What is 'dirty' water?

'Dirty' water is a change in the appearance or the colour of your water - usually to a brown or yellow. This discolouration is caused by trace materials within the water, such as iron or manganese. When these materials enter the water supply system they are in extremely low levels, however changes to the supply as it travels through the system can cause these materials to accumulate and become visible, discolouring the water.

Where and when does dirty water usually occur?

Residents living in areas furthest away from the nearest reservoir, or at the end of a street, may experience discolouration more frequently than others. This is because the water has further to travel and this allows heavier particles to settle out of the water and become visible. Weekenders or untenanted houses in any area may also experience discolouration when first turning on a tap after a period of time without using water at the home. Discolouration can also be caused by old household connections as well as certain types of pipes. For example discolouration will occur more often in houses with galvanised water pipes. Galvanised pipes are no longer used in homes, with copper - or more recently polyethylene pipes have become the norm. Anyone who experiences regular water discolouration and has galvanised water pipes in their home may consider replacing them and should seek further advice and assistance from a local plumber.

Is dirty water considered a health hazard?

MidCoast Water Services is constantly testing the quality of drinking water in our area to ensure it complies with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, administered by NSW Health. Generally dirty water is not a hazard to health, although it may appear unpleasant.

What if I have milky or white coloured water?

Water that is milky or white in colour is the result of small air bubbles within the water. This is usually due to air becoming trapped in the pipes - perhaps after the repair of a broken water main. This water is harmless and if left in a container on the bench, the air will quickly dissipate and the water will become clear. It will not stain your washing.

Does dirty water affect washing?

Discolouration of the water supply by materials such as iron and/or manganese may cause a rust coloured stain on your clothing and linen while washing. If you notice a discolouration in the water from your household taps, don't use your washing machine until the water is clear. If you live in an area with frequent discolouration, regularly check your water before washing by running the tap in the laundry.

What should I do if I notice dirty water?

If you notice water discolouration in your home, we suggest you wait an hour or two then check that the water from your front tap (nearest to the water meter) is clear. If it is clear, go to the tap at the furthest point from your water meter (usually the garden tap in the backyard) and run the water for a few minutes until it also runs clear. If the water coming into your front tap is not clear contact us and we can arrange flushing of the water mains in the local area. While flushing is being undertaken, customers can experience very dirty water, however this will clear shortly afterwards.

MidCoast Water Services has over two thousand kilometres of water mains, so we are unable to monitor them all at the same time so we do rely on residents to advise us of any severe or ongoing discolouration to the water supply in order to take action in the immediate area.