As suppliers of bulk drinking water we have often been asked can using surface water for drinking water be an alternative to rainwater. The simple answer is yes. It can be a very affordable alternative to supplement your rain water supply. But the treatment design and setup must be performed to exacting standards.

These raw water sources may be more easily contaminated by animal and human wastes and chemicals from runoff. Surface water may also be at risk of algal blooms. Due to the potential for contamination, surface water should not be used as a source of drinking water unless filtered and disinfected. It’s not only the above contaminants that affect the water, Tannins (discoloured water), and water hardness may also be an issue with this raw water source.

Dam and creek water is not recommended to be used as a sole drinking water source because of its inherent variable quality and quantity. But as we’ve seen in the recent past, if the lack of rainfall in the area persists, consideration could be given to its usage. Particularly to those in outlining areas where the cost of buying water in is expensive.


What’s Involved

Before we can consider using surface water for drinking water the raw the water must be tested. Bundaberg Water has invested in testing analysis equipment enabling us to undertake water testing on site. Measuring 9 parameters including Conductivity, Resistivity, TDS, Alkalinity, Hardness, LSI, pH, ORP/Free Chlorine and Temperature plus a separate instrument from Hanna measuring Iron content. This gives us the advantage of discussing with you, at your home or workplace, the relevant options we will consider in the design of your water treatment process.

Once your system is installed and operational we will get a NATA laboratory to undertake a full water and bacterial analysis to ensure all is operating as it should be.


The design of the treatment process for household and small commercial usage will generally consist of filter cartridge systems for the reduction of sediments, chemical, odour and taste improvement. Although it’s possible to get away without using disinfection for rainwater we use UV, ozone, AQ Silver Ionisation or Quantum Disinfection when using surface water for drinking water. Which one depends on the final water clarity, or expected clarity after filtration. Additionally, consideration is also given to water storage tank configuration.

Sizing and number of the sediment filters will be dependent on the sediment loading in the water. The general consensus within the filtration service industry (as opposed to the on-line sales industry) is the more the better. However this naturally comes at a cost, so a balance has to be met. We usually recommend 3 sediment filters. The final one being 1 micron absolute for cyst and bacteria removal. The first two are dependent on the sediment load. Bundaberg Water always includes a visit about 4 weeks after installation to check the system and undertake any tweaks to cartridge sizing if required.

The final cartridge filter we use is a carbon filter. The micron sizing of the filter is a factor of the size of the sediment filters. The composition of the filter, coal carbon, coconut or wood carbon is determined by the contaminates. These include chemicals, odour, taste and also tannin removal. The physical size of the filter is determined by the loading of the contaminate. The greater the loading, the greater the contact time the water requires within the filter. These filters come in poly wound, pleated or bag type.

The Pit Falls of Buying Online

We don’t mind if people wish to buy from online e-commerce sites. But you do need to understand what the possible pitfalls are. Online stores sell to the most common denominator, on-size fits all water filter systems. You generally don’t get one designed to suit your current or expected raw water quality.

A case we came across recently was where a bulk water customer purchased a filter system on-line. It worked while his creek ran with very clear water. However when things started drying up and the creek stopped running and his water hole became loaded with tannins. The system he purchased could not cope with the extra tannins. The water-stained clothes tasted awful and the UV disinfection system didn’t work. UV requires exceptionally clear water to work efficiently.

Our Guarantee to You

At Bundaberg Water we design, assemble and install water treatment and filtration systems to your individual circumstance. We inspect the water and the surrounding area and test what the raw water quality is now, design it for now, or for some issue we can envisage may occur in the future. We also inform you of what additional costs may arise if these future issues do eventuate.

We are always looking for new reliable, high-performance water treatment and filtration systems. One such system we are currently looking at is the Quantum Disinfection system. You can check it out here. And you won’t find it for sale at any Australian online store.

Generally, we don’t buy from the large wholesale distributors who sell to the online stores. We purchase from small specialists like ourselves who have gone out to find the best available equipment. And surprisingly we can offer it at about the same cost as you can buy the online products. Additionally, we are not in the business making a fortune out of supplying you replacement filters or UV tubes.

Being local, we understand local issues and we will work with you for the longterm, providing healthy, safe drinking water for you, your family or your workplace.

Give us a call to arrange a visit so we can discuss your opportunities for using your surface water for drinking water.