The water we distribute across South East Queensland may have a slightly different taste or odour depending on which catchment it is sourced from. Each catchment in our region has different characteristics and taste profiles. 

Our drinking water supply is constantly monitored and tested to ensure it meets the health requirements of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

Below is a list of typical taste descriptions and what they may mean for your water quality.


Taste Description Possible cause
Chlorine / pool water

In South East Queensland, chlorine is added to the water to protect customers from any potential contamination.  

You may be able to smell or taste the chlorine in the water when the amount of chlorine added is changed for various operational reasons. If you live near one of the dosing facilities you may notice changes in the chlorine levels in the water.

We monitor chlorine throughout the network with online monitoring, laboratory and field testing. Chlorine levels are assessed against criteria described in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011, published by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. These guidelines have determined the level at which chlorine is safe in drinking water.

Chlorine will dissolve from drinking water if you allow it to stand for a few hours in a glass. Aerators on taps and some types of in-line commercially available filters can help reduce the amount of chlorine in drinking water. If you are still concerned with chlorine at your property, or are seeking more information, please call us on 13 26 57 (8am-6pm weekdays).

Musty or earthy

Naturally occurring organic compounds called Geosmin and Methylisoborneol, which is better known as MIB, in the raw water supply can cause an earthy taste and/or odour in tap water.

Geosmin and MIB are compounds produced from algae or bacteria in our catchments and are responsible for that ‘rain smell’ and can also make our water taste and smell earthy, musty or swampy.

While these compounds may lead to a temporary change in taste and/or odour in water, they are not harmful.

These compounds can increase following particularly hot and rainy weather conditions. 

Sensitivity to taste varies from person to person, so some people may not notice any change while others may.

Cooling the water can help reduce any earthy taste in the tap water. Adding wedges of citrus fruit, mint or cucumber may also help reduce the earthy taste.

Petrol or solvents
A potential cause of this smell is spilled chemicals permeating into your plumbing through ‘plastic’ pipes. If you, or people working around your property have spilled any petroleum-based products around your property (petrol, oil, turps, methylated spirits and some pesticides) these can leach through your plastic pipes.

If you believe that this has occurred on your property, check with your neighbours to confirm whether they are experiencing a similar taste or odour to their water.

If the taste or odour is isolated to your property then you will need to contact a licensed plumber to assist you in resolving the issue.  If necessary, we can assist you with tests to confirm the source of contamination. Please contact us to find out how we can help.

If you are concerned about the taste or smell of your water, contact us on 13 26 57 (8am-6pm weekdays) or 13 23 64 (24/7).