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Water quality problems

There are many reasons why your water may suddenly taste, smell or look different. 

Generally there are three common water quality problems that you may experience:

  • colour
  • taste and smell
  • effect on soap and saucepans when washing

Faults and maintenance work on our water pipes can also result in temporary changes to your water supply.  

  • Sediment in the water supply system

    Our water contains low levels of naturally occurring sediments. As water flows through our pipes, the sediment can build up in our water mains.  When there is an increased flow of water in the pipes, due to a burst or works in our network, this sediment can be stirred up and can result in discolouration. 

    Small particles in the water can also be caused by internal pipes that are rusting.

    Try running your tap on full for a few minutes to clear the problem.

    If you cannot clear the water by turning a tap on full for a few minutes, the problem probably lies outside your property with the water supply system. This can become a particular problem with courts and dead-end streets.

    In most cases such problems only persist for a short time. If not, call us on
    13 2762 for assistance.

  • White, cloudy or milky water

    White or milky water can be caused by very small air bubbles in the water. Aerated water cannot do you any harm.

    Water can become aerated when air gets into our supply network and also can be caused by the hot water service at your property. To determine if there is air in the water, fill a glass of cold water and let it settle for a few minutes. If it clears from the bottom up then the air has been aerated.

    If you have concerns about drinking aerated water, we recommend you fill an open container with water and allow it to sit for a few minutes, so the air can be released.  Once the air has been dispersed and the water is clear, use the water as you normally would.  

    Cloudy water (not air bubbles) can be due to corroding copper pipes. 

    If you have concerns about cloudy water or experience persistent issues with aerated water, please contact us on 13 2762.

  • Yellow to rusty-brown water or rusty stains on washing

    Causes can include

    • Rusting galvanised iron pipes on property.
    • Ageing galvanised iron pipes within properties are a common cause of discoloured water and an unpleasant taste. Choked with rust, they can also drastically reduce water pressure. The best solution is to replace the old pipes with new copper or plastic pipes.
    • Stains on washing may be due to rusting iron pipes but they can also be caused by other factors, e.g. fabric softeners.

    Turn a tap on full for a few minutes. If the water clears, the colour or sediment probably results from rusting galvanised iron pipes on your property.

  • Water with a blue or green tinge

    This is a complex problem which can be caused by corroding copper pipes on your property. Please contact us on 13 2762 for advice.

  • Brackish, metallic or stale taste

    This can be caused by:

    • Rusting galvanised iron pipes on property.
    • Ageing galvanised iron pipes within properties are a common cause of unpleasant taste. Choked with rust, they can also drastically reduce water pressure. The best solution is to replace the old pipes with new copper or plastic pipes.

    Turn a tap on full for a few minutes. If the taste disappears, it probably results from rusting galvanised iron pipes on your property. Please contact us on 13 2762 for help in determining the exact cause.

  • Slight smell of chlorine

    Mild chlorination is an essential part of the process of purifying water, but just occasionally the chlorine taste is noticeable. If you do smell chlorine, we can usually take steps to improve the situation. Please call us on 13 2762.

  • Poor lathering of soap

    The presence of calcium in water affects soap and various saucepans. Calcium is leached from new cement-lined mains and occurs most often in new subdivisions.

    In time the pipes will stabilise, but if you have a continuing problem, please call us on 13 2762.

  • Concerns about lead

    Drinking water and public health

    Our drinking water is among the safest in the world and governed by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and the Safe Drinking Water Regulations (Vic) 2015.  We are committed to providing customers with the highest quality water which is rigorously tested to ensure the water in the supply network is safe and meets all regulatory requirements.

    A 2018 enHealth Guidance Statement advised on the potential of lead leaching into drinking water from some brass plumbing fittings, particularly where the water has been sitting in internal plumbing for extended periods of time, typically overnight or after weekends. The advice is summarised below.

    EnHealth Advice

    • There is no need for households to test water for lead. The recommendation is to use water from cold taps for drinking and cooking and to regularly flush taps if there are concerns around lead.
    • The Victorian Government does not believe the Commonwealth health advice to run water before using your tap would lead to a significant drop in Victoria's water storages, even if every Victorian adopted the advice in full.

    Good practice for reducing potential exposure to lead in your water supply

    The Environmental Health Standing Committee (enHealth) has released good practice advice that households can take to reduce their potential exposure to lead in drinking water. Australia’s Chief Medical Officer recently endorsed this advice.

    • Use water from cold taps only for drinking and cooking.
    • Flush cold-water taps used for drinking and cooking for about 30 seconds first thing in the morning to draw fresh water through the tap.
    • Flush cold-water taps used for drinking and cooking for about two to three minutes after long periods of non-use, such as return from holidays; this 'flushed' water can be collected and used for washing up.
    • Public drinking water fountains and publicly accessible taps should also be flushed for about 30 seconds to draw fresh water to the outlet.
    • Buildings and asset managers should adopt best practice measures and maintain the quality of water which includes a regular flushing regime to remove stagnant water and progressive replacement of lead-containing plumbing products.
    • Choosing plumbing products that have been certified to WaterMark and AS/NZS 4020:2005; and/or have low lead content or are lead free, when renovating or building.

    Choosing plumbing products that have been certified to WaterMark and AS/NZS 4020:2005; and/or have low lead content or are lead free, when renovating or building.

    More information

    Information on lead in drinking water on health.gov.au

    Lead in plumbing products

More information

If you are ever concerned or want more information about the quality of your water, please contact us on 13 2762 or view water quality reports available online.