Water quality issues

Water quality issues

Brown, dirty or discoloured water

Brown, dirty or discoloured water is often associated with maintenance work but may also be related to internal plumbing.

What to do:

If your water is dirty/discoloured from maintenance work, simply run your tap for a few minutes after the works are completed to let the clear water come through.

If the water does not clear, please contact council on 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

If you have an internal plumbing issue, i.e. corrosion of the pipes, please contact a licensed plumber to investigate.

Water that has a brown tinge to it, is still safe to drink, as the colour change is due to elevated concentrations of iron and manganese.

Cloudy water

Cloudy water is often caused by air in the pipes and is not harmful in any way.

This can happen during the flushing of mains and the operation of hot water units or aerators on taps.

What to do:

Simply fill-up a glass or container with water and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. The water should clear as soon as the bubbles rise to the top and settle.

If the water does not clear, please contact council on 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

Blue or green coloured water

Blue or green discoloured water is usually caused by corrosion of household cooper pipes.

It may also occur in new houses with new copper pipes and it will reduce overtime.

What to do:

In the short term, flush the affected tap for two minutes. This clears the water in the affected pipes.

To fix the problem contact a licensed plumber to inspect your pipes for corrosion and replace them if required.


If you are concerned about the odour or taste of your water, please contact council on 1300 MACKAY (622 529) and complete a customer request. Common odour/taste complaint types are described below.

Chlorine taste/odour

All drinking water treated by council’s water treatment plants and treatment facilities is disinfected with chlorine. Chlorine is a common drinking water disinfectant used to kill bacteria and inactivate viruses. We maintain a level of chlorine in the water network to protect against bacteria and viruses in the unlikely event they get into the water network after treatment.

You may be able to smell or taste the chlorine in the water when the amount of chlorine added is changed for various operational reasons.  If you live near one of council’s water treatment plants or treatment facilities, you may notice changes in the chlorine levels in the water.

Is chlorine harmful?

Council undertakes a comprehensive drinking water monitoring program which includes monitoring of chlorine throughout the work. Chlorine results are assessed against National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. These national guidelines have determined the level at which chlorine is safe in drinking water.

What to do

The chlorine smell will evaporate simply by allowing water to stand for a few hours in a glass or jug. Aerators on taps and some commercially available filters can help reduce the amount of chlorine in drinking water. If you are still concerned with the level of chlorine in the water supplied to your property, or are seeking more information, please contact council on 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

Petrol/Solvent Odour

A potential cause of this odour is spilled petroleum-based products (such as petrol, oil or turps) permeating into your plumbing. If you, or people working around your property have spilled any petroleum-based products, these can leach through your water meter or plastic pipes as they are not resistant to these chemical types. Council recommends you take special care when using chemicals on your property, especially in the area around your water meter box.

What to do

If you believe there has been a petroleum-based product spill at your property we recommend you flush the internal pipework and hot water service thoroughly and frequently. This can involve turning all the taps on in the house and running water for a few hours or watering the lawn from the tap furthest away from the water meter. You can also filter any water for drinking through a carbon filter cartridge. The hydrocarbons will absorb onto the carbon in the filter cartridge.  Council can also assist you with undertaking tests to confirm the source of contamination. Please contact council on 1300 MACKAY (622 529) to find out how we can help. For more information see the spills fact sheet available here.

Water pressure

During normal operating periods, water will be provided to the meter at a pressure of 22m of head (220kPA), and a rate of 20L/min.

Properties that are part of a Tank Replenishment Scheme are subject to different water pressures.

What to do:

If you believe your water pressure is low, please contact council on 1300 MACKAY (622 529) so council can investigate.

Pressure testing will be carried out to determine the problem. Water pressure issues could be caused by water meter problems, internal plumbing issues or blockages within water meters or mains.

The quality of our H2O

Mackay Regional Council’s water is rigorously tested by our laboratory.

Many tests are performed on both our raw and potable water supplies to ensure it meets the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Water from our Nebo Road Water Treatment Plant was voted Queensland’s best tasting tap water in 2018 and water from our Marian Water Treatment Plant was voted best tasting tap water in Queensland and Australia in 2019 and second best in the world in 2020.

For more information visit: Water Laboratory

Our laboratory also offers a variety of water testing suites to the general public including testing water tanks, bores and irrigation systems.