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  • Brisbane Water Quality Analysis: Ensuring Safe Drinking Water

    July 30, 2022 9 min read

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    Every state is proud of its water quality, but how does Brisbane's water supply compare to the rest of the nation? We'll focus on Seqwater, South East Queensland Water, and Urban Utilities, the three primary players in Brisbane's tap water supply and distribution.

    WHERE DOES BRISBANE'S WATER COME FROM?

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    Seqwater alone provides South East Queensland with almost 150,000 ML of drinking water, making it the region's primary bulk water supplier. The 107 reservoirs house the 9,500 km of water mains utilised to convey this drinking water.

    Over 50,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools' worth of water is delivered to Brisbane's service area by Urban Utilities, a water utility company.

    According to Mike Foster of Seqwater, 50% of Brisbane's drinkable water comes from the Wivenhoe dam. The most water you can store in this dam is 1.165 million ML!

    In response to the devastating impacts of the Millennium drought, Seqwater built a water grid in the 2000s. It makes it possible to carry treated water to areas that use it most in times of crisis.

    The water grid's reserve water supply comes from the Gold Coast desalination facility. The facility can create 133 ML of water per day when operating at full capacity.

    Recycling water is also utilized if drought circumstances force dam levels to fall below 40%. When paired with recycled water from the Western Corridor Recycled Water Scheme, it provides more than a third of the region's water demands.

    Wivenhoe Dam’s water levels have not been that low after the Millennium drought that ended in 2009. As of August 1st, it was 41.8 percent occupied. The ABC reports that daily water use is currently between 20 and 25 litres per person, which is more than dam managers generally prefer. If the overall water levels of the region's dams drop to 50% less by September 2021, they might impose water restrictions.

    WHAT CAN YOU FIND FROM BRISBANE'S TAP WATER?

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    Problems are unavoidable even though 46 treatment facilities guarantee that Council Water supply is safe to consume before distribution to residences. The possibility that summer floods would have an impact on the availability of drinking water is one of the government's major worries.

    Following a flood in January that caused too much silt to be poured into Brisbane River, closing down Mt Crosby Water Treatment Plant and compromising the community water supply, Seqwater was forced to invest $1.63 million to upgrade pipelines from Gold Coast to Brisbane.

    Floods can entirely shut off the city's water supply and substantially reduce drinking water quality.

    Additionally, you must be concerned about more than simply the muddy floodwaters.

    You might not be aware of unseen threats to our local water supply.

    Even while treatment plants do extensive filtration, some chemicals and contaminants nevertheless manage to bypass it.

    WHAT'S LURKING IN YOUR WATER?

    Copper

    It can happen naturally in our water systems and normally poses no threat to your health.

    Copper slowly leaks into your tap water due to corrosion of piping and fixtures, which frequently happens. The frightening part is that you won't even be aware of it when it happens! However, consuming a lot of copper can increase your risk of illness and discomfort.

    Mercury and Arsenic

    These are leftovers from the coal industry and other industrial processes.

    After extended exposure, mercury compounds can result in kidney issues, cancer, and harm to the brain. Arsenic exposure for a long period increases your risk of developing cancer and cardiovascular problems.

    Pesticides

    Runoff can carry it to water reservoirs. Your raw tap water may contain residues of several pesticide chemicals, according to water analysis. These substances may impact your reproductive system, liver, and kidneys.

    Chlorine and fluoride are two more notably prevalent pollutants in tap water, in addition to the contaminants evading city water filtering.

    Chlorine

    It is added to kill bacteria, but when it comes into contact with organic material, it creates trihalomethanes, which are extremely dangerous to unborn children.

    Fluoride

    Fluoride is being poured into the water system in Brisbane. It is believed to aid in the prevention of tooth decay, but it may also be linked to bone disease, birth malformations, fluorosis, and a decrease in children's IQ.

    BRISBANE DRINKING WATER SOURCES

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    The water used for drinking in Brisbane comes from several reservoirs near those cities and the Gold Coast. Before being dispersed across the city and its surrounds, the town’s water is first processed at three water treatment plants: Mt. Crosby Eastbank, North Pine, and Mt. Crosby Westbank.

