My water has a strong chlorine taste…

My water has a disagreeable taste, odour and/or smell..

What chemicals are added to the water supply?

How do I find out about the water quality in the supply system?

My water leaves a stain when it is boiled

My water is discoloured

How do I tell where the cause is?

What is Potable Water?

Who is a “Water Supply By Agreement” customer?

What is water hardness? and what is the hardness of my tap water?

All things Fluoridation… what is it? and how is it regulated?


Why are South Gippsland Water bills higher than Melbourne Water bills?

Victorian Water Corporations are financially regulated by the Essential Services Commission (ESC) Victoria. Water corporations cannot set their charges. For all water corporations, prices are independently reviewed by the ESC as part of a Price Submission process.

When reviewing prices, the ESC determines each Water Corporation’s needs and responsibilities to maintain and provide clean drinking water and safe removal of sewerage to their communities.

Comparing service charges between metropolitan and rural utilities does have some challenges.  Metropolitan utilities are service retailers only, with Melbourne Water responsible for the collection and treatment of water and the treatment and disposal of wastewater.  In comparison, South Gippsland Water is responsible for both bulk water collection and treatment as well as the retail side, which includes the pipe and pump network that moves the water and sewerage to and from your homes.

South Gippsland Water services 23,500 properties, covering 21 towns. We operate 8 separate water supply systems and 13 wastewater systems

For metropolitan water businesses, the customer ratio is much larger for the distribution of costs. Our accounts are issued three times per year, whereas metropolitan accounts are issued monthly or four times per year.

In comparison, South Gippsland Water has a smaller customer base with a wide area to service. For this reason, set charges vary between utilities.

For more information go to www.esc.vic.gov.au


My water has a strong chlorine taste…

All drinking water supplies are disinfected with chlorine. The addition of chlorine ensures that any pathogens (disease causing agents) are killed and that the water is safe to drink.
The reticulation/pipe work system is regularly monitored to ensure that appropriate chlorine levels are present to ensure there is disinfection downstream of the treatment plant and safe water is delivered to the customer’s tap.

Chlorine begins to be noticeable to average persons at levels greater than 0.6 mg/L. The chlorine residual within the supply can dissipate over time and distance. To try to maintain some chlorine at the extremities of, the reticulation system, the dosage at the treatment plant is often in excess of 0.6 mg/L. As excessive chlorine may cause taste and odour problems, the dosage is carefully managed.

Customers located near the treatment source will be supplied with water that has higher levels of chlorine and could be more susceptible to the taste and smell of chlorine than those customers that are located further down the system. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines have an upper limit of 5 mg/L.

South Gippsland Water is acutely aware that chlorine may degrade the taste and smell of water. The need for good tasting water is therefore carefully balanced against the need to guarantee water safety.

  • If your water has a strong chlorine odour or taste you can fill a large clean jug and let stand overnight. This will usually be enough time for the chlorine to dissipate.


My water has a disagreeable taste, odour and/or smell…

Many factors may contribute to water taste, smell and odour problems. The significant factors are algae and chlorine.
Algae often grow in water storages particularly over the hotter summer months. As the bloom recedes and the algae die off they will release chemical substances into the water that may cause a disagreeable taste and odour.
South Gippsland Water controls potential algae problems by adopting the following management approaches:

  • Algae prevention. South Gippsland Water regularly monitors water storages for the presence of algae. If algae are detected in high numbers, if possible, the affected water storage will be taken off line.
  • Water Treatment. Water treatment plants, treat water by a filtering process that will remove the majority of sediments and some taste and odour compounds


What chemicals are added to the water supply?

All potable drinking water supplies are treated to ensure that the water is safe and aesthetically pleasing. Chemicals are added to facilitate the treatment process.

Below is an overview of the typical chemicals added during water treatment. For more detail on what specific chemicals are added to each treatment facility please view the Annual Drinking Water Quality Report.

  • Small quantities of Alum (Aluminium Sulphate) are added to the raw water during the treatment process. This chemical causes pollutants such as bacteria and sediments to flocculate into larger clumps that can be extracted by a clarification / filtration process. In some cases an additional chemical known as a polymer is used to assist the alum in the flocculation process.
  • An essential part of the treatment process involves the addition of a disinfecting agent to kill off any remaining bacteria that are not extracted during the filtration process. South Gippsland Water uses chlorine-based chemicals such as chlorine gas or sodium hypochlorite to disinfect the water. The amount of chlorines added is equivalent to less than half a cup in an average -sized backyard swimming pool. If too much chlorine is added the taste and odour of the water may be degraded and so this process is carefully managed.
  • Where water has to travel over long distances, ammonia is added to create chemicals (chloramines) which have superior disinfection characteristics.
  • The addition of treatment chemicals alters the pH of the water. Lime or Soda ash is added as a final step of the treatment process to restore the pH balance.

Can I use the water in my Fish Tank?

Chemicals associated with treating water needs to be neutralised or removed from water before it is use in aquariums or fish ponds.

