Your water

This guide explains everything to do with water – from your water quality to how your water bill is put together.

Please note: water and sewerage connections are made through your water service provider.


Your water bill explained

Your water and sewerage bill is made up of a number of charges. These can include:

  • Access charge

    An access charge is applied to properties that have access to a water supply and/or sewerage network.

    The access charge is a set charge that contributes to the fixed costs of providing water to your home. That is, the water service provider uses the money collected through this charge to pay for the cost of building, maintaining and replacing the pipes, pumps and other infrastructure that it uses to deliver their services to you.

  • Consumption charge

    A water consumption (usage) charge is a variable charge based on the actual amount of water that you have used from your water service provider.  This is measured by a water meter which is generally placed at the boundary of your property.

  • Water allocation charge

    A water allocation charge is used when you pay a set fee for a defined amount of water. If you exceed your allocated amount of water you may be required to pay additional charges for each kilolitre of water that you use.

  • Vacant land charge

    Water service providers are required to make sure all premises in their service area have access to water and sewerage services. This also includes vacant land.

    Service providers can recover reasonable costs for providing this access from landholders through the collection of access charges.

South East Queensland

In South East Queensland (SEQ), household water and sewerage bills are made up of two parts:

  • retail and distribution charges for water and sewerage services
  • Seqwater's wholesale bulk water charges.

Council water business charges

Retail and distribution prices are set by the relevant councils' water businesses, rather than the Queensland Government. 

The council water business prices are to recover costs associated with distribution of water, billing systems and sewerage treatment. For more information, contact your local council water business.

State Government bulk water charge

The Queensland Government sets the bulk water price for the 11 SEQ council areas (Seqwater is the bulk water supplier for SEQ). 

Find out more

Contact your water service provider if you would like more information on how your water bill is calculated.


Water restrictions

Water restrictions apply in some council areas. Check with your water service provider (generally your local council) for details.

In South East Queensland there are currently no residential or business water restrictions.

This includes: Brisbane City Council, City of Gold Coast, Ipswich City Council, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, Logan City Council, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Noosa Council, Redland City Council, Scenic Rim Regional Council, Somerset Regional Council, Sunshine Coast Council.

You can water your garden on any day and at any time. However:

  • bear in mind you still have to pay for the water you use
  • please use water efficiently. It's our most precious resource.

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.

Bacteria  

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

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


Water leaks

You should check your water meter monthly to monitor and understand how much water you use. This will also help locate leaks early, saving you both water and money

If you do not regularly check your water meter, the first sign of a water leak might be a higher than normal water bill.

Checking for water leaks

  1. Find your water meter and write down the numbers shown.
  2. Turn off all taps tightly and make sure that no-one will be using any water on the premises for the next hour.
  3. After one hour, check the water meter reading. If the numbers have changed, there may be a leak.
  4. If it appears there is a leak, the first item to check is the toilet. Turn off the water valves located under each toilet and then redo steps 1 to 3.
  5. If the numbers haven't changed during this time, you may have a leaking toilet. To check this, put a little food colouring in the toilet cistern. If, without flushing, the colouring begins to appear in the bowl, the cistern rubbers need to be repaired.  Note: After the test, flush your toilet twice to prevent the food colouring from staining the toilet bowl.
  6. Alternatively, if the numbers have increased, there is a leak somewhere else on your property. For further investigation, contact a licenced plumber to identify and take the necessary steps to repair the leak.

Concealed leaks remissions

If you would like to discuss your water charges in relation to a concealed leak you should contact your water service provider.

SEQ water service providers are required, under the Water and Sewerage Services Code for Small Customers in South East Queensland to have a concealed leak remission policy. Providers outside of SEQ are not under any such obligations, but are required to have customer service standards.

The majority of Queensland's service providers have a leaks policy and a concealed leak remission.  It is up to the water service provider to decide the amount of the remission payment.

We do not provide a remission on the SEQ bulk water charges component of SEQ water bills.

Please note: it is the responsibility of the landowner to install and maintain any plumbing that is on their property (i.e. pipes and fittings past the water meter connection point).  This means it is the landowner's responsibility to identify and fix any leaks on their property.


Bulk water entities

Responsibility for water is spread across a number of government agencies:

  • DEWS has a governance, regulatory and oversight role for a number of state-owned water entities (commercial businesses) providing water supply services.  
  • DNRM is responsible for management of the state's natural resources, such as water management and planning.  
  • DEHP is responsible for the monitoring and protection of water environments.  
  • DAF is responsible for managing water resources for irrigation.  
  • Queensland Health co-regulates water quality with DEWS to assure safe drinking water.  
  • DILGP is responsible for planning that enables responsible development and protection of natural resources.  

The Queensland Government has responsibility for a number of water entities which provide services to the community which are essential – including critical water supply infrastructure, such as dams and water treatment plants, and services to support consumer needs.

Water entities in Queensland include:

  • Government owned corporations  
  • Category 1 and Category 2 water authorities (Category 2 water authorities are smaller than Category 1 authorities and are overseen by DNRM)  
  • Statutory authorities.  

Water providers in Queensland also include:

  • local governments  
  • private providers.  

Bulk water entities overseen by DEWS

Entity       What it does      

Queensland Bulk Water Supply Authority (trading as Seqwater)

Provides bulk water services for water service providers within South East Queensland.        

SunWater

Provides bulk water services as well as bulk raw water transmission for water service providers and industry outside of SEQ, including agriculture in the case of SunWater.        

Gladstone Area Water Board

Mount Isa Water Board

Each water entity operates independently to government on a competitive, commercial basis.

Relationship with bulk water entities

The Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy and Water Supply is ultimately responsible under the following acts:

  • South East Queensland Water (Restructuring) Act 2007 for Seqwater (with the Treasurer)  
  • Government Owned Corporations Act 1993 for SunWater (with the Treasurer)  
  • Water Act 2000 for Mount Isa Water Board and Gladstone Area Water Board.  

Queensland Urban  Utilities and Unitywater are statutory authorities that are controlled by local governments under the South-East Queensland Water (Distribution  and Retail Restructuring) Act 2009.

Our role

The department's role in monitoring the performance of these bulk water entities is shared with Queensland Treasury for Seqwater and SunWater.

DEWS is responsible for:

  • monitoring and regulation of water service providers and referable dams.  
  • administering the process for appointments to Category 1 water authorities boards  
  • advising responsible and shareholding Ministers of critical current and emerging issues that may impact on government-owned businesses.

Financial assistance

You may be eligible for a subsidy for your water supply charges.

Rates subsidy for pensioners

Eligible pensioners can receive a subsidy of 20 per cent (up to a maximum of $200 each year) off the gross rates and charges levied by your local council. 

This subsidy applies to eligible pensioners living in Queensland. Find out more or apply for the rate subsidy

Some local councils, as water service providers, also offer rate remissions or concessions for certain groups of rate payers in the community. For more information contact your water service provider (generally local council).

Water subsidy for pensioners

Eligible pensioners in South East Queensland can receive a subsidy of up to $120 (maximum) a year off the cost of water access and usage charges. Find out more about the water subsidy.


Your rights and responsibilities

As a water customer in Queensland you have certain rights and responsibilities.

Your rights

As a customer you have the right to:

  • ask your water service provider to test your water meter if you suspect that it's not functioning correctly - the service provider may charge you a fee for the test.
  • access dispute resolution processes.

Your responsibilities

As a customer you are responsible for:

  • making sure that the plumbing and drainage on your property is kept in good condition and works properly
  • notifying your water service provider if you are the new owner of the land
  • paying your water and sewerage charges on time.
    Note: If you have any difficulties or want to dispute the charges you need to contact your service provider before the due date shown on the bill.

If you do not pay your bill on time your service provider, in some circumstances, may charge interest on the unpaid bill and restrict your water supply. Water service providers (generally local councils) also have the power to sell a property to recover unpaid rates (including water charges) if the fees have been outstanding for at least three years.

Water service provider obligations

Your water service provider must also meet certain obligations relating to customer service standards and billing information requirements.

Service providers in SEQ must also provide quarterly water and sewerage bills for their customers. SEQ service providers have the right to estimate their customer's water usage once every six months.

Find out more

South East Queensland

If you are a small customer or service provider in SEQ, your rights and obligations in relation to water and wastewater services are covered by the South-East Queensland Water (Distribution and Retail Restructuring) Act 2009 and the SEQ Customer Water and Wastewater Code. The code covers:

  • complaint handling procedures
  • information in water bills
  • bill paying arrangements
  • meter reading and testing
  • publishing customer service standards.

Note: a small customer is a residential customer or a non-residential customer who uses no more than 100 kilolitres of drinking water and/or reticulated recycled water per year.

Other parts of Queensland

Under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008, water service providers who do not have a service contract with their customers must prepare and publish a customer service standard relevant to the water or sewerage services they provide.


Resolving disputes

South East Queensland

If you are a small customer and have an issue with your water service provider not meeting the SEQ Customer Water and Wastewater Code and you have tried to resolve the dispute, you can make a complaint to the Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland.

If you are not a small customer, you should first try to resolve any issues with your service provider. However, if you are not able to resolve the dispute you may be able to make a complaint to the Queensland Ombudsman.

Note: a small customer is a residential customer or a non-residential customer who uses no more than 100 kilolitres of drinking water and/or reticulated recycled water per year.

Other parts of Queensland

If you are a customer and have tried to resolve an issue with your water service provider (generally your local council), and are unsuccessful you may be able to make a complaint to the Queensland Ombudsman.

Customers who are unable to make a complaint to the Queensland Ombudsman (that is, customers of a water service provider that is not subject to the Ombudsman Act 2001) but whose service provider has not complied with their customer service standards and whose complaint hasn't been able to be resolved may, under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 , make a complaint to the Regulator, Department of Energy and Water Supply.

Further information