In Brisbane, we’re lucky to have access to water of exceptional quality, but where does our tap water come from? In this guide, you’ll learn about Brisbane’s water supply system, the water treatment process and whether the tap water is really safe to drink!
Where Does Brisbane’s Water Come From?
The water supply in Brisbane primarily originates from a collection of dams located within the South East Queensland (SEQ) Water Grid: Wivenhoe, Somerset, North Pine, Hinze, Baroon Pocket, Leslie Harrison, Ewen Maddock, Cooloolabin, Sideling Creek, Lake Macdonald, Little Nerang and Wappa. When rain falls in the catchment areas, it accumulates in these dams, ready to begin its journey to become the fresh, clean water that flows from your taps.
The SEQ Water Grid consists of multiple entities:
Seqwater is the bulk water supplier that sources, stores, treats and supplies bulk drinking water through the SEQ Water Grid for distribution to customers through a network of dams, water treatment plants, a desalination plant, reservoirs, pump stations and supply pipelines.
Water Treatment Process in Brisbane
Brisbane’s water treatment process is a complex, multi-step procedure designed to ensure the water is safe, clean, and ready for use. Water collected in the dams undergoes rigorous treatment at two key plants in the Brisbane region: Mt Crosby to the west and North Pine to the north, before distribution to the city and surrounding areas.
The treatment plants use sophisticated technology and proven techniques to remove impurities and potential health risks. Each year, millions of litres of water are treated and tested, ensuring the supply meets the highest standards.
The first step in the water treatment process is coagulation. During this phase, a coagulant, often aluminium or iron salts, is added to the water. This causes tiny particles in the water to bind together, forming larger, more manageable clumps known as ‘floc’. This procedure is crucial, as it allows for easier removal of fine particles and microorganisms that can make the water unsafe.
Flocculation and Sedimentation
Following coagulation, the water moves to the flocculation and sedimentation stages. Flocculation involves slowly stirring the water to encourage the coagulated particles to gather together, forming larger flocs.
Next, during sedimentation, these larger flocs settle to the bottom of the water supply due to gravity. This process is a marvel of simplicity and effectiveness, as it doesn’t rely on energy-intensive machinery, but on the natural forces of gravity.
After sedimentation, the water undergoes filtration, where it is passed through layers of sand, gravel and sometimes, activated carbon. These act like a net, trapping the remaining particulate matter, including flocs and any lingering bacteria, parasites and viruses. The result? Crystal-clear water.
Disinfection and pH Correction
Before the water is distributed to the homes and businesses of Brisbane, it undergoes two more essential processes: disinfection and pH correction. Disinfection involves adding a small amount of chlorine to kill any remaining microorganisms. This critical step ensures that the water remains safe as it travels through the pipelines to your tap.
pH correction, meanwhile, involves adjusting the pH of the water to prevent corrosion of the pipelines. The pH level of Brisbane’s water is typically adjusted to be between 6.5 and 8.5, a safe range that complies with Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
In this informative video, Seqwater explains how they make the water safe for drinking
Using Desalination to Ease Water Supplies
The Gold Coast Desalination Plant serves the function of converting seawater into drinkable water. This facility is key in providing a stable water source, independent of rainfall and unaffected by climate changes, stepping up its production during extreme weather events such as floods or droughts, or when traditional water treatment methods are unavailable.
Situated at Tugun, the Gold Coast Desalination Plant relies on reverse osmosis technology to efficiently remove salts and various minerals from seawater, converting it into suitable drinking water.
Following the creation of permeate, essential minerals are reintroduced to the water, allowing it to be mixed with other treated water sources or directly distributed to regional residences, businesses and industries.
How Hard is Tap Water in Brisbane?
‘Hard’ water refers to water containing an elevated level of dissolved natural minerals, specifically compounds of calcium and magnesium, like chalk.
In Brisbane, the water is considered to be ‘hard’ to ‘moderately hard,’ depending on the specific location and source. This hardness can cause some unique issues around the home, such as creating soap scum or leaving white residue marks on surfaces. Inside hot water systems and kettles, it might even lead to scaling problems.
Despite these inconveniences, it’s important to note that hard water poses no threat to human health.
Brisbane Water Quality Tests
To guarantee the quality of Brisbane’s water supply, testing is performed regularly. These tests analyse a variety of factors including microbial content, turbidity, pH level and concentrations of various minerals. In addition, sensory factors such as taste, odour and colour are evaluated. Brisbane’s water quality testing is robust and comprehensive, adhering strictly to the stringent standards set by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
Is Brisbane tap water safe to drink?
The ultimate question: is Brisbane tap water safe to drink? Absolutely! Thanks to the rigorous treatment and testing processes, Brisbane’s tap water is not just safe, it’s also one of the highest quality drinking waters in the world. While the taste can vary slightly due to the natural minerals present in the water, these are harmless and can even contribute to your daily mineral intake.
Keep a Steady Supply of Water in Your Brisbane Home or Business
Brisbane’s water supply is a testament to the successful combination of nature’s resources, scientific ingenuity and consistent quality control. So the next time you turn on your tap, take a moment to appreciate the journey your water has taken to get there.
For all your plumbing needs in the Brisbane area, get in touch with Brisbane Plumbing and Drainage. Contact our friendly team to learn more about our services or book an experienced plumber for 24 hour service and repairs.