South East Water Limited (SEWL) is one of three retail water authorities operating in Melbourne, Australia. It was the first water authority in Australia to obtain HACCP accreditation for the supply of drinking water, in November 1999. This article presents an overview of the first two years' experience in developing and establishing a food safety management plan using Codex Alimentarius Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) to ensure the water reaching customers is safe, aesthetically pleasant and meets operating licence requirements. HACCP has improved the way in which our distribution and reticulation systems are managed, primarily through the refinement and optimisation of standard operating procedures. In addition, more consideration has been given to the development of contingency plans and the appropriate use of system redundancy to ensure quality of supply. Accreditation was only the beginning of a process. Once attained, there was an ongoing need to maintain and refine hazard measurement and reduction procedures. The major challenge for SEWL has been the integration of HACCP company-wide. Spreading of HACCP was directly achieved through the involvement of operators, key personnel and subcontractors in the assessment of hazards and evaluating the appropriateness of critical control points. This not only assisted with improvements to the existing system, and the identification of system strengths and weaknesses, but was also an integral component in awareness training for HACCP. It was through assessment workshops and training that operators were able to see HACCP as primarily a summary of current practices, but with the focus of improving or maintaining water quality. The net benefits of HACCP are difficult to quantify. Overall there is a greater understanding of water quality issues, more streamlined work procedures, and an improved response to customer enquires relating to water quality. This has been most clearly demonstrated by a net decrease in customer complaints over the two years since HACCP was implemented.

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