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Where does our drinking water actually come from?

Where does our drinking water actually come from?

Australians have one of the biggest water footprints in the world, with each person using 1,156 gallons per day on average. We take the colorless, odorless liquid for granted, but it’s a remarkable substance. It composes 60 percent of our bodies and it makes the basic molecules of life, including DNA, cell membranes, and proteins, work.

More than 2 billion people around the world lack access to clean drinking water. Within Australia, some remote communities do not have adequate drinking water standards in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6). Australia is investing in the WASH initiative, to provide universal access to clean water. Dirty water has been found to cause a wide range of health issues including cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio as well as a wide range of other water problems.


Where does tap water come from in Australia?

Freshwater supplies can come from either surface water or ground water sources.

1. Surface water

Surface water sources supply the majority of public water systems and come from rain or snow which accumulates in rivers, streams and lakes. These water sources can then be pumped into water treatment centers and subsequently into our homes and businesses.

2. Groundwater

Groundwater supplies over 30% of public water systems. Groundwater sources come from rain and snow which seeps into the ground and is stored in natural aquifers such as coastal aquifers before being funnelled into wells and springs. These sources can be accessed from natural springs or through wells.

3. Seawater

Many Australian cities also gather drinking water from the sea through a process called desalination which removes the salt from sea water making it safe to drink. This helps protect water supplies from droughts which can cause surface and groundwater levels to dwindle.


How is drinking water treated?

Australian drinking water goes through a purification stage process to ensure that it is safe to drink by the time is reaches our homes and businesses, the different steps of this process eliminate bacteria, sediment and other harmful impurities which could be harmful. There are four main steps to water treatment:

1. Coagulation and Flocculation

This uses chemicals that bind with other waterborne compounds to form larger particles, which creates a solid mass called floc.

2. Sedimentation

As floc is denser than water, it drifts to the bottom of the water treatment tank during a sedimentation process, settling in a removable layer.

3. Filtration

Once the suspended floc has been removed, the residual clear water is passed through sand, gravel, or charcoal filters that take out dissolved particles, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and toxic chemicals.

4. Disinfection

The final water treatment stage is disinfection with chlorine. This process not only removes remaining pathogens but keeps the water supply clean as it passes through the pipeline.

Despite the care taken to ensure water is clean when it leaves the processing plant, water can pick up impurities as it travels through the pipes to your home or business. To ensure clean and safe water, consider a water dispenser for your home or office.

How is water distributed to our homes?

Water is transported from local treatment plants to be stored in a tower or tank. This gravity fed system creates water pressure which moves the water through the system of pipes and into our homes.

Common materials for pipes in water systems include steel, iron, cement, copper and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Lead water pipes are still in use but add dangerous chemicals to the water supply and so are being replaced across the country.


Our drinking water in Australia comes from 3 different sources including groundwater sources, surface water sources and sea water. It is crucial that water is properly processed before consumption as dirty water can lead to a wide range of health complaints.

Even if water is processed properly, it can become contaminated as it travels through pipes and way need purifying with a water dispenser once it reaches your home to ensure you get great tasting and safe drinking water.