Tap water is a vital resource that we rely on for cooking, cleaning, and hydration. However, there are concerns about the safety of drinking tap water in Australia due to the presence of chemicals and contaminants. In this article, we will explore the big question: can you drink tap water in Australia? We will also examine the types of chemicals and contaminants that can be found in tap water and their potential health risks. Plus, we’ll discuss the disadvantages of drinking tap water and explore ways to make your tap water safer to consume. So, keep reading if you want to improve your understanding of the safety of drinking tap water in Australia and the steps you can take to protect your health.
Tap Water Across Australia
The quality of tap water in each Australian city can vary greatly depending on the water source, storage, and treatment process used. All drinking water must adhere to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines developed by the National Medical Research Council. While most drinking water generally meets these guidelines, it does not guarantee safety or quality that satisfies all consumers.
Brisbane draws its drinking water supply from various water storages and treats it through three water treatment plants before distribution. The treatment process involves using aluminium sulphate (alum) to flocculate and remove suspended materials before treatment with chlorine, chloramine, and fluoride.
Meanwhile, Canberra's drinking water supply comes from two main water storages, treated through two water treatment plants and distributed via a network of water mains, pumping stations, and service reservoirs. Alum is used as a coagulant to remove unwanted colour and turbidity before filtering, UV treatment, pH adjustment, stabilisation with lime or carbon dioxide, and finally, chlorination and fluoride addition.
Sydney's tap water supply is sourced from storage dams and treated through nine water treatment plants before distribution. The treatment process includes filtering, chlorination or chloramination, and fluoride addition. Chloramination is used in most of the plants.
As for Melbourne, its water supply originates from various water storage dams and is treated through five water treatment plants before distribution. The treatment process involves using alum or similar coagulants to remove suspended materials and colour, followed by filtration, chlorination, pH adjustment with lime, and fluoride addition. Some plants also use UV treatment systems.
Check out AquaSafe’s page on water quality in your city/suburb for more information.
What Chemicals Can Be Found in Australian Tap Water?
Chlorine is a disinfectant that is added to tap water to kill bacteria and viruses. However, drinking high levels of chlorine can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as stomach discomfort and skin rashes.
Fluoride is added to tap water to help prevent tooth decay. While low levels of fluoride are safe, high levels can cause dental fluorosis, which is a condition that affects the appearance and strength of teeth.
Aluminium is a coagulant that is added to tap water to remove impurities. Consuming high levels of aluminium has been linked to several health problems, including Alzheimer's disease. Please note that the link between Alzheimer’s disease and aluminium in tap water has never been conclusively proven.
Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides
Pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are chemicals that are used to kill pests, weeds, and insects. If these chemicals are present in non-filtered tap water, they can be harmful to human health, causing issues such as nausea, headaches, and long-term health problems.
Rust, copper and lead
Rust, copper, and lead can leach into tap water from old pipes and plumbing systems. Consuming high levels of these metals can lead to health issues such as anemia, kidney damage, and developmental delays.
Parasites such as cryptosporidium can contaminate tap water and cause gastrointestinal illness, including diarrhea and vomiting.
Bacteria such as E. coli and legionella can contaminate tap water and cause a range of health problems, including gastrointestinal illness and respiratory infections.
The Disadvantages of Drinking Tap Water
Aside from the presence of chemicals in tap water, there are several other disadvantages to drinking tap water in Australia. One issue is the taste and odour of tap water, which can vary depending on the source and treatment process. Some people may find the taste and smell off putting, which can be a deterrent to drinking enough water for good health.
Another disadvantage is the potential for waterborne illnesses, which can occur if the water is not properly treated or if the distribution system is compromised. While these cases are relatively rare in Australia due to strict water quality standards, they can still occur, particularly in areas with older infrastructure or in the event of extreme weather events.
On top of that, some people may have concerns about the environmental impact of water treatment and distribution, such as energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
How to Make Your Tap Water Safer?
If you’ve wondered, ‘Is tap water safe to drink in Queensland, New South Wales or Victoria,’ the only best way to make your tap water safer to drink is to use home water filters. By removing harmful contaminants, such as chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, and heavy metals, these filters can help reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses and other negative health effects associated with drinking contaminated water.
Using a home tap water filter can also improve the taste and odour of tap water, making it more palatable and encouraging people to drink more water. This is particularly beneficial for people who may be sensitive to the taste or smell of tap water or who live in areas with particularly poor-tasting water.
As if that wasn’t enough, tap water filters can be a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative to bottled water. Rather than buying and disposing of plastic water bottles, a filter can provide clean, safe drinking water at home without generating plastic waste. So, whether you’re looking for Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Gold Coast or Sydney water filters, we highly recommend checking out our home water filter system guide to help find the right one for you.
Make Your Tap Water Taste Better with Aquasafe
Take control of your family's health and ensure access to clean, safe drinking water with Aquasafe's home water filter systems. Our products provide superior filtration and purification, and with our professional water filter installation and servicing, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your system is operating at peak performance. Invest in your health today by contacting us to get started and experience the Aquasafe difference.