FAQ's - Water Quality
Treated drinking water is regularly tested to ensure it complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. This is a requirement of all Council's and Water Supply Authorities in NSW. Routine analysis is carried out of physical, chemical and microbiological properties to ensure that water is safe to drink.
Water Treatment Process
Lower Bellinger Water Supply Scheme
Raw water is drawn from an infiltration well and three bores in the Bellinger Alluvium Groundwater Source, adjoining the Bellinger River just upstream of the town. The raw water is treated with lime, chlorine gas and fluoride. Lime is used to correct pH. Chlorine is added to disinfect the water and kill harmful bacteria. Fluoride levels are adjusted to reduce dental decay in accordance with NSW Health requirements.
Wastewater is treated at the Bellingen Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the Urunga Wastewater Treatment Plant. It is thoroughly tested to ensure it meets strict water quality guidelines before being discharged into the Bellinger River. To see our recent wastewater data, check out our Water Data Portal.
Dorrigo Water Supply Scheme
Raw water is drawn primarily from the Bielsdown River. If levels are low, water is drawn from an on-stream storage in Rocky Creek. The raw water is treated with alum and lime to correct pH, before undergoing flocculation, sedimentation and sand filtration. Water is then treated with chlorine and additional lime to disinfect and kill harmful bacteria. Fluoride levels are adjusted to reduce dental decay in accordance with NSW Health requirements.
Wastewater is treated at the Dorrigo Wastewater Treatment Plant. It is thoroughly tested to ensure it meets strict water quality guidelines before being discharged into the Bielsdown River. To see our recent wastewater data, check out our Water Data Portal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my water sometimes discolored?
Water may be discoloured from time to time. This may be a result of old pipes, or natural variation in the raw water being extracted. Colour itself is not deemed to be a health issue, but rather an aesthetic issue, according to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
Dirty looking water may be a result of sediment build-up in old pipes. This is generally harmless. The colour change is due to the presence of very small mineral particles such as iron or manganese.
What should I do if my water is discolored?
Run your tap for a few seconds to see if it comes clear. If you keep seeing rusty coloured water when you first turn on your tap, the pipes may be corroded. These sections may eventually need replacing. Please contact Council on 02) 6655 7300 if you are concerned.
What can I do to reduce mineral deposits forming in my appliances and fixtures?
Over time, minerals can build up in your pipes and fixtures, causing hard deposits to form. You may notice calcium deposits, limescale or rust on your shower head and taps. To remove deposits in an environmentally friendly way, you can try soaking them in vinegar. Remove the fixture first, if you are able to, or tie a bag to the fixture. Vinegar works well on stainless steel and aluminium. If you have brass or chrome fixtures, try a gentle mixture of warm water, lemon and a few drops of hand soap. Then use an old toothbrush, and a little bit of patience. This is a great option to try before turning to industrial cleaning products.
You may also find mineral deposits in your kettle. The easiest way to get rid of these is to fill your kettle with equal amounts of water and vinegar and boil. After boiling, let it sit for 20 minutes and then pour it out. Clean with a brush and rinse.
Why is Fluoride added to water?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found in soil, rocks and water and is already present in the water supply. During the water treatment process, levels of fluoride are adjusted in order to reach the optimum amount. This helps to reduce tooth decay in children and adults and is recommended by NSW Health and the World Health Organisation. Healthy teeth are recognised as an important factor in a person's overall health.
If you have a rainwater tank, your water does not contain fluoride. Where rainwater is the primary source of drinking water, NSW Health recommends individuals to seek advice on fluoride supplementation.
Why is Chlorine added to water?
Chlorine is a mandatory requirement for the disinfection of drinking water. This ensures that water is safe to drink and free from bacterial health effects. Chlorine will dissipate, so if you find the smell or taste unpleasant, leave your water for a period of time before drinking it. This will allow the chlorine to evaporate. A great option for this is a ceramic water filter, or simply a water jug. If you are using treated water in a fish tank, it is important to leave the water for 1-2 days before adding it to the tank.
Why is Lime added to water?
Lime is used in water treatment plants to correct pH, reduce pathogen growth, and help remove turbidity. Depending on its source, water may be acidic or alkaline and require pH correction. Water coming from areas of rock that are high in minerals, is often alkaline or 'hard'. Water coming from areas of rock that are low in minerals, can be acidic or 'soft'.
Is my tank water safe to drink?
Tanks that are maintained can provide good quality drinking water. They can be susceptible to microbial contamination however, particularly from animal droppings that may contain harmful bacteria and parasites. It is important to maintain your rainwater tank and ensure that you have an adequate catchment set-up.
To learn more about tank water quality, first flush devices, and recommended maintenance, head to the website below:
NSW Health Rainwater Tank Information