Some of South Gippsland Water systems use a process called chloramination and the usual means of chemical removal, such as exposure to sunlight or leaving the water to stand for several hours will not work in this instance.

There are several commercial products on the market suitable for the removal of chemicals and South Gippsland Water suggest to check with your vet for the best local options.


How do I find out about the water quality in the supply system?

South Gippsland Water publishes monthly water quality testing results and an annual report on water quality. These can be viewed on the Water Quality page.


My water leaves a stain when it is boiled

Many of the catchments in South Gippsland contain naturally occurring minerals such as iron, calcium and manganese. When the water is boiled the water will evaporate and leave a precipitation of mineral salts. These minerals may cause scale to accumulate in kettles and hot water services. This is not a concern from a health perspective. For further information, visit the Water Quality page or Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.


My water is discoloured

Customers served by treated water supplies should receive water that is aesthetically pleasing and consistent in quality. Water may become discoloured from disturbance of sediment in the supply system, or from corroding internal piping. Flushing the pipe can clear sediment and discoloration. South Gippsland Water undertakes a regular flushing program in all of its systems to prevent sediment build up. Private plumbing can also be flushed if water is a problem by running your taps on a high flow rate for a short period. Advice from professional plumbers should also be sought if internal plumbing is thought to be the cause.


How do I tell where the cause is?

To determine the source of discolouration try the following steps:

  • Take two white containers (white ice-cream containers are perfect).
  • Turn on the tap closest to the meter and fill one container. Leave the tap running for a few minutes then fill the other container.
  • If the first sample is discoloured and the later sample is clear, the piping between the water main and the meter may be the cause. If there is no difference, the water supply is the likely cause. If this is the case, please contact us – 5682 0444.
  • Apply the same procedure on the tap furthest away from the meter, normally a back yard tap. If the water from the tap closest to the meter is clean and the water from the back yard tap is not, it is likely the internal plumbing is the cause and a plumber will be able to advise of a solution such as pipe replacement.


Discoloured water & laundry

If you are doing laundry and notice that the water contains particles or has a taint to it, leave the laundry items in the machine or tub; do not spin or hang out to dry as this will set stains that may have formed. South Gippsland Water can supply you with a product to add to the water to prevent staining – call 1300 851 636.


Discoloured Water – Manganese

Often the colour in the water is due to the presence of a naturally-occurring mineral, known as manganese. This mineral is always present however, normally manganese sediments settle to the bottom of the pipe reticulation network where they don’t cause problems for customers.  Changes to pressure and flows within the system i.e. during peak summer water demand or when a water main bursts cause sediments to be stirred up and enter the flow to customers’ taps. Manganese sediments tend to give the water a yellow through to brown or “dirty” appearance.


What is Potable Water?

Water that is fit for drinking purposes is termed “potable”. Drinking water must meet a number of strict health and aesthetic quality standards as specified in the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003. The region is serviced with a number of water treatment plants and monitoring is undertaken to ensure this standard is maintained at all times.


Who is a “Water Supply By Agreement” customer?

Customers are required to enter into a Water Supply by Agreement if the water supplied to their property does not meet our Customer Code/Charter.  A Water Supply Agreement acknowledges the arrangement between South Gippsland Water and the property owner for the supply of water. It also outlines any service constraints specific to the property, and the commitments of both the property owner and South Gippsland Water.

Water by Agreement Information Sheet

What is water hardness? and what is the hardness of my tap water?

Hardness is a measure of the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in water.

Table:  Water hardness for SGW supply systems

Supplying water treatment plant (WTP)


Towns supplied Water Hardness in mmol/L* Description
Minimum Average Maximum
Devon North WTP Alberton

Devon North

Port Albert


0.16 0.24 0.31 Soft

Dumbalk WTP


Dumbalk 0.48 0.95 1.60 Soft to moderate

Fish Creek WTP


Fish Creek 0.18 0.35 0.63 Soft

Foster WTP


Foster 0.17 0.32 0.44 Soft
Lance Creek WTP Cape Paterson



Lance Creek






0.18 0.67 0.99 Soft to moderate
Leongatha WTP Koonwarra


0.37 0.61 0.87 Soft to moderate

Meeniyan WTP


Meeniyan 0.49 0.79 1.30 Soft to moderate
Toora WTP Agnes


Port Franklin

Port Welshpool



0.16 0.32 0.44 Soft

* Based on quarterly hardness monitoring of distribution system entry point sites in period Sept 2016 to Sept 2021

My new dishwasher requires a hardness value to be entered, which should I use?

For new dishwashers, check the manual to confirm that units of mmol/Litre are required (this is usually the case).  If yes, then enter the average value for your town.  If different units are required, then convert average value, as per below.

Hardness can be expressed in several ways (i.e. with different units).  In the table above, hardness values are provided in millimoles per litre of alkaline earth metals (mmol/L).   For conversions see below:

·       To convert to milligrams per litre Calcium Carbonate equivalents (mg/L CaCO3), multiply values in table (above) by 100.


·       To convert to German degrees (°dH or dH), multiply values in table by 5.6


·       To convert to French degrees (°f), multiply values in table by 10