Table Of Contents
Have you ever wondered what is in tap water in Australia? Maybe not, but knowing what is in the water is essential because you use it daily. You use tap water for many reasons, including drinking, washing clothes, cleaning dishes, watering your plants, and other uses.
There are several debates about whether tap water in Australia is safe for human consumption. Some argue that the water quality needs to be safer, while others are of the contrary opinion. So, what is in tap water in Australia? This article focuses on this, so read on to find out more.
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines outline the characteristics of high-quality drinking water. The guidelines include both aesthetic and health properties such as odour and taste. All the water supplied by all the councils and other water companies must meet all the guidelines provided.
As per the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, water is only safe for drinking if a supply doesn't go beyond a pre-defined level of certain pollutants such as nitrates, heavy metals, and pathogens, making it safe for drinking. According to The Public Health Act 2010, all Australian drinking water suppliers must regularly conduct water quality assurance tests.
Can You Drink Tap Water In Australia?
Most people wonder whether water from Australian taps is safe for drinking. One of the things you should note is that Australia is the driest country and continent in the world. It also has the highest number of water consumers globally. In the country, the surface water in reservoirs is the primary source of municipal water supply. Unfortunately, this makes the water supply susceptible to dry climate because just a tiny amount comes from groundwater.
Until the late 1990s, most people in Australia were comfortably drinking tap water. However, in 1998, Sydney Water had to warn consumers that drinking water from its most extensive treatment plant had dangerous parasites and was unsafe for drinking. Though the issue was addressed, the source leading to the contamination wasn't pinpointed. This, in turn, adversely affected people's trust in water safety from the Australian taps.
Additionally, there's a further concern since alkaline water is only monitored for about seventy chemicals, while almost three hundred must be monitored. For instance, tap water contains microplastics that are unregulated. Moreover, as stipulated in the guidelines, the maximum amount of chemicals such as chlorine, nitrates, and lead allowed in tap water is based on children and adults, not infants.
Note that no level of nitrates or lead is safe for infants. Another primary concern regarding the safety of tap water in Australia is that the testing is usually done directly after the water treatment. Thus, tap water could still get contaminated after testing if your home has damaged or old galvanized pipes, as they might contain contaminants such as lead, biofilm, copper, or plastics.
What Is Contained In Australian Tap Water?
Australian tap water contains several elements and minerals. There are strict requirements on the number of minerals and other elements tap water should have. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines stipulate these regulations.
Minerals in the tap water
Though there are several concerns about the safety of tap water in Australia, the water is still of high quality. The strict requirements are essential in ensuring that tap water in Australia is safe for your consumption. There is also reasonable control to ensure the water utilities meet these requirements.
As a result, Australian tap water doesn't contain pathogenic bacteria, toxic substances, or heavy metals. It's also worth noting that tap water has fewer potential harmful elements than most bottled waters. Some of the minerals contained in tap water in Australia include:
- Calcium: Tap water in Australia is rich in calcium, which plays a role in the development of healthy teeth and strong bones. It also helps in blood clotting, hormone production, and cell growth.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is also plentily found in tap water. The mineral helps develop strong bones, hormone production, and cell growth.
- Sodium: Tap water contains sodium which is vital for balancing your body fluid. It's also perfect for blood pressure regulation.
- Potassium: Like sodium, potassium helps balance your body fluid and blood pressure. It also helps in managing your blood sugar levels and conducting nerve impulses.
- Phosphorous: Australian tap water also contains phosphorous that boosts endurance and fights fatigue. This mineral also helps in the conversion of sugar to energy in your body.
In addition to the above minerals, tap water in Australia also contains several trace elements. These are minerals your body requires in small quantities and include:
- Copper: Tap water has copper that helps form bone and connective tissue. This mineral also helps in blood clotting and generally boosts your immune system.
- Iron: Iron helps in your body's blood cell production and oxygen transportation. This is why doctors prescribe iron supplements when you suffer from anemia. The mineral also helps in boosting your metabolic processes.
- Selenium: This is an antioxidant that helps to protect your body against cell damage. It also boosts thyroid gland functioning.
- Chromium: Tap water also contains chromium that helps convert carbohydrates in your body into energy and insulin uptake.
- Zinc: It is a mineral that helps synthesise protein and tissue growth. It also helps your body's metabolism and boosts the functioning of your immune system.
Is Tap Water In AUS Healthier Than Bottled Water?
Both tap and bottled water in Australia have almost the same health benefits. As seen above, tap water has many minerals that offer various benefits. Tap water is safe to drink unless a unique case in your area affects its quality. In this case, your water utility company will give an alert.
Some factors that could make tap water unsafe to drink include floods, which could contaminate water sources with dirt or bacteria in the water supply. Bottled water has additional minerals that give people the impression that it's healthier than tap water; however, this is not the case.
Bottled water has fewer calcium, potassium, and magnesium minerals than tap water. Some bottled water varieties also feature higher levels of harmful substances like nitrate, chlorine, and other chemicals emanating from plastic, like bisphenol.
How To Make Australian Tap Water Safer
If you are still concerned about the safety of your Australian tap water, there are different methods that you could apply to make it safe for human consumption. Here are some of the methods you can do it.
Boiling tap water is the most affordable and safest way to purify tap water in Australia. The water supply or the pipes could render the water unsafe with germs and parasites that could harm your health.
Fortunately, you could kill the parasites and germs by simply boiling the water and then letting it boil, allowing it to remain at the boiling point for at least three minutes. Once the time lapses, you can then turn off the heat source. Then leave your water to cool before you drink.
Filtration helps purify water and is a method that uses physical and chemical processes to make water safe for consumption. With the right water filters, you can effectively remove all the unsafe compounds in your tap water and make it safe to drink.
The technique removes both small and large contaminants. It is the best method to purify Australian tap water since it doesn't remove all the mineral salts essential for your health.
You could also use the distillation method to purify your tap water. This technique uses heat to collect pure water in vapour form. It is effective in killing disease-causing elements and contaminants found in tap water.
With distillation, the water in your taps is subjected to a heat source until it reaches the boiling point and left until it vaporises. The method helps remove germs, bacteria, heavy metals, and salts.
Need Help Determining If Your Tap Water Is Safe?
If you are in Australia and concerned about the safety of the water coming from your taps, you could request a plumber to come and inspect your piping system. They could help inspect your pipes and determine whether they are in perfect condition to prevent water contamination.
A plumbing contractor could also help replace any contaminated or damaged water pipes with new ones to ensure that your home or business's tap water is safe to drink. They could also detect other contaminants that might affect the safety of your tap water, clean your pipes and effectively remove the contaminants from your water piping system.