What does the colour of your water mean for you?

With the summer months approaching, the temperature will increase and accordingly, the demand on our water supply will rise. With increased demand, Hilltops residents are likely to see an increase in the instances of discoloured water in the regions water supply.  As a result, Hilltops Council have prepared the following information for residents to help them better understand how to manage the discoloration of supplied water.

What to do when discoloured water runs from your taps

  1. Run the tap near the water meter located on your property boundary to see if the water is clear. This will identify if the cause of discolouration is contained within property or if the discoloured water is coming from the distribution main.
  2. If the water at the boundary tap is clear, then the discolouration is caused by internal plumbing. If the problem persists, a plumber may need to be contacted by you.
  3. If the water at the boundary tap is discoloured, then the customer should run the tap for a reasonable amount of time (3 to 4 minutes) and see if the discolouration disappears.
  4. If the discolouration persists the customer should contact your closest Hilltops Council office during business hours. Staff will visit your property to flush the water meter and/or nearby water mains and rectify the water discolouration issue.
  5. We recommend that residents check water colour before washing laundry during summer months.
  6. Discoloured water can be used safely on gardens and lawns.
  7. Please note, that Council does not provide compensation in relation to discolored water supply.

What causes discoloured water?

The frequency and severity of water discolouration can vary due to water source, treatment technologies, age of infrastructure and system design. Therefore, water discolouration can be caused by one or many factors, such as:

  1. Aging water main infrastructure - old pipelines can have a build-up of natural minerals, such as iron and manganese, causing discoloured water.
  2. Mix of high and low water supply demand in the network disturbing natural sediments in pipes – low demand for water supply in the pipe line can cause discoloration due to the length of time the water is in contact with the build-up of minerals and oppositely, high demand periods (e.g. hot summer, drought, etc.) can cause mineral deposits to be stripped from the lining of the pipe and transported to downstream connections, resulting in discolouration.
  3. Galvanised pipe material in internal plumbing - there are cases where water discolouration is caused by corroded galvanised water pipes on customer's private properties.
  4. Aging hot water system can also contribute to discolouration of supplied water.  

Is my water safe to drink and bathe in?

  1. Yes. Discoloured water, as regulated under the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, is deemed to be an aesthetic matter rather than a public health compliance matter. The reddish-brown coloured particles (which are oxidised colloidal iron and manganese precipitates) sometime found in your water are non-hazardous elements.
  2. Council management practices include the regular application of chlorine and testing of daily water samples across the network. Discoloured water is not a risk to the public when enough chlorine residual is maintained within the network.
  3. Council acknowledges that the incidence of water colour/odour can be a nuisance in a water supply and can cause staining of laundry and fixtures. We apologise for this inconvenience.

What’s next?

Council has committed to a water mains replacement program as part of ongoing budgets which will allow us to meet higher industry benchmarks. We will gradually renew sections of aging mains over time which will improve the reliability of water quality.

Furthermore, water mains flushing of the network will be commencing soon in each town across the region which will help to remove the build-up in pipes that may cause discoloured water.