Streamwatch: Drinking water

Access to clean drinking water is important for everyone.

Green Home Guide: Save water

Carl Bento © Australian Museum

What is drinking water?

Drinking water or potable water is water of high quality that can be consumed or used without risk of immediate or long-term harm. In Australia, households, businesses and industry receive drinking water but only a small proportion of this is actually consumed or used in food preparation. The greater proportion is used for flushing toilets, laundry, watering gardens and washing cars. Some households, businesses, and industry receive recycled water for nondrinking purposes. The water is carried in separate colour-coded pipes and taps to identify whether it is drinking water or recycled water.

Over large parts of the world, many people have inadequate access to potable water and have to use water contaminated with waterborne diseases or unacceptable levels of dissolved chemicals or suspended solids. Drinking
or using contaminated water in food preparation leads to widespread acute and chronic illnesses and is a major cause of death in many countries.  Providing clean water is a major public health goal in developing countries.

Drinking water is tested at every stage of the process in the catchment, before and after treatment, within the distribution pipes, and at customers’ taps.
 

Why does water need to be treated before we drink it?

Untreated water may carry microorganisms that cause disease. Untreated or poorly treated drinking water and a
lack of testing in catchments and water sources have resulted in serious health problems in many countries.

Protecting catchments and storage dams, treating raw water at water filtration plants, and regularly monitoring water quality helps us to ensure that drinking water is clean, healthy and safe.


Greg McDonald , Education Project Officer - Streamwatch
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