    The South East Queensland Water Grid was developed to boost water supply by offering the area more water sources that are both climate-dependent (dams and rainfall) and climate-resilient, managed more effectively with a strong conservation focus.

    This water grid consists of three regional retail organisations, Urban water utilities, All Connex, Unity Water, Seqwater, the bulk water supplier, and Linkwater, the bulk water transport authority.

    Before being sent to customers' faucets via Linkwater pipes and retail water authority, Seqwater-owned water treatment plants clean raw water from dams and aquifers to drinking water quality.

    25 South East dams and 14 groundwater aquifers and bore fields provide raw water for the region. Seqwater treats the water at 46 active water treatment plant facilities while preserving the water quality in the natural water supplies and protecting the drinking water catchments.

    Due to considerable opposition, recycled water is exclusively used for industrial reasons in South East Queensland. Recycled water was vigorously promoted following the 2007 drought. The $2.4 billion Western Corridor Recycled Water Project (WCRWP) was built between 2007 and 2010 to supplement Lake Wivenhoe, South East Queensland, drinking water supplies. Brisbane and a large portion of the nearby area get their drinking water primarily from this source.

    The WCRWP uses discharge from six wastewater treatment centers, which is further processed at three new facilities at Bundamba, Luggage Point, and Gibson Island.

    The concept of drinking this advanced-treated water has been postponed until storage supplies fall to below 40% of capacity. However, some of it is currently used for industrial purposes.

    IS BRISBANE'S WATER HARD OR SOFT?

    The names "soft water" and "hard water" refer to the mineral content of the water, specifically the calcium and magnesium carbonates.

    By looking at it, it can be difficult to determine if water is soft or hard, but you can feel it and observe evidence of it everywhere in your house, such as:

    • Stains on silver and glassware.
    • When clothing is taken out of the washing machine, it has mineral stains.
    • Buildup of scale on plumbing and appliances.

    Every city and state in Australia is unique. Hobart's water scarcely exceeds ten mg/L, while Sydney's water is deemed "soft" with a roughly 50 mg/L hardness rating. You may find some of the hardest water in Brisbane and Adelaide, which can reach almost 100 mg/L. State-by-state, the softest water is located in Victoria and Tasmania, whereas some of the hardest water is found in Western Australia and South Australia.

    People with eczema and psoriasis frequently prefer soft water because of its lower mineral content, resulting in silkier hair and skin for the family.

    Installing a household water filtration system along with a softener is your best option if the water in your neighbourhood is hard or soft.

    Brisbane Water Quality Analysis

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    Brisbane City Council keeps an eye on the rivers in Brisbane to ensure no unwanted health concerns are presented to the general population. Residents can choose where, when, and how to use the waterway informedly by accessing data and information on the water quality.

    The monitoring results show the threats to human health posed by microbial contamination in Brisbane's river, waterways, and bay. Every day, the degree of microbial contamination can change. Urban rivers frequently include microbial pollution, especially following significant rains.

    The council keeps an eye on the water quality at 11 locations in the Brisbane River and areas of Moreton Bay that see a lot of recreational activity. When necessary, warning signs are installed, and monitoring findings are shared publicly.

    Since 2011, monitoring has demonstrated a correlation between a trend for elevated enterococci findings and precipitation and stormwater runoff into our rivers. Based on this comprehension, Council has adjusted its monitoring programme at recreational locations in the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay to monthly during the warmer and bi-weekly during the colder winter.

    Cabbage Tree Creek and Oxley Creek's historical enterococci results have shown greater variability, so Council will continue implementing a more regular monitoring programme in these waterways. As always, Council advises limiting interaction with rivers after a significant downpour. The Healthy Waterways webpage details how to use our channels safely.

    Council is also conducting additional research in a few streams in Brisbane to identify the root reasons for changing microbial pollution.

    WHERE DOES THE WATER IN AUSTRALIA COME FROM?

    The world's driest inhabited continent is Australia. The country has the fewest rivers and the smallest region of permanent wetlands3, and 80 percent of it receives less than 600mm of rain annually2. Our beautiful country is mostly red, sweltering hot, and as dry as a bucket of sawdust.

    Surface Water

    Rivers, lakes, streams, and reservoirs contain surface water, as do other bodies of water found above ground. About 95 percent of Australia's water comes from these sources, with NSW using the most (3.5 million millilitres) and ACT using the least (46,625 millilitres), despite having some of the lowest river levels in the world. However, this does not take into account variations in population.

    Due to our reliance on limited surface water, infrastructure investments in desalination and recycling have been made. These investments will help us combat the growing drought brought on by climate change and meet demand.

    Rivers and Streams

    Even in the tropics, most Australian rivers and streams do not have running water, but we collect a lot of water from them. Most of Melbourne's water comes from the Central Highlands and Yarra Ranges forests, with streams and rivers flowing through them. The Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands drain into the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system and supply most of Sydney's drinking water.

    The Murray-Darling River basin contains Australia's largest river system and uses 50% of all the water used in Australia, receives about 75% of the water for agricultural purposes.

    Reservoirs

    It's the primary supply of municipal water in most of Australia. Since reservoirs depend on rainfall, they are unreliable during prolonged droughts, which forces local governments to take various conservation measures.

    A substantial amount of Adelaide's water comes from several reservoirs that flows through the Murray-Darling River basin. Between 10% and 20% of Perth's water flow from tanks close to the city. More or less 50% of Brisbane's water comes from the Wivenhoe Dam, located west of the town.

    Groundwater

    Water that is found underground in rock and soil is known as groundwater. This source provides about 4% of Australia's water, with Perth and Adelaide using most of it. In Perth, groundwater supplies make up about 40% of total supplies, with the majority coming from the Gnangara groundwater system, which supplies water to a sizable portion of Perth and the territory to its north. In Adelaide, aquifers around the Murray-Darling River Basin are used to provide groundwater, making up 41% of the city's water supply.

    Other large cities in Australia rely on groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin in Queensland, the Otway Basin in South Australia, and the Daly Basin in the Northern Territory. However, rivers, streams, and reservoirs provide the majority of the water for these cities.

    Compared to water from rivers and reservoirs, groundwater is more sluggish and more likely to carry dangerous germs. Therefore, additional treatment is required to make groundwater suitable for human consumption. Australia has over 268 water treatment facilities that treat groundwater, wastewater, seawater, and other types of water with an annual capacity of about 50 megaliters1 (almost 300,000 bathtubs' worth of water).

    Wastewater

    Australia is one of the world's top water consumers and the driest continent. Therefore recycling is an important component of its water policy. It includes recycling the grey and black wastewater produced by sinks, tubs, and showers. You must send other water-using appliances to one of Australia's numerous wastewater treatment facilities for processing.

    With the addition of recycled wastewater back into their reservoirs, Brisbane and Adelaide are at the forefront of the wastewater recycling movement. The Western Australia Water Corporation is also building a sizable wastewater recycling facility in Perth to supply western Australians with a significant volume of recycled water.

    Seawater

    Oceans constitute nearly 70% of our world, making them a plentiful source of water for Australians—provided we can get the salt out of them. Fortunately, there are sizable desalination facilities in Perth, Adelaide, Binningup (WA), Dalyston (Victoria), Sydney, and the Gold Coast that can purify seawater to make it drinkable by removing bacteria, salt, and pollution.

    Due to the diminishing availability of traditional water sources, the two facilities in Western Australia as well as the facility in Adelaide are especially significant. Perth's two desalination plants provide over 40% of the city's total water supply, assisting in defending Perth against severe droughts, which are growing more frequently due to climate change.

    Future water supplies in Australia are expected to rely heavily on seawater and desalination facilities.

    BUY A WATER FILTER TO KEEP YOUR WATER IN BRISBANE SAFE TO DRINK

    You may be completely cut off from tap water due to flooding and hidden toxins, but you don't have to stop using it altogether. To ensure that you are drinking pure water free of any unneeded and potentially harmful pollutants, install water filters in your home.

    Awesome Water Filters offers different water filters to help you keep your water in Brisbane free from contaminants. It helps guarantee safe drinking water for you and your family.