Department of Energy and Water Supply

Drinking water quality

Your drinking water service provider is responsible for providing safe and reliable drinking water. In most regional areas, your local council is the drinking water service provider. If you have any questions about your drinking water you should contact them directly.

Where my drinking water comes from 

Drinking water in Queensland comes from a variety of sources such as:

  • dams, barrages, weirs, groundwater bores and rivers (run-of-river extraction) and
  • desalination, and other alternative sources.

Read more about our water sources.

Standards for drinking water

To ensure your water is safe to drink, it should meet certain standards. These standards are referred to as health related guideline values and aesthetic guideline values and can be found in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

  • A health related guideline value is based on present knowledge and does not result  in any significant risk to the health of the consumer over a lifetime of consumption.
  • An aesthetic guideline value is associated with the acceptability of water to the consumer, for example, appearance, taste and odour.

Read the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Discoloured water

Occasionally tap water may appear dirty or discoloured. This may be due to:

  • naturally occurring substances, such as iron or manganese
  • corrosion of service pipes
  • internal plumbing issues.

In most cases discoloured water is not harmful. If you have any concerns, please contact your local water service provider.

Taste and smell

Occasionally drinking water may have an unusual taste or smell. This may be due to:

  • Organic matter in water may give an earthy or peaty taste and/or odour. This may be caused by water sources with naturally high concentrations of organic matter or by a build-up of algae or bacteria in taps and plumbing. Thoroughly cleaning your taps may solve the problem.
  • Chlorine in drinking water may be detectable. Chlorine is added to most drinking water in Queensland to kill harmful germs that may be present in the environment. Water service providers closely monitor the level of chlorine present.
  • Trace amounts of copper or iron may give tap water a bitter or metallic taste. This may be caused by aging pipes or naturally occurring levels in the environment. At low levels it's not harmful but may be unpleasant to drink.

In most cases water is still safe to drink, however contact your local water service provider if you have any concerns.


Before treatment, water may contain pathogens: microorganisms capable of causing sickness or disease. Drinking water is treated and disinfected with chlorine to remove these. A small residual amount of chlorine remains in the water to maintain quality as it travels through the pipes.


Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite commonly found in cattle, sheep, birds, fish and even humans. If ingested, it can cause a gastrointestinal illness called cryptosporidiosis. It is usually spread by contact with infected animals or humans, or by ingesting contaminated food, milk or water.

Drinking water is protected from Cryptosporidium by using specific treatment processes (coagulation and filtration) at treatment plants. Managing catchment areas where drinking water is sourced is also effective at preventing it.

Monitoring drinking water quality

Drinking water service providers are required to monitor the drinking water quality. This monitoring occurs at the treatment plant along with selected sample sites across the network. Large drinking water service providers are required to monitor more frequently than smaller providers.

Find out more

Last updated:
19 November 2015