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Water Quality

Why do I occasionally experience low pressure or no water?


Planned Impacts

For all planned works that may impact on water supply, we endeavour to notify all customers in advance that they may be affected. Sometimes, due to the complex nature of how the water is supplied through the network, there can be unforeseen impacts, which we have to deal with in a reactive manner.


Unplanned Impacts

In water operations, reactive works regularly have to be carried out on an unscheduled basis – identifying damaged water infrastructure can require exploratory works which may have an unknown impact on local supply. Flushing a main to address discoloration can have an unintended impact of lowering pressure in neighbouring areas. Usually these impacts are very short term and very localised, minimising the impact on customers and this is the practical approach that we take.



Impact of low pressure or interruption to supply


When mains pressure is reinstated, water discoloration can occur – speed of water can pick up sediment and air can be trapped. Water with sediment looks discoloured whilst aerated water looks white. Sediment settles in a glass (water clears from the top down), whilst air rises (water clears from the bottom upwards). Similar problems are experienced if water crews have to open valves to help water into an area. Where we can, we try to flush the mains to minimise this problem.



Why do we occasionally get dirty water?

 

A combination of circumstances can create dirty water, but the most common is when sediment is dislodged from our water supply mains.

 

Sediments accumulate in pipelines due to unavoidable changes in the chemistry of the water as it passes through the reticulation network.

 

Trace elements, such as iron and manganese, come out of solution and accumulate in the distribution pipes over long periods of time until they are dislodged by a sudden increase in the rate of flow. These trace elements occur naturally in all water sources because most substances are soluble in water.



Is the water safe to drink?

 

Discolouration is generally an aesthetic issue, with a slight taste making the water unpleasant to drink. The best advice is that if you personally have any concerns don't drink the water until it clears.

 

Although contamination of the water supply with substances that could have an adverse impact on health is very unlikely, Council has emergency procedures to deal with such potential events.

 

These are based on regular monitoring of the supplies and could involve shutting down Council's water treatment plants to prevent contaminated water being distributed, draining of service reservoirs to remove contaminated water from the system and alerting the public by a variety of means.



Why does Council flush the mains & waste water?
 

This is a common and very understandable question, particularly in a dry time.

 

It is not a pleasant sight to watch hundreds of litres of water being flushed down the drain. Unfortunately there is no other way to clear dirty water from mains. Wherever possible we try to do the main scouring in places where the water can be returned to the catchment via our drainage systems.



What do I do if the washing gets dirty?

 

If you get caught with a load of dirty washing, the best idea is to keep the washing wet. Don't hang it up. If you have some of the commercial products, like nappy stain removers, in the house that should do the trick with another wash, after the dirty water is removed from the system.

 

If that fails Council will provide you with a bottle of a detergent with a high concentration of citric acid, which is also very effective.



How do I get rid of the dirty water from house pipes?

 

Council's scouring or flushing procedures will remove dirty water from the mains, but it will not remove the problem from the water in your house pipes.

 

After the mains have been cleared, house pipes can be easily cleared by turning on a couple of cold water taps, slowly at first and preferably at the end of the line, to expel built up air pressure.

 

An outside garden tap at the back of the house is best and you won't waste the water if you run it on the garden. Milky coloured water is a sign of air trapped in the supply system and should clear with flushing. 



What about my hot water system?

 

Hot water systems over time will acquire some sediment in them regardless of the quality of the water. It is suggested that if you do have dirty water, do not use your hot water unless it is absolutely necessary.

 

If dirty water does infiltrate your hot water system it will settle overnight. As hot water is drawn from the top of the tank for pressure systems, and from the lower 80% for gravity systems, it should not pose a problem if allowed to settle overnight.



What if there is an interruption to water supply?


Sometimes Council staff need to turn off the water supply to carry out essential work on the water mains. Care should be taken to ensure that water heaters and washing machines are not used and taps are left closed while the water supply is shut off.

 

You may elect to turn off the household water at the meter and wait until the remedial work has finished before returning your service to normal.

 

After restoration of the water supply, open taps slowly at first to allow any trapped air to escape. This is particularly important prior to operation of the hot water systems, washing machines and other appliances.

 

Again it is best to use an outside tap at the back of the house and use the water on your garden. If discoloured water appears, flush the pipe by running a full flow until the water clears.

Last Updated: February 10th, 2017
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