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Drinking Water Monitoring

Have you ever wondered what makes the water coming from your taps in your home safe and reliable for your family to drink? Next time you turn the tap on, take a moment to consider the story behind tap water for those residents living in our communities connected to a town water scheme.

The  Warrumbungle Water team manages town water supplies across the Shire as per Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, and our Regulatory Services team monitor town water supplies weekly.

Drinking water starts out from either an underground water source, a river, or from surface water collection in to a dam. This raw state of water needs to be treated to ensure the water is safe to use, and is then referred to as potable water.

How does water go from raw to potable?

There are several steps involved in turning raw water into potable water.

Firstly, the water needs to be pumped from its source to the water treatment plant. The source can be a bore (Baradine, Coolah and Dunedoo), a river (Binnaway and Mendooran) or a dam (Coonabarabran). Some raw water sources have a ‘dirty’ appearance to the water, which is usually from little particles that make the water look opaque or coloured.

There are four Water Treatment Plants across the Shire to clean raw water. Chemicals are added to build small flocks, or aggregates, with the dirt particles. These flocks are separated from the clear water through sedimentation (gravity) and are also filtered. This occurs in all town water supplies across the Shire except for Coolah and Dunedoo.

To the clear water chlorine is added for disinfection, which sanitises the water and kills harmful microorganisms such as bacteria.

From the Water Treatment Plant the clear and treated water is pumped to the town reservoirs from where it gets reticulated through the water mains. There are twenty reservoirs across the Shire.

The cleaned and treated water finally reaches your house through a smaller service pipe that comes off the town water main. There is 149km of water mains which are maintained by Warrumbungle Water staff, and are assisted by Urban Services staff across the Shire.

How do we ensure town water is safe to drink?

When the clear and treated water enters the town water reticulation system the chlorine content is measured to make sure it is at an appropriate level. Chlorine levels need to be monitored to ensure they are high enough to provide protection against harmful bacteria but not too high as to create an uncomfortable taste.

Additionally, weekly water samples at designated sites are taken across the Shire by one of our Compliance Officers. These samples are sent away for a comprehensive analysis to a NSW Health laboratory. NSW Health will notify Council if the sample results are noncompliant with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines so corrective action can be taken by staff. The samples are distinguished between microbiological samples and chemistry samples.

The microbiological samples are analysed for the presence of harmful microorganisms - the indicator organism that the samples are tested for is called E. coli. At the same time the samples are also tested for their chlorine content. The frequency with which microbiological samples are taken is dictated by NSW Health and depends on the size of the township. In Baradine, Coolah, Coonabarabran, and Dunedoo microbiological samples are taken weekly, fortnightly in Binnaway and Mendooran, and monthly in Bugaldie and Kenebri. Click on links in table below for a results summary of the microbiological samples for each water supply system for the past six months (updated monthly).

In the past, there has been the occasional Boil Water Alert for some towns across the Shire. NSW Health issues a Boil Water Alert if a test result indicates chlorine levels need to be checked, or a possible contamination of the water. A Boil Water Alert recommends residents to boil all water for drinking and cooking purposes until otherwise notified and should not be ignored. The Warrumbungle Water team will respond quickly to any incident that may lead to a Boil Water Alert.

The chemistry samples are taken every six months from the water supply system in each town and village. These samples are chemically analysed for their physical properties such as hardness and pH, and also for the presence of trace elements, salts, and metals. Click on links in table below for a results summary of the latest chemistry sample for each water supply system.

Baradine Microbiology
Baradine Chemistry
Binnaway Microbiology
Binnaway Chemistry
Bugaldie Microbiology
Bugaldie Chemistry
Coolah Microbiology
Coolah Chemistry
Coonabarabran Microbiology
Coonabarabran Chemistry
Dunedoo Microbiology
Dunedoo Chemistry
Kenebri Microbiology
Kenebri Chemistry
Mendooran Microbiology 
Mendooran Chemistry


What do we do to further improve drinking water quality?

Your drinking water quality may be impacted by deposits originating from old cast iron pipes or dead ends in the water reticulation system. This may mean the colour, taste or odour of the water is different to what you normally see when you turn on the tap. To remediate such drinking water concerns, Council allocates in the budget each year funds for water mains replacements and mains extensions, including removal of dead ends in water pipelines. At known problem areas Council staff also flushes the water mains regularly and tests the water to ensure it is in line with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Why do I experience discoloured water or taste and odour problems and what can I do?

Discoloured water (brown/muddy appearance) can be caused by sediment in the water main or may be due to rust from old cast iron mains or galvanised pipes forming part of the property internal plumbing. Sediment and brown water from rusting cast iron pipes can be cleared by Council staff flushing the local water main. Brown water from rusting galvanised property internal pipework can be managed by flushing internal taps or by seeking advice from a licenced plumber.

To determine if the water discolouration stems from internal piping or from the water supply main, a simple test can be conducted by taking 2 clean white buckets or containers and filling one of them up from a tap near your water meter and a second from a tap furthest from the meter. If the sample from the further tap is more discoloured it is most likely an internal plumbing problem of the pipe rusting.  
Generally, the rusted piping will also impart an unpleasant (e.g. metallic) taste on the water, particularly in tea and coffee, and could even lead to a reduction in a property's water pressure and flow. This is due to the fittings and pipes becoming choked with rust flakes and particles. Rusted piping can also leave stains on washing. The best solution to alleviate this problem is to replace the old pipes with new alternative material pipes; some small sections may be hard to access however, such as elbows, joints or piping in concrete walls. A licensed plumber can advise on the best course to take.

Taste and odour problems can also be experienced as a result of chlorination. Chlorine disinfection is an essential part of the process for delivering safe drinking water and has been used effectively around the world for over one hundred years as part of the water treatment process.
Some customers prefer not to drink water if they can smell chlorine. A way of easily and safely removing chlorine from your water is to fill a jug with water and put it in your fridge (out of direct sunlight). The chlorine will naturally dissipate from the water. After a few hours the chlorine will have mostly disappeared.

Council endeavours to provide clean safe drinking water for the whole community and appreciates being notified via phone call or email of any issues so that we can have the opportunity to rectify the issue.

Last Updated: 05 Jul 2024