Often we go to the kitchen, pick up a glass, turn on the tap and drink a glass of water - most of the time we do this without considering if the water is safe to drink, or how it got there.
A 30 minute version of the film, Our Safe Drinking Water, has been developed for use in schools. It features a visit by students from Paekākāriki School to the Waikanae Water Treatment Plant. This version has been shortened to under 12 minutes for the web.
Water taste and odour - Frequently asked questions:
My water tastes different, is it safe to drink?
Tap water supplied by the Kāpiti Coast District Council is safe to drink. Operational procedures at our water treatment plants are specifically designed to address potential contamination risks and produce safe drinking water, and we regularly check the quality of the water that flows to our taps to confirm this. While our drinking water is safe to drink, you may sometimes notice changes in its taste and smell. Taste and smell can be affected by many factors, including temperature, time in pipes, river temperature and algae levels, and people’s plumbing materials, but this does not mean it is unsafe to drink.
Ok, so why does my water taste earthy?
When river levels are low and temperatures are high, the water taken from the river can contain more naturally occurring organic material like algae and bacteria that can generate taste and odour. Some algae can also produce toxins so we dose the water with activated carbon to remove this and make it safe to drink. Carbon dosing also helps to reduce the earthy taste and smell of other organic material, but there can still be some leftover taste and/or smell. Some people can taste this residual with as little concentration as one part per billion. Rest assured, however, that this is not harmful.
Is that chlorine I can smell/taste?
We use UV light and chlorine to kill harmful germs at the water treatment plants. Once the water leaves the treatment plant our drinking water retains a small amount of chlorine to protect it from more germs on the journey to your tap – it’s like a bodyguard for the water while it’s in transit. As the chlorine continues to disinfect the water in the water supply network, the process can create compounds that have that “chlorine” taste and/or odour. Chlorine concentrations can also vary slightly throughout the day as demand for water increases and it travels quicker through the networks or with temperature changes. The levels of chlorine found in drinking water are not harmful, however, some are more sensitive to this taste and smell, while others don’t notice it.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) says this residual chlorine shouldn’t be more than five milligrams per litre of water (mg/l). We continuously monitor and manage the chlorine levels leaving the plant and typically set a target range of 0.7mg/l to 1.1mg/l, well below the MoH’s maximum level.
Hmm, I can taste something else a bit unusual?
Customers occasionally contact us to report that the water from their tap tastes metallic, bitter, rubbery, plastic, or even mildly antiseptic. The Ministry of Health recommends flushing a mug of water from your tap each morning before use, as this is often the result of water dissolving and absorbing small amounts of substances from your plumbing. For example:
To find out if copper, iron or galvanised pipes are the issue, fill a pot with water and draw fresh water through the pipe, then see if it tastes different. Use the water in the pot to water a plant – it doesn’t need to be wasted!
To find out if the kettle or jug is the issue, try making a hot drink with water boiled in a saucepan and compare the taste with one made from the kettle or jug.
To find out if a dishwasher or washing machine hose is the issue, isolate the hose and try the water again. If this solves the problem, fit a non-return valve on the end of the hose where it connects to the pipework.
*Occasionally glasses or cups can also have residual traces of detergents from the dishwasher on them. Try rinsing with tap water and see if the taste persists. If it does, consider adjusting the amount of detergent used in the dishwasher.
Ok, so it’s safe, but what else can I do improve the taste?
We suggest you try flushing your property. This process moves all the water that has been sitting inside your pipes and replaces it with the fresh water from the main in your street.
Stage one of best practice flushing involves:
Stage 2 starts with the cold water tap furthest from your kitchen tap:
Finally, you could also try chilling your tap water in the fridge before drinking it – it just tastes better!