Water supply & quality

View the weekly water update (updated every Tuesday).

Our commitment to our customers

Kempsey Shire Council’s Water Services Charter lists the water and sewerage services we provide, our commitments to you and your responsibilities. It is one way we can demonstrate our aim of providing the best customer service in the water industry.

The charter lists the performance standards we work to in delivering water and sewerage services. These standards have been set in consultation with customer representatives.

The charter may also help you if you need advice or wish to contact Kempsey Shire Council about a water or sewerage matter.

Water Services Charter

We provide a high level of service to our customers by:

  1. involving you, our customers, through the Customer Consultative Committee in the management of each water supply and sewerage scheme
  2. aiming to meet or exceed service targets that have been set in consultation with the Customer Consultative Committee, and publicly reporting annually on our performance in achieving these targets
  3. providing you with information on your account details, water use and future water availability to support your business
  4. working with you, or through your Customer Consultative Committee, to schedule planned maintenance at a time that suits most customers
  5. respecting your privacy by treating any personal information in the strictest confidence and not giving any information about you to any other organisation or person without your consent, unless we are required to by law
  6. ensuring that any concerns or complaints you have about our service are handled promptly and efficiently
  7. working with you to help you select the services and products that best meet your business needs
  8. being available 24 hours a day to rectify critical supply problems and respond to emergency situations
  9. being courteous and helpful in providing our services.

Customer Consultative Committee

Council’s Customer Consultative Committee for water services was established to obtain customer input into the Water Services planning and decision-making process. The committee helps us respond effectively to the changing needs and concerns of our customers.

Members are drawn from a variety of backgrounds, including the residential, social, welfare, business and rural sectors. 

The Customer Consultative Committee provides a direct link between Kempsey Shire Council and its customers, ensuring that we:

  • remain responsive to customer needs
  • can understand issues and possible solutions from the perspective of interest groups
  • involve the community in projects from the beginning, ensuring all views are considered in each project
  • access valuable community knowledge
  • receive feedback about our customer service performance
  • are advised about new or modified customer service requirements.

Our service targets

1. Water quality

We aim to supply you with water that is:

  • reliable and continuous
  • safe to drink, consistent with National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines
  • free from objectionable taste and odour.

If you have any concerns about water quality, please contact us.

2. Water flow rates

We will provide a water supply to meet your reasonable needs, with a minimum flow rate as shown in the table below:

Diameter of the water service pipe (mm) 20 25 32 40 50
Minimum flow rate (litres per minute) 20 35 60 90 160


Please note that:

  • single houses usually have a water service pipe of 20mm diameter
  • the flow rate for a 20mm water service pipe is measured at the tap at the water meter
  • otherwise, the flow rate is measured at the outlet of your property service pipe. For safety reasons, this should only be done by Council or a licensed plumber.

We may provide you with less than the minimum flow rate if:

  • there is a planned or unplanned interruption to your water supply
  • there is water shortage due to a drought, peak summer demand, or unavoidable cause.

We find that complaints about dirty water often occur when customers’ water pipes on their property have become old and rusted inside. Your plumber can help you in this situation.


3. Sewerage

We aim to supply you with a sewerage service which is reliable and continuous and is operated in an environmentally responsible manner, with minimal odours.

Sewer overflows

Where a sewer overflow occurs on your property because of a failure in our system, we will act to minimise the damage and inconvenience and clean up the affected area as quickly as possible. Please contact