

Guidelines for private drinking water supplies

Guidelines for private drinking water supplies at commercial and community facilities has been developed for commercial and community facilities that do not have access to a reticulated (mains) drinking water supply, and that supply people with drinking water or commercially prepared or processed food.

Where to find further information

Rainwater for non-drinking purposes

  • Guidelines for water reuse and recycling in Victorian healthcare facilities, non-drinking applications
  • Rainwater use in urban communities: Guidelines for non-drinking applications in multi-residential, commercial and community facilities

Rainwater for drinking water in non-reticulated areas

  • Guidelines for private drinking water supplies at commercial and community facilities
  • Guidance on the use of rainwater tanks

Cooling towers and recycled water

  • Cooling towers and recycled water, refer to Legionella risk management

Legionella Risk Management Program

The department’s information about Legionella includes a guide for developing a risk management plan and guidelines for auditing risk management plans for cooling tower systems.