Water Quality

Shoalhaven Water proudly support and protect the community and the environment. We manage the local water supply from catchment to tap delivering high quality drinking water throughout the Shoalhaven Region. 

Water Quality

Some common enquiries we as a water utility receive about water quality are:

Cloudy Water

Why is the water coming out of my tap cloudy?

Cloudy, or milky looking tap water is generally caused by tiny bubbles of air in the water and can occur when air is trapped in the pipes after repair works. Cloudy tap water does not pose a risk to health; however you may wish to allow the bubbles to settle before you drink it. To do this simply pour a glass, or jug of water, and allow it to sit for a few minutes. You will notice the cloudiness will clear from the bottom of the glass upwards.

Water Discolouration

Why am I experiencing discoloured water?

Water discolouration can occur for various reasons with the most common cause being a disturbance of natural sediment build-up within the mains.

The most common reasons you may experience water discolouration include:

Accidental break in the main – this usually occurs at the most inconvenient time.

Peak holiday periods during times of high-volume water usage, especially over busy holiday periods when our population increases considerably.

What do I do if I experience discoloured water?

Consult with neighbours and if the problem does not appear to be isolated to an individual house contact us immediately so that we can investigate the problem.

If you do experience discoloured water, try running your outside tap for 5-10 minutes until the water clears. By running your front garden tap you will prevent the discoloured water from entering your internal lines. If you notice discoloured water inside the house, start with the front tap and run it until the water clears, then run your backyard tap for a few minutes to help clear the lines inside the house.

Is discoloured water safe to drink?

Whilst discoloured water is generally safe, it is unpalatable and it is not recommended for drinking. Water can be safely boiled and when cooled, palatable for drinking.

What is Shoalhaven Water doing to prevent discoloured water?

To help maintain our systems, Shoalhaven Water regularly undertakes a scheduled program of water mains flushing across the city. This can also be known as scouring. Our regular maintenance program scouring the mains helps to remove sediment build-up that can accumulate normally within the water supply system.

The flushing process consists of cleaning or ‘scouring’ the interior of water distribution system by sending a rapid flow of water through the mains. By flushing the water under higher release pressure, the build-up of sediment is dislodged. 

Shoalhaven Water notify residents prior to any planned scouring occurring.

If you are experiencing any of these problems call us and we can investigate to see if the water is coming from our mains or whether it is an internal plumbing problem.

Taste and Odour

The taste and odour of water can vary from tap to tap and can be impacted by naturally occurring minerals, treatment processes and internal plumbing.  

Why do I sometimes smell chlorine in my drinking water?

Chlorine is added to the water at our water filtration plants to remove harmful bacteria and to protect water quality. There are also some strategically positioned chlorinators located throughout the reticulation system to help protect our water quality. We carefully control and monitor this process to ensure the residual poses no risk to health.

Chlorine odours are generally caused by the small amount of chlorine in the water reacting with household plumbing fixtures such as hoses, tap washers, and tap strainers/aerators. If you are experiencing this problem, start by checking each tap until you can eliminate the source. 

Why is there a musty, mouldy or earthy taste or odour?

Musty tastes and odours in the drinking water can be caused by organic growth (such as algal blooms) within water pipes. Mould and bacteria can breed in the internal plumbing particularly if left to sit. If you have been away from the house for a period of time it is a good idea to let water run for a while before using it for drinks. This is generally not harmful but if you are concerned you should take a sample to your local water tester for reassurance.

Why does my water taste metallic?

If your water has a metallic taste this may mean the internal water pipes on the property have corroded and the rusty metal is transferring to your drinking water.

If high doses are present, customers may also notice a change in the colour of the water varying from an extreme (mud colour) to an almost unnoticeable (very light tea colour).

If you are experiencing any of these problems call us and we can investigate to see if the water is coming from our mains or whether it is an internal plumbing problem.


The taste and smell of drinking water does not change as a result of water fluoridation because the type of fluoride used to fluoridate the water supply has no taste or smell.

For more information on fluoride visit NSW Health

Water Hardness

Water hardness in the Shoalhaven is around 50 miligrams per litre of calcium carbonate, the government standard average is 200mg.

The water in the Shoalhaven is considered 'soft'.