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Water quality concerns

Greater Western Water follows strict guidelines and methods to treat and monitor our water supply. But sometimes your water may look, smell or taste different than usual.

There are many reasons for your water to change suddenly. Most of the time these changes are harmless and are more likely to affect the way your water looks rather than posing any health threat.

Returning to a vacant property?

If you’re having water quality problems and you’re recently moved to or returned to a property that has been empty, we recommend the internal plumbing is checked by a licensed plumber.

Learn more about checking drinking water when returning to a vacant property.

Common problems

We’ve listed some potential issues below. If you have any concerns about your water quality, please contact our 24/7 faults team on 13 44 99.

Cloudy water

Cloudy or white water is often caused by tiny air bubbles in the water. Air bubbles are harmless. Air can get trapped in your water after there have been works on a main or a change in pressure, such as when a fire hydrant is being used by the fire department.

If you only see bubbles in your water from your hot water tap, then it’s most likely caused by your hot water system and you may need to seek advice from the manufacturer.

Bubbles in your cold water are more common when it’s very cold outside as the temperature can affect the water pressure and the way air dissolves in the water.

To check if the cloudy water is caused by air, fill a glass and let it sit. The cloudiness should gradually disappear from the bottom of the glass up.

Brown or orange water

While brown water can look worrying, its often caused by a stir-up of the natural silt that sits in water mains. This sediment is natural and does not pose any health problems. Sometimes, the brown or orange colour can be caused by old pipes at your home.

If your water is brown or orange, we recommend you run a tap at the back of your house for about 5 minutes. If it isn’t clear, then check the water at another tap at the front of your house. Checking taps at two different locations helps you find out whether the problem is caused by pipes at your home, or if it’s due to Greater Western Water’s water supply.

If the water is clear at the front tap but not the back one, then the colour is probably caused by old pipes on your property and you should call a plumber to investigate further.

If you have brown/orange water coming from both the front and back taps, then it could be due to our supply system and the water should clear up in a short time. If the issue continues then contact us at the number above.

Blue or green water

Water that is green/blue is rare and is usually caused by old copper pipes on the property. It can often have a metallic taste.

You can have blue/green water when the copper plumbing has been recently installed but it can also happen if the plumbing is very old and starting to rust. These days, many homes are installed with plumbing made from plastic, but some homes still have copper pipes.

If you have ongoing blue/green water at your property, please contact your local plumber or us for advice.

Earthy or muddy smell

Muddy smelling water is often caused by harmless, natural-occurring compounds, called Geosmin and Methyl-Isoborneol (MIB).

These compounds are often found in water, but most of the time, you can’t smell them.

Sometimes, when the weather changes a lot, the compound levels can increase making the smell more obvious.

While the smell or taste can be a little strong for some, the compounds don’t cause any health problems and the issue is often short-lived.

More about Geosmin and MIB

Humans can smell Geosmin even when there is only a very small amount present. Studies show that people can detect it in the equivalent of one drop in 200 Olympic sized swimming pools. Because of this, a tiny increase in levels can sometimes be all it takes for some of our customers to begin noticing its smell.

If we have an increase in Geosmin and MIB we can treat our water supply by using powered activated carbon to the maximum levels possible. However, in some cases Geosmin and MIB cannot be fully removed from water using this treatment processes.

More information