Causes of a Cloudy or Dirty tap water supply

Nothing could be less appealing than bath water tinged slightly brown, or a long, tall glass of cloudy tap water on a hot day. If you’re experiencing some issues with your tap water quality, several things might be responsible: pipe corrosion, manganese, chemical permeation, scaling, major weather changes, or recent pipe repair works.

While its appearance can be alarming, discolouration or cloudiness in tap water is very rarely a serious health concern. Before calling a plumber, try running the tap for a few minutes to see if the discoloration disappears on its own. Some of the most common causes of cloudy or discoloured water include:
Brown tap water
More often than not, brown tinged water is the result of manganese, a natural element that collects on the sides of your pipes. Sometimes, manganese comes loose and causes discolouration and staining. Although it’s not attractive, the presence of manganese in your water supply will not cause illness as long as the level remains below 0.5ml per litre.
Cloudy water
A cloudy or milky white appearance in your water could follow recent pipe repairs. It is most commonly a collection of carbon dioxide bubbles, and it will generally clear quickly.
Blue stained tap water
The presence of a blue or green stain in your tap water indicates the presence of copper pipe corrosion. You might also notice a metallic taste, and you should avoid using the water for drinking or preparing food. Try flushing out your taps for a few minutes to remove the excess copper corrosion.
Chemical permeation
If you’ve recently used garden chemicals or other toxic liquids, and you’ve disposed of them near a water service line, you might experience some chemical permeation, particularly if the water line pipes are made of polyethylene. If you notice a strong odour or unpleasant taste to your water after having disposed of chemicals, don’t drink or use the water to prepare food without first contacting a plumber.
Blue-green algae
In the warmer months of the year, or after significant rainfall, the presence of blue-green algae can cause surface water to be unsuitable for human consumption or bathing. Water authorities treat blue-green algae with a combination of methods such as chlorination, filtration, activated carbon, or flocculation.

If you’re concerned about the quality of your tap water after several cycles of flushing, call Sydney Emergency Plumbing on 1800 862 565 to arrange a pipe inspection.