Regulating drinking water

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 our drinking water comes from

Drinking water in Queensland comes from a variety of sources, including:

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

Standards for drinking water

To ensure your water is safe to drink, it should meet certain standards.

These standards include health related guideline values and aesthetic guideline values:

  • 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 (e.g. appearance, taste and odour).

For more information, refer to the Australian drinking water guidelines.

Discoloured water

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

  • naturally occurring substances (e.g. 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. In most cases water is still safe to drink, however contact your local water service provider if you have any concerns.

This may be due to the following reasons.

Organic matter

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 elements

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 is not harmful but it may be unpleasant to drink.


Before treatment, water may contain pathogens (i.e. 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 and Giardia

Cryptosporidium and Giardia are microscopic parasites commonly found in cattle, sheep, birds, fish and even humans. If ingested, they can cause gastrointestinal illnesses. They are usually spread by contact with infected animals or humans, or by ingesting contaminated food, milk or water.

Drinking water is protected from Cryptosporidium and Giardia by using specific treatment processes (i.e. 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.

Related information