Is Perth Tap Water Safe to Drink?
Perth, we know the eastern states like to brag about the quality of their tap water. Whether you’re a tourist headed to the western state’s capital or a longtime resident, you might be curious to know how safe it is to drink tap water in Perth, Western Australia.
How does Perth drinking water compare to the rest of the nation? Does it meet drinking water guidelines? Or are you better off ditching Perth’s water supply and drinking bottled water instead?
Metropolitan Plumbing has your expert plumbers in Perth. We’re going to run you through everything you need to know about Perth drinking water so you can keep yourself and your family safe.
Why Does Water Have a Taste?
Perth sources most of its drinking water from groundwater or a desalination plant. It travels from the source to a treatment plant and finally to your tap. Along the way, it picks up a variety of things that give your water a distinct taste. There are an array of factors that affect how your water tastes, and it can even change over time and across different locations.
You will find minerals, salts, metals and a whole host of other materials in your water. These are the total dissolved solids (TDS).
Studies have shown which specific TDS components make water taste the best. Highly rated water had relatively high concentrations of bicarbonate, sulphate, calcium and magnesium ions along with a higher pH. Poorly rated tap water, however, had higher concentrations of sodium, potassium and chloride ions. Other studies have shown that water activates the sour taste receptor cells on your tongue.
Before your water supplier delivers water to your home, it undergoes treatment. This can affect its taste as well. Treatment plants add chlorine as a disinfectant. This is especially important when water is being transported over long distances and the temperature varies. Warmer temperatures would allow the growth of harmful organisms if this disinfectant is not used.
Water is also fluoridated to improve dental health. The Department of Health directs the addition of fluoride to our water, and the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1966 regulates it.
How is Perth Tap Water Quality Checked?
There are multiple government bodies involved in monitoring water quality across Western Australia and Australia in general. Simply put, the Advisory Committee for the Purity of Water has been monitoring Western Australia water quality for nearly a century now.
There are tests on water samples across Perth and regions of WA in accordance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Moreover, there are annual reports published with recommendations for continuous improvements to water quality. Water quality tests use a set of health and aesthetic criteria to ensure it is of acceptable quality.
Is Perth Tap Water Safe?
Generally speaking, yes, you won’t have a problem drinking tap water in the Western Australia capital. Water Corporation’s 2018-2019 report showed that every region in Perth that supplied a sample met the health-related Guideline requirements which tested for:
- Microorganisms such as E. coli and thermophilic Naegleria
- Hydrocarbons – petroleum oil
- Metals e.g.: heavy metals
- And other general health-related concerns
Furthermore, the Perth, Western Australia, region also met nearly all the aesthetic guideline requirements. While not health-related aesthetics refer to the taste, odour, colour, turbidity, salinity, hardness and temperature of your drinking water. These tests assessed:
- alkalinity – calcium carbonate
- water hardness
- true colour
Water Hardness Level Perth
Part of water quality guidelines tests water hardness. This is a measure of the concentration of minerals in your Perth water. A high concentration of minerals is considered ‘hard’ and a low concentration is ‘soft’.
While not harmful to our health, hard water does have a number of disadvantages, including:
- leaves a white solid residue on your tapware which requires more cleaning products to be used
- soap is more difficult to lather up, making washing dishes and showering more challenging
- watermarks and limescale residue can be left on clean dishes
- freshly washed laundry can feel stiff from limescale residue left behind
- hard water can taste unpleasant
Too soft water also has its disadvantages, but it is uncommon to find this. Only two regions did not meet the hard water criteria, as the water supply for these areas is characteristically hard. A water softener can help mitigate the effects of your water hardness level in Perth, however.
Sodium in Perth Water
There is one aesthetic quality that concerns a group of people, however – sodium. Guidelines suggest that salinity should not exceed 500 mg/L. These guidelines often use TDS to measure salinity. Some districts in Perth have the highest salinity water in Australia, so much so that the water can taste salty!
Sodium is one of two elements in the chemical structure of salt. 20 mg/L of sodium per litre of water is the maximum recommended amount for those on a low sodium diet. The average sodium concentration in Perth districts ranged from 23 mg/L all the way up to 133 mg/L in the 2018-2019 report by Water Corporation. That’s more than 6 times the recommended limit in your drinking water!
While this is clearly a problem for those who must stick to a low sodium diet, Australians overconsume salt and most of this comes from processed food. For those in a high sodium water area, your water might play a bigger part than you anticipated.
While you can’t control the quality of your water supplies, you have some control over the quality of your drinking water. No one wants to be drinking bottled water forever, so if water quality is a concern to you, contact Metropolitan Plumbing. Whether you need a plumber to install a water softener or a filter, we can help improve your water quality in Western Australia.
Published: 7 Sep, 2020