Drinking water quality

Leaking tap The quality of Tweed’s drinking water is equal to the best bottled water in the world.

Bottled water is regulated as a packaged food product by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), but the regulation of our tap water is even more stringent.

The Public Health Act and Regulation requires our water quality assurance program to comply with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

We test our tap water every week for a wide range of chemical and microbiological particles, ensuring it is always safe to drink.

Our own NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) accredited Tweed Laboratory Centre does the testing for Council. You can submit your own sample at the Tweed Lab.

Why our tap water is better than bottled

Tap water from the reticulated water supply in the Tweed is treated at one of our water treatment plants prior to reaching your home.

Tweed tap water has a lower salt and mineral content than bottled water but a higher calcium content (again, it varies depending on where the bottled water comes from).

Our Bray Park Water Treatment Plant is state-of-the-art. We receive interest from overseas water authorities and study tours of the facility in Murwillumbah.

The immersed membrane ultra-filtration facility features the latest membrane technology, providing a greater than 99.9 per cent level of filtration (removing 99.99 per cent of suspended solids, bacteria and parasites (Cryptosporidium and Giardia) and particle-bonded viruses).

We also have water treatment plants in the villages of Tyalgum and Uki.

Thanks to our water treatment regime and weekly testing, you can always rely on the quality of our water. By comparison, the quality of bottled water varies a lot, depending on where it comes from.

How much will you pay?

If you’re buying bottled water, you’re paying up to 2000 times more than Tweed tap water.

A 600 mL bottle of water could cost as much as $3.50 (you can buy 1000 litres of Tweed tap water for $2.96).

Even if you buy your bottled water in bulk and get a bargain price of $1.50 a litre, you’re still paying 730 times more than what Council charges.

What’s the real cost?

It takes one litre of water to produce a 500mL bottle of water.

Council charges a cost-recovery price for its water.

What’s in our water?

We add fluoride to help protect our children’s teeth. According to the Dental Association of Australia there has been a rise in childhood dental decay. This might be a coincidence but it might be due to the increased consumption of bottled water, which usually does not contain fluoride.

Fluoride

It is NSW Health policy to add fluoride to drinking water, mainly to prevent tooth decay. Consistent with this policy, Council has added fluoride to the Tweed's main water supply since 1976. However, Council's two small village water supplies at Tyalgum and Uki are not fluoridated due to their small size.

The addition of fluoride is regulated via the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act, Regulation and Code of Practice. These documents and some useful factsheets can be found on the NSW Health website

Further information about fluoride can be found on the National Health and Medical Research Council website.

How we ensure high-quality drinking water

Council provides high-quality drinking water that consistently meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and regulatory requirements, as well as our customers expectations. To achieve this, we:

  • manage water quality throughout the supply chain from the water catchment areas to our customers
  • use a risk-based approach where potential threats to water quality are identified and managed
  • regularly test and report on the quality of drinking water
  • develop appropriate contingency plans and incident response capability to deal with incidents
  • regularly review maintenance and asset management programs.

If, at any time, you feel you have become unwell as a result of drinking Tweed water please contact Council immediately. We have a protocol to minimise any health risk from our drinking water supply which includes contacting all relevant authorities, including the Department of Health.

water-drinking-quality-2.jpg Boil-water alert

If there is a concern that the water supply has been contaminated, Tweed Shire Council in conjunction with NSW Department of Health, will issue a Boil-Water Alert.

Boiling your water will kill disease-causing organisms.

If a Boil-Water Alert is issued, make sure that drinking water is boiled for at least three minutes. Refrigerate the water after boiling.

Uki and Tyalgum water quality

During heavy rain, raw water turbidity creates water treatment inefficiencies and the Uki Water Treatment Plant is switched off until the raw water quality becomes suitable for treatment again. Similar problems occur at times of high algae counts in the raw water.

When this happens, water from the Bray Park supply is tankered in to the reservoirs at Uki and/or Tyalgum. Residents may notice a different taste in the water because of the slight difference in raw water supply quality and the treatment processes.

If we need to tanker in water for a long time, Council may implement water restrictions to reduce consumption. When this happens, water carters are no longer permitted to extract water from the Uki supply.

Change of odour, taste, colour or hardness 

Changes in water quality can result in a change of odour, taste, colour or hardness. For further details, click on the following water quality symptoms and contact us if you have any concerns.

Chlorine, bleach, chemical or medicinal taste/odour

Potential causes

  • Chlorine is common in most treated water supplies and is used to ensure drinking water does not cause health problems
  • Chlorinated water may also contain disinfection by-products, which are formed when chlorine reacts with compounds already in the water. Disinfection by-products have a distinctive odour. The interaction of chlorine and materials such as plastic electric kettles can also cause odours in water

Corrective measures

  • Chlorine levels in the Tweed are generally less than 0.6 mg/ L, well below the NHMRC limit of 5mg/L. The concentration of disinfection by products is also monitored to ensure levels meet health guidelines.
  • If you are experiencing unusually high levels of chlorine types odours you can contact us for more information.

Sulphurous, decayed, or sewage like taste/odour

Potential causes

  • Over time, organic matter (such as hair, soap, and food waste) can accumulate on the walls of the drain and bacteria can grow on these organic deposits. The bacteria can produce a gas which is disturbed when water is used.
  • Sulphur compounds in the water supply.

Corrective measures

  • Clean and/or flush the drain.

Musty, mouldy, earthy, grassy or fishy taste/odour

Potential causes

  • Certain types of algae, fungi, and bacteria growing in the water supply, especially during warm weather.
  • Algae can come from the raw water supply or grow within the reticulation network.

Corrective measures

  • Council monitors algae levels during the water treatment process and has facilities to remove these substances when required.
  • If you wish to remove this type of smell from your water then you can fit a carbon treatment device to your tap.

Petroleum, gasoline, turpentine, fuel-like or solvent-like odour

Potential causes

  • Although this problem is rare, it is potentially serious.
  • New plastic pipes and plumbing may give a slight taste and odour to water but this should be temporary.
  • If polyethylene pipes are used outside there is potential for absorbing hydrocarbons if they come in contact with one another.

Corrective measures

Metallic taste

Potential causes

  • Corrosion of iron or copper pipes on your property. High levels of copper can cause short-term health problems like diarrhoea and cramping. Iron has no effect on health.
  • Zinc and manganese are less common causes of a metallic taste.

Corrective measures

  • The presence of these metals can be confirmed by having the water tested. See Tweed Laboratory Centre for more information.

Other tastes/odours

Potential causes

  • Old galvanised pipes inside the customer’s property iron pipes can discolour the water and give it an unpleasant taste.
  • Stagnant water laying in pipes for extended periods (for example over a weekend) may be discoloured or have a poor taste at your tap.

Corrective measures

  • Normally running the tap for a few minutes will flush this water.
  • If the problem persists, contact Council.

Milky, white or cloudy water

Potential causes

  • Air bubbles in water caused by a sudden change in water flow or direction in the pipes.
  • Not harmful to health.

Corrective measures

  • Leave to sit for 2-3 minutes and they should disappear.

Brown, red, orange or yellow water colour

Potential causes

  • Sediment (iron, manganese) in the pipe or water main which can be stirred when there is a sudden increase or change in direction of water in the pipes.
  • Not harmful to health.

Corrective measures

Green stains or blue water

Potential causes

  • Usually copper corrosion from plumbing.
  • May be harmful to health.

Corrective measures

White particles

Potential causes

  • Calcium and magnesium carbonates which build up internally in hot water pipes and kettles.
  • Not harmful to health.

Useful resources