Water quality at public events

This page has advice for providing drinking water at public events or mass gatherings.

The Northern Territory’s (NT) hot weather conditions make the provision of water at events or mass gatherings a very important issue.

An adequate supply of water must always be available for drinking, fire fighting, hygiene purposes and for cooling patrons during events.

Drinking water

All licensed events in the NT  need to provide free drinking water to patrons by law. This minimises both the potential for harm to and the intoxication level of patrons.

For non-licensed activities, event organisers can decide whether to provide drinking water free of charge or at a reasonable cost.

The provision of bottled water on request, or for sale in bottled form is highly recommended as a precaution against drink spiking.

For events where patrons are prohibited from bringing their own food or drinks, it is recommended that patrons be permitted to bring proprietary brand water in clear plastic bottles with unbroken manufacturers seals, or empty plastic containers.

Free drinking water must be provided at the rate of one outlet per 500 people. 

Outlets need to be provided throughout the venue and should be spaced at a maximum of 25m apart.

Water quality

Adequate supplies of water must be provided. All water should be drinking water (potable) as defined by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (2011) on the Australian Government's National Health Medical Research Council website.

In instances where water is limited, it is acceptable to use non drinking water (non-potable) for flushing toilets, etc.

Amount of water

Suggested requirements per person are 20 litres per day with 4 litres specifically for drinking.

For all day events there should be all of the following:

  • a minimum of 2 litres of free drinking water available per person or a rate calculated at 500ml per hour, whichever is the greater
  • one water outlet per 500 people.

Outlets should be reviewed and approved by Environmental Health, for issues of safety, water quality and hygiene.

Water for dousing and spraying patrons

Hosing or drenching of 'mosh pit' patrons is not recommended as this creates a humid effect in the already hot environment but light spraying with drinking (potable) water is recommended.

A dousing station should be established to care for overheated patrons on request. 

These are locations where patrons can be sprayed with drinking (potable) water. Usually simple reticulation fittings are arranged to produce a fine spray or mist through which patrons walk. 

Be careful to dispose of the wastewater in an appropriate manner.

Patrons should be encouraged to drink water before dousing. So a drink water station should be close-by the dousing station. Only drinking water is to be used for dousing patrons.

Contact Environmental Health for more information.

Last updated: 09 February 2016

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