Water Quality

With the start of summer it is common for Council to receive calls concerning the change to the taste, odour and clarity of reticulated (tap) water. Some common water issues are caused by naturally occurring algae in waterways that multiply in warmer weather when river flows are low. Although not ideal, any slight taste, odour or murkiness issues in your tap water are not harmful.

Ruapehu District Council is not alone with this problem. Some links to other District Council sites are provided at the bottom of this page.

Problem: Yellow to rusty brown water, stains on washing, small particles in the water or stale taste.
Cause: Rusting iron pipes at home or sediment in the water supply
Solution: Turn a tap on full for a couple of minutes. If the water turns clear, the brown colour is probably due to rusting iron pipes at home. The pipes may need to be replaced with plastic or copper pipes.

If the water does not clear or still tastes stale after turning the tap on full, the problem is not in your pipes. Small particles settle at some places in the water system. Dirty water results if this sediment is disturbed in some way. Contact Council and we will arrange to have the supply mains cleaned and flushed.

Problem: ​White, cloudy or milky water.
Cause: ​Air in the water.  
Solution: ​If you hold up a glass up to the light, there will be tiny bubbles moving up from the bottom of the glass. This is not harmful. Leave some water standing in a clear glass and the white colour should disappear after a short time.

​Problem: Bad taste or odour.
Cause: Growth of plants and algae in the river. The purification process removes most of the natural odour and is rarely detected in cold water, although may be noticeable in warmer water. 
Solution: ​Try keeping a jug of fresh, cold, tap water in the refrigerator for drinking and cooking. Carbon filters can also be used to remove taste/odour, but must be carefully maintained.

​Problem: Swampy or sulphur odour
Cause: Decaying hair, dirt or debris caught in drain.
Solution: To confirm this, fill a glass with cold water and take it immediately to another room in the house.  If the water is odourless, the odour is coming from your drain.  To correct the problem, pour a small amount of bleach down the drain.  Wait a few minutes then run your cold water tap for a minute to flush the drain.

​​Problem: Green or blue water, green stains on plumbing.
Cause: Corroding copper pipes at home.
Solution: Replace old copper pipes.

Problem: ​​Metallic taste or smell
​Cause: Corroding pipes or fitting (plumbosolvency)
Solution: ​Plumbosolvency is when minute traces of the metals in your pipework and fittings leach into the water when it is not being used. Turn a tap on full for a couple of minutes to flush the pipework.


If you are still concerned about the quality of your water, please contact Council.

Page reviewed: 25 Jan 2016 3:46pm