Drinking Water Quality

Water quality testing

MidCoast Water Services has a comprehensive testing regime to ensure that water quality meets the required standards.

We use standards set out in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, which are based on drinking water guidelines developed by the World Health Organisation. We also cooperate with NSW Health in our management of water quality. Testing is carried out regularly at water supply sources such as rivers and weirs, storage areas such as dams and reservoirs and from customers' garden taps.

This testing regime helps to build up a history of water quality and identify any problems within the system. Common tests include E. coliand total coliforms bacteria, pH, temperature, colour, turbidity, fluoride, chlorine, aluminium, iron, manganese, disinfection byproducts and hardness.

Water quality results in the table below contain a summary of water testing undertaken at customers' taps during the last three months.

Drinking water quality test results summary - 1 Jan 2019 to 30 April 2019

Water Quality Parameter

E. coli Turbidity pH
Australian Drinking Water Guidelinescriteria At least 98% samples contain no E. coli bacteria Less than 5 NTU 6.5-9.2* pH units
Water Supply System % of results complying % of results complying/average result % of results complying/average result
Manning 100% 100%  / 0.18 100% / 7.59
Tea Gardens 100% 100% / 0.13 100% / 7.55
Bulahdelah 100% 100% / 0.40 100% / 7.82
Stroud 100% 100% / 0.57 100% / 8.42
Gloucester 100% 100% / 0.13 100% / 8.24
North Karuah 100% 100% / 0.24 100% / 8.13
Criteria based on health or aethetic related value Health Aesthetic Aesthetic

                              NTU - nephelometric turbidity units                        

                            * Aesthetic guideline of pH  = 6.5 - 8.5. A value up to 9.2 may be tolerated, provided monitoring indicates no deterioration in

                             microbiological quality as stated in Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.    

For more details please see our Drinking Water Quality Management System - DWQMS - Annual Report Summary 2016-17

If guidelines for E. coli and total coliforms bacteria are not met MidCoast Water Services will issue a boil water alert to affected customers.

Managing water quality

To ensure we continue to deliver high quality drinking water to our communities we have adopted a Drinking Water Quality Management System (DWQMS).

This system documents our approach to managing water quality from the catchment to the tap.

It shows our commitment to providing safe and reliable drinking water and covers how we manage the quality of water from the catchments, through to our storages, treatment and distribution processes to ensure quality at our customers' taps.

The system has been developed with the involvement of NSW Health and documents our comprehensive management system to ensure the water we supply is maintained both to protect public health and meet regulatory requirements.

The system demonstrates both the operational and monitoring practices we use, and also provides an analysis of water testing results and an assessment of long term trends in drinking water quality.

This document was revised in June 2018. A copy of this revised version can be found here

A summary document is available here

Learn about water quality issues here:

  • If contamination by a pathogen such as bacteria or protozoa occurs, a boil water alert will be issued to affected customers.
  • Blue-green or rusty brown discolouration of the water is often caused by copper and rust from pipes within your home, rather than from the supply itself. Learn more about copper and rust in drinking water.
  • Some people will experience a white scale caused by calcium build up, often noticeable on kettles and shower screens. This can be removed by a weak acid such as vinegar. Calcium in the water relates to water hardness.

Water hardness

The 'hardness' of water is something that is of interest when it comes to new appliances. Often new washing machines or dishwashers have specific settings for various levels of water hardness. As a guide, water with less than 60mg/litre is considered 'soft', up to 200mg 'good quality', between 200mg and 500 mg 'hard' and more than 500 mg is 'very hard'.

Our Manning supply is considered 'good quality' and the Bulahdelah, Stroud, Gloucester and Tea Gardens supplies are considered 'soft'.

The actual details are provided below.

Total hardness units Manning(Manning/ Taree and Forster/ Tuncurry) Bulahdelah Stroud Gloucester Tea Gardens North Karuah
mg/L CaCO3/L (ppm) 61 40 54 30 47 71
mmol/L(millimol per litre)
0.61 0.4 0.54 0.3 0.47 0.71
German degrees 8.54 5.6 7.56 4.2 6.58 9.94
French degrees 15.25 10 13.5 7.5 11.75 17.75


For more information on the use of flouride in our water supplies, follow this link to NSW Health's fact sheet on water fluoridation in NSW

Memorandum of Understanding with NSW Health

On 19 April 2018, MidCoast Council and NSW Health renewed their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

First signed in 2007 and re-signed in 2013, the MoU is designed to align the long-term strategic goals of both organisations in the area of public health protection.

The MoU formalises the establishment of a joint strategic group and a joint operational group, with representatives from both organisations as well as plans and protocols for dealing with events of public health significance.

The agreement covers drinking water quality management, monitoring and reporting as well as working together on emerging public health issues related to drinking water, recycled water and wastewater.

The MoU also expresses the intention of both organisations to establish common direction in the area of research and development on public health issues related to drinking water, recycled water and wastewater.

Our Laboratory

The MidCoast Council water laboratory offers a range of services which are available to the general community.

Analysis and reporting on a broad range of samples can be undertaken, including the following:

  • Potable water
  • Groundwater
  • Leachate
  • Oyster and pippi flesh

Analysis can be provided for the purposes of licensing and regulatory compliance, public health and safety requirements, operational monitoring and environmental monitoring requirements.


MidCoast Water Services Laboratory offers a field sampling and analysis service for a range of sample types, including potable water, groundwater, leachate from landfills and environmental samples.

Samples can also be delivered to the laboratory either directly by clients or courier services. Advice on the storage and transportation of samples can be provided upon request.


Where certain analysis cannot be undertaken at our laboratory we can manage the outsourcing of this work. Such outsourcing is managed entirely by the Laboratory, from identifying a suitable laboratory through to data quality, turnaround times and the reporting of results.

Laboratory staff provide a written quotation and ensure that all analyses are performed to the appropriate detection limits and required time-frames before issuing a confidentiality-assured final report.

We review our performance on engagements regularly to help us monitor and improve our service to our customers.

Quality assurance

The Laboratory is accredited by NATA (12902) for technical competence in Chemical (14262) and Biological (12895) testing in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025. The laboratory employs a comprehensive quality control program covering all facets of sample preparation, analysis and reporting. The quality control programs are a significant component of our work and underpin the quality of results issued to clients.

Management system

The Laboratory's computerised system (LIMS) coordinates all sampling, validates results, monitors quality control, tracks turnaround times, and produces sample reports.

National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA)

MidCoast Water Services Laboratory is accredited by NATA.

For more information about the National Association of Testing Authorities click here 

Contact us

Our Laboratory is located at 299 Bootawa Dam Road, Bootawa. The postal address is PO Box 671 Taree NSW 2430.

We can be contacted on 1300 133 455.