Water quality

Lithgow City Council will notify customers of any water quality issues as soon as we become aware of them.

Customers who use large quantities of water or who are highly dependent on water, such as dialysis patients and businesses, are notified directly. Other customers are notified via community announcements and our website.

If you think you have an issue with your water quality we ask that you call us on 02 6354 9999 or visit our website.

Our comprehensive monitoring and maintenance program ensures our customers and consumers enjoy the highest quality water. However, external factors can sometimes alter water quality causing:

  • discoloured water 
  • algal bloom 
  • white water 
  • blue water

Discoloured Water

Discoloured water looks brown or muddy and can stain when washing. It is an irregular occurrence caused mainly by the natural element, manganese.

While water may look brown, it will not cause people to become ill if consumed. Manganese levels up to 0.5 mg/L are safe to drink. If you receive brown water, generally it will maintain manganese levels of less than 0.5 mg/L – and is therefore safe to drink.

Manganese collects on the inside of pipes. During times of high demand or changes in flow, these films can loosen, causing water to appear stained or dirty. We prevent the problem at our water treatment plants and undertake substantial flushing of the pipe system in affected areas.

If discoloured water is present, it can stain clothes when washing. During times of discoloured water we suggest residents delay washing clothes. If this is not possible, we recommend:

  • running some water into the machine to check the water colour before washing clothes
  • check the water colour before the washing machine reaches the rinse cycle – as it is at this stage that clothes can be stained.
What should I do if the washing gets dirty?

If your load of washing is dirty or stained, you should keep the washing completely wet, and not hang it out. If you have a nappy stain remover then the affected washing should be soaked and washed as directed, as they often can remove the stains once the water has been cleared.

Some washing powders cause the pH level of the water in the washing machine to increase, and this has the effect of causing manganese or iron in the water to come out of solution and to stain the washing. Also, powders high in phosphorus can also have the same effect.

A good quality liquid dishwashing detergent can also help remove dirty water stains.

Algal bloom

Blue-green algae (or cynobacteria) is responsible for many of the algal blooms in Lithgow’s recreational waterways during the past few years. Blue-green algae feeds on nutrients washed into waterways, or from nutrients released from sediments.

Algal blooms are likely to form when:
•the water is relatively still
•nutrients levels are high
•temperatures remain warm
•after a period of high rainfall that results in nutrients being washed from the catchment into the dam

Although algal blooms are very rare in Farmers Creek Dam water supply, our water treatment plant using a combination of flocculation, filtration and chlorination is highly effective in treating water affected by a bloom, making it safe and palatable to drink.

White water

Milky or cloudy appearance is usually due to tiny air bubbles in the water. This can occur when air is trapped in the pipes after they have been repaired, or if carbon dioxide is released by the sudden reduction in pressure with a tap discharging.

Air in water is harmless and a glass of white water left standing will quickly clear.

Blue water

Blue water may have a cloudy, blue tinged appearance. It can taste bitter and metallic. In most cases it comes from copper pipe that has not been used for some time and has become slightly corroded.

Blue or green water may contain high levels of copper and should not be used for drinking or food preparation.

While blue water is potentially serious, the solution is simple. Flush the affected taps for one to two minutes before use. Testing shows that within seconds of flushing, copper levels drop to well below guideline limits.