‘Like drinking from a swimming pool’: question around Daylesford’s water quality

UNCERTAIN: Hilary and Martin Cummings can't drink their tap water as it is too heavily chlorinated. Photo: Brendan McCarthy
UNCERTAIN: Hilary and Martin Cummings can't drink their tap water as it is too heavily chlorinated. Photo: Brendan McCarthy

DAYLESFORD residents are being left with a bad taste in their mouths.

The potent taste and scent of chlorine is causing many to opt to buy a bottled supply instead of consuming water from the tap.

Hilary and Martin Cummings have been worried about the quality of their water for the past few years.

They recently had Central Highlands Water attend their property, flush out their system and take a sample. It helped for a short while, but the problem has since returned and is worse than ever. Their sample came back as being safe to consume.

“It’s like drinking straight from a swimming pool,” Ms Cummings said. “And it has always been like that. You can’t even make a coffee with it because it changes the taste.”

Their neighbour, Chris, has taken to installing a water filter on his tap and said that when he cleans out the filter he is disgusted by the sludge he finds in it.

Their water quality is not better or worse at a certain time of year, so said it could not be put down to a shortage of water in the catchment.

Central Highlands Water’s General Manager of Customer and Community, Jacqueline O’Neill, said the body regularly reviewed the town’s water security and tested water supply to ensure it meets water quality requirements including aesthetics like colour, taste and smell.

“Despite a dryer than normal January, Daylesford’s water security is in a healthy position with 65% current water storage levels,” Ms O’Neill said. “We follow several laws and guidelines, including the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003 and Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2005 and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines 2011.”

She said the aesthetics could change throughout the year, especially when there is high demand, while in the summer months, water travels faster through the pipes so some customers can receive water with higher residual chlorine.

Ms O’Neill said chlorine and chloramine destroy disease-causing bacteria and viruses, with the usual amount added to water supplies typically less than one milligram per litre.