Taste & smell

Sometimes you may notice a change in the taste or smell of your drinking water. Find out the common causes and what you can do to help.

Warm water coming from your cold water tap could be because the pipework is in the sun and the water has warmed up. Also, in Perth, some of our water comes from artesian aquifers, which are naturally hot. Warm tap water is safe to drink. The sun can heat water passing through above-ground pipelines. This is more common in country schemes where the water has to travel long distances.

What to do

Run the tap for 30 seconds or until the water runs cold. Collect this water and use it to water your garden or pot plants.

The reaction of natural organic compounds with chlorine causes this. We add chlorine to all water supply sources to prevent contamination. 

What to do

To remove the taste you can add freshly squeezed lemon juice to the water, allow water to stand in the sunlight in a covered container for 2 hours, and/or chill the water.

The smell is caused by trace levels of Dimethyl Trisulphise (DMTS), a natural occurring compound, which forms in the reticulation system within Perth’s Groundwater scheme. DMTS occurs naturally in vegetables, such as garlic and cabbage.

What to do

Run an internal tap for 30 seconds to flush stagnant water from the pipework. Be sure to collect this water and use it to water your garden or pot plants.

Householder plastic pipes laid underground can absorb a petroleum-based hydrocarbon product if spilt or sprayed on the ground within the vicinity of the pipes. This will result in increasingly strong petrol or kerosene taste and smell within the internal household water supply.

What to do

If you notice this smell please call our 24-hour Faults, Emergencies and Security line on 13 13 75.

The reaction of natural organic compounds with chlorine when the water is boiled, or in new houses that have plastic pipes may cause a plastic taste.   

What to do

If your water has a plastic taste after boiling try using a stainless steel kettle, use fresh water each time you boil the kettle, allow water to stand in the sunlight in a covered glass container for 2 hours, and/or add freshly squeezed lemon juice before boiling.

If you are in a new house with plastic pipes, run the tap for 30 seconds to flush water from the pipework. Be sure to collect this water and use it to water your garden or pot plants.

This taste can be caused by a natural-forming, black scale on the inside of kettles or urns. It can form if the kettle is filled with water from a hot water system or the urn is not emptied daily and filled with fresh water.

What to do

To remove the taste mix a heaped teaspoon of citric acid or a tablespoon of vinegar with water, place in the kettle or urn and allow it to boil for three minutes. Rinse the kettle or urn three times with fresh water before use.

This is usually caused by corrosion of household copper plumbing and occasionally from copper pipes within our water supply system. This can lead to blue-green staining on sinks and showers and metallic tasting water.

What to do

Use a lemon based cleaning product which contains citric acid or cloudy ammonia.

If your water tastes unusual, run an internal tap for 30 seconds to flush stagnant water from the pipework. Be sure to collect this water and use it to water your garden or pot plants.

Chloramination is a disinfection process which involves the addition of chlorine and ammonia. These 2 agents react to form chloramines which are effective disinfecting agents and persist in the water supply system for a long period. 

Water supplied to the Goldfields and Agricultural Supply Scheme from Mundaring Reservoir is disinfected with chloramination. This helps to preserve a high quality water supply over the long distance.

Possible consequences

Chloramines are toxic to fish so can lead to problems for owners of fish ponds and aquariums.

What to do

Find out the chloramine and ammonia levels in your tap by contacting us on 13 13 75.

A pipe illegally joined to the drinking water supply is called a cross connection. It can potentially result in water being contaminated and unsuitable for use. An example of this could be a cross connection between a garden bore and a property's internal plumbing.

Possible consequences

A cross connection could cause a change of a taste, odour or appearance of your water.

What to do

While in most cases this will not be immediately harmful, we recommend that you do not use the water and notify us on 13 13 75.