Discoloured water

From time to time your water colour or appearance may change. This is known as discoloured water.


What causes discoloured water?

Discoloured water is a common occurrence and can be caused by a numbers of issues.

Yellow, rust, reddish/brown and black water is usually caused by minerals such as iron and manganese. While these elements are always present in the water in extremely low levels, an increase in temperature, exposure to soil or dirt or changes to the chemistry of the water can cause them to become visible and discolour the water.

Ageing pipes and fittings that are not cement lined can corrode, causing the water to discolour reddish brown. Milky or white water occurs when air becomes trapped in the pipes, usually after a main break has been repaired or from faulty pumps and air valves. It is harmless and will not stain your laundry.

Blue stains in the water may be caused by corrosion of internal plumbing. This is common if the hot water cylinder is made from copper. Discoloured water can also occur as a result of water main breaks, changes to system operations, construction and maintenance work, daily and seasonal variations in demand or fire fighting.

Is discoloured water safe to drink?

While not appealing, discoloured water is safe to drink and is not a cause of stomach upsets or diarrhoea.

We carry out weekly water quality tests at various locations across Wyong Shire. The NSW Department of Health also perform regular water quality tests.

Find out more about our rigorous water quality testing.

What should I do if I experience discoloured water?

First check our water outages page to see if there is a disruption in your area.

If not, run your front garden tap into a bucket for 60 seconds. If it is not clear, repeat this in half an hour. If the water in the front tap does not improve after an hour call us on 4350 5555.

Once the water in the front tap is clear, clear your inside water lines by running the back garden tap into a bucket until the water is clear.

Water collected during this process may be used your garden.

If you are experiencing repeat discoloured water incidents, call us with details of where and when the event occurred. This will help us analyse the information to determine further action.

Can I do a load of washing?

If you think you might have discoloured water check the colour of the water before doing a load of washing by following the process above.Do not wash until the water is clear.

It is especially important to check before the final rinse cycle as this is the time when clothes can be stained. Avoid using oxidising agents such as laundry bleach as this may intensify stains.

What should I do if my washing is stained?

Keep your washing wet, once the water clears try rewashing with clean water and your usual detergent. Don’t let your washing dry or use bleach/napisan-like products as this may set the stains.

If items are still stained keep wet and phone us on 4350 5555. We may need to inspect the items to verify damage.

Can I be compensated for clothing that cannot be cleaned?

If you have followed our instructions to remove stains and kept all items and related receipts, you may be eligible for compensation.

Claims must be submitted in writing addressed to Manager Wyong Water Commercial and Planning. Please include copies of all receipts (or obtain quotes where receipts are not available), photographic evidence and details about what compensation you are claiming. Do not throw items out even if photos have been taken. During the investigation, a Wyong Water officer may come out to inspect your damaged laundry. Any compensation may also take into account the age (depreciation) and condition (wear and tear) of the laundry.

Can I use my dishwasher?

It is best not to use your dishwasher until the water is clear. Discoloured water will not affect the operation of your dishwasher, but it may stain items.

Can I wash in discoloured water?

It is safe to shower and bath children and babies in discoloured water. As a precaution let the shower run until the water clears. Collect water in a bucket and reuse it on your garden.

Can I fill my swimming pool?

You should avoid topping up swimming pools until the water is clear. If you have concerns, follow the process above.

Am I eligible for compensation for the additional water I have used?

You should keep a log of excess water use (date, what the water was used for i.e. bath, washing machine, dishwasher). When you receive your next water usage account, make a claim in writing addressed to Manager Wyong Water Commercial and Planning, including a copy of the water usage account and log of excess water use.

Please note: running your garden tap fully open for one hour uses about $1.80 worth of water.

I run a business that is affected by the discoloured water, what can I do?

Contact us immediately on 4350 5555. Our staff will inspect the site and flush water from the mains if necessary.

Why was I not warned about receiving discoloured water?

We notify residents and businesses of scheduled works at least 24 hours in advance usually by letterbox drop. 

However, with over 1,200km of water mains that service more than 63,000 properties, unplanned events such as broken water mains are bound to occur.  This makes it difficult to determine exactly where and when discoloured water is likely to occur.

All disruptions to water supply will be posted on our Water Outages page.

Is there anything I can install in my home to prevent discoloured water?

Many homes now have small filters or aerators on tap outlets, however, it is unlikely they will prevent discoloured water. These devices can quickly become blocked, so it is important to check and clean them regularly to avoid bacteria build up.

Filters on your washing machine do not necessarily prevent laundry from becoming stained.

Filter installation is at the cost of the resident not Wyong Water.

Call us on 4350 5555 if you have any further enquiries.