Drinking water quality

In NSW, the Department of Health has endorsed the National Health and Medical Research Councils' Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011 (ADWG) as the definitive standards for drinking water quality for NSW communities. 

All public water supplies in NSW should aim to meet the ADWG to be satisfied with the safety of their drinking water supply. This includes any supply to the public, ranging from small-scale Bed and Breakfasts to the largest Water Supply Authority supplying millions of people.

Below are the test results from the NSW Health Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Program for the last 12 months. This report is updated monthly to include the most recent test results.

2023-January-drinking-water-quality-results.pdf(PDF, 348KB)

How is our water tested?

Testing is carried out regularly at 32 different sites throughout the City to ensure that drinking water is of good quality and meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and  NSW Department of Health standards.

What does Council test for?

Biological, physical, chemical and radiological characteristics that may affect the quality of water are tested.

These water quality indicators can be categorised as:

  • Micro Biological: bacteria, algae.
  • Physical: temperature, turbidity, colour, dissolved solids, pH, dissolved oxygen, taste and odour.
  • Chemical: Inorganic chemicals, including arsenic, chloride, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nitrate, nitrite, sodium, tin, zinc etc., organic compounds and disinfection by-products.
  • Radiological: gross alpha and beta activity concentrations.

Who is responsible for the Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Program?

The NSW Department of Health runs a Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Program for all regional and rural Water Supply Authorities, such as Coffs Harbour Water. This program allows the State Government to monitor the quality of the drinking water supplied to the NSW community by rural or regional Water Supply Authorities, and their compliance to the ADWG.

To test the quality of the drinking water in the Coffs Harbour City Council area, NSW Health asks the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) Accredited Environmental Laboratory in Coffs Harbour to collect water samples on a monthly basis and send the water samples to the Forensic & Analytical Science Service (FASS) in Sydney for testing.

The Coffs Harbour Laboratory also conducts weekly tests on pH, Turbidity, Alkalinity, E.coli, Manganese, Iron and Fluoride for Coffs Harbour Water, independent of the NSW Health Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Program.

Where can you get your water tested?

The Coffs Harbour Laboratory is a NATA accredited market leader in providing chemical and microbiological analysis of drinking water, effluents, bore water, tank water, pools and environmental waters.  

Contact the Coffs Harbour Laboratory

Frequently asked questions about the quality of our water

How does Council make sure our water is safe to drink?

Council begins the process of creating the highest quality drinking water for our customers long before the water gets to your house.

Step 1 - Catchment and Raw Water Management
Protecting the quality of the raw water river sources by controlling land use in the areas upstream of the drinking water pump stations and carefully managing the raw water stored in our off stream storage Dams is a vital start to a top quality drinking water supply.

Initial Water Quality Protection

Step 2 - The Water Treatment Plant
The Karangi Water Treatment Plant assists Council to minimise any risk of contamination of the local water supply by blue/green algae and pathogen infection, and ensures that Australian Drinking Water Guidelines continue to be met. It also reduces problems created by iron and manganese in the water supply, which has resulted in Council having to carry out an extensive water mains flushing program in the past.

Step 3 - Water Mains Flushing and Reservoir Cleaning 
Having clean water is important, but just as important is having clean pipes to deliver the clean water through to residents. For this reason, Council provides a regular water mains flushing program to protect the quality of our drinking water. 

Step 4 - Water Quality Testing 
Despite managing and treating our water sources and water distribution network so that the Coffs Harbour Water Supply meets health and safety standards, Council also regularly tests the quality of our drinking water to ensure these health and standards are being met. 

Step 5 - Community Help to Protect Our Drinking Water
Council can only do so much to ensure residents have access to top quality drinking water. There are risks to our drinking water quality which are out of our hands and under the control of residents. You play a part in protecting your own water supply. 

One of the main risks to our drinking water supply which is controlled by residents is backflow of contaminated water back into the water supply network. 

Backflow Protection

What is the hardness of Coffs Harbour's drinking water?

The Coffs Harbour drinking water supply generally has an average water hardness under 60mg/L (as CaCO3) and therefore is considered "soft".

Water hardness and your dishwasher

Is our water fluoridated?

Yes, the Coffs Harbour water supply is fluoridated. Drinking water for the village of Nana Glen is not fluoridated as it is served by a seperate water supply. Find out more about water treatment

What causes our water to become discoloured?

When there is a sudden increase in the rate of water flow through pipes or a change in direction, it is possible to stir up sediments that have settled in the pipes over a period of time. These sediments are then suspended in the water, giving it a discoloured appearance. Although unsightly, the suspended particles that cause discoloured water are harmless to health. The sediment contains very fine iron and manganese particles. Burst pipes can also result in discoloured water, due to the need to reverse water flow patterns in surrounding streets.

If the discolouration stains your washing, keep the articles immersed in water and call Council on 02 6648 4000 and we can deliver a cleaning agent to help remove stains from your washing.

Why does my water have a cloudy or milky appearance?

If you experience white, cloudy or milky looking water it is caused by air in the water, and it is harmless. It can occur when work is carried out on water mains (eg. a burst water main) or when a faulty air valve allows air to enter the water pipe. If you leave the water to stand in a glass for a short period it will allow the air bubbles to be released and the water will return to a clear appearance.

Water quality for home brewing

Residents brewing drinks at home may need to know certain quality characteristics of the Coffs Harbour City Council drinking water supply to successfully set up their home brew operations.

The data below has been gathered over long period of time and is representative of the Coffs Harbour reticulated water supply.

This data covers the most common queries received by Council from the home brewing community.

Characteristic Average    
Alkalinity as CaCO3 50.84    
Calcium (mg/L) 17.71    
Chloride (mg/L) 12.80    
Magnesium (mg/L) 1.16    
Sodium (mg/L) 16.73    
Sulfate (mg/L) 15.91