Earlier in the month, we published our guide to cloudy tap water, but other issues can affect the quality of your drinking water as well. Any good North Ringwood plumber knows that several external elements can affect our tap water – some of which are out of our control. Today’s guide has been constructed to keep you in the loop about these possibilities.

Acid sulphate soils

Because metal sulphides are naturally occurring chemical compounds, it is not uncommon for them to appear in soil. These are generally known as acid sulphate soils. These are harmless until they’re exposed to the air. It is at this point that heavy metals and other contaminants are released into waterways and wetlands.

This results in a reduction of pH and dissolved oxygen levels. Acid sulphate soils can also poison plants around water sources – as well as killing fish and other aquatic plants and animals. The biggest way in which this affects our water quality though is through groundwater contamination. It’s worth noting that the majority (83%) of Victoria’s groundwater is used for irrigation and commercial purposes.


Blackwater events

A blackwater event is when flooding washes organic material into waterways. Once in the waterways, the organic material is consumed by bacteria which leads to higher levels of dissolved carbon in the water. The water takes on a black colour thanks to the dissolved carbon compounds – giving it its name.

Blackwater is responsible for the death of aquatic life due to the toxicity of some organic matter and low levels of dissolved oxygen. The toxicity of the organic matter can make water sources more alkaline or acidic – disrupting the pH levels. Direct contact and consumption of blackwater should be avoided.

An interesting fact about blackwater, though, is that it actually has long-term benefits. The blackwater process is essential to the cycle of the water sources life as it boosts food supplies overall.



It’s no secret that Victoria has lush bushland. Because of this, we are prone to bushfires. Drinking water – as well as aquatic ecosystems and water used for agricultural activities – can be drastically affected by bushfires. The reason for this is that when soil’s structure has been altered and vegetation cover has been lost, the risk of runoff increases.

Surface sediment and pollutants running off to waterways can negatively impact them. This creates health risks as it tampers with drinking water. Another downside of runoff caused by bushfires is that nutrients, metals and other toxicants will release into the soil – as a result of the chemical reaction of the fire.



Cyanobacteria predominantly live in freshwater, coastal and marine waters. They are a microscopic, algae-like bacteria with a typically blue-green appearance. Cyanobacteria only becomes an issue when they increase to excessive levels. When this occurs, the water quality degrades significantly, and toxicity levels have the potential to rise.

This can affect drinking water supplies, recreational activities and water-dependent industries. It also poses a potential risk to human and wildlife – as well as livestock. Because cyanobacteria photosynthesise – similarly to plants – they can reproduce rapidly under favourable conditions such as rich sunlight and still/slow-flowing water.


Urban catchments

Due to the larger volumes of runoff that urban environments produce, urban water catchments are established. Catchments are natural areas that collect water. Melbourne has very efficient urban water catchments that require very little treatment. Some of Melbourne’s catchments include:

  • 56,300 hectares of state forest;
  • 90,800 hectares of national park;
  • 7,500 hectares of Melbourne Water land; and
  • 2,100 hectares of private land.


Because urban streams carry high levels of nutrients, heavy metals and sediment – it can mix with stormwater to produce high biological oxygen demand and low dissolved oxygen levels. These rapid changes in water quality can affect coastal waters, estuaries, rivers, wetlands and other aquatic environments. Human and animal access to catchments is also restricted to avoid any unwanted contamination.


Do you need a plumber in Ringwood?

If you’re looking for a plumber in North Ringwood, then look no further than JPG Plumbing. We use only the most professional and well-trained contractors to carry out the myriad of services that we offer. Our service areas include Ringwood and the rest of Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, our experienced contractors are efficient and friendly.

If you think your drinking water is poor quality, then give a Ringwood plumber a call on 0400 978 442. You can also contact us through the enquiry form on our website.