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Water Testing and Water Treatment Processes

To ensure only clean and clear water is pumped into our reservoirs and dams, Council's raw water monitoring station at Koree Island runs regular tests on water that flows into the Hastings River, and will shut down pumps if water quality drops.  As the water makes its way into our homes, over 130 samples are taken from 47 monitoring taps around the Port Macquarie-Hastings area. To ensure these tests are accurate they will often be analysed in both Port Macquarie and Newcastle laboratories.

The majority of testing for the catchment monitoring program and water supply monitoring takes place at Council’s Environmental Laboratory, situated at Charles Sturt University's Port Macquarie Campus.  This laboratory has microbiology and chemistry laboratories, and also runs tests to monitor our wastewater system. 

Tests include: 

  • Dissolved Oxygen (DO) - is a measure of the amount of oxygen dissolved in a water supply, and is a useful indicator of water quality including the health of aquatic life and it's impact on natural stream purification processes.
  • Turbidity - is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of a water supply caused by micro particles such as silt and sediment, organic compounds and algae. High turbidity can cause increased costs for water treatment processing and degradation of aquatic life.
  • pH - a test to find out how acidic or alkaline the water is. Fluctuations in these levels can lead to corrosiveness, scale build up on pipes and fixtures and metallic or alkali tasting water. 
  • Nutrients and metals - nutrients are tested (including phosphorous) as it is a good indicator of pollution from fertilisers and sewerage.  If phosphate levels are too high, algal blooms may form which strangle waterways and cause unpleasant tastes and smells.
  • Salinity - a  test to check the amount of salt dissolved in the water.  High levels can cause problems for aquatic life and irrigated crops
  • E. coli - This bacteria is found in large numbers in the faeces of humans and warm-blooded animals. Known as "faecal coliforms" they are an effective indicator of sewerage or animal waste pollution and the presence of other potentially harmful bacteria.

Technology is quickly advancing and some tests are very specialised and expensive.  Council therefore outsources some tests to other laboratories.

Water Treatment Processes

To ensure the Port Macquarie-Hastings area has safe drinking water, we treat and disinfect water sourced from our rivers before it enters the water supply system.

Disinfection:  Chlorine (depending on the location this can be either chlorine gas or liquid Sodium Hypochlorite) destroys any disease-causing bacteria.  The amount of added chlorine varies, but is typically about 1 milligram/litre.

Fluoridation:  To help prevent tooth decay, fluoride is added in small amounts - 1 milligram/litre.   This is a legal requirement under the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act, adminstered by the NSW  Department of Health.

pH Correction:  Lime is used to neutralise the pH of water as it is slightly acidic from the chlorine and fluoride added previously.  The lime minerals also help stop corrosion of household pipes and fittings.  Carbon Dioxide gas is also dosed along with the lime to assist in controlling the pH.

Water Treatment Plants

Council operates membrane filtration plants at  Wauchope, Telegraph Point, Long Flat and Comboyne.  These treatment plants provide filtered water to these communities.

Filtration:  Filters or membranes remove any solid particles that may be in the water as it passes through them.  The type of filters that Council uses are membranes that consist of thousands of polymer strands with microscopic pores.

This page was last updated on: 18 June 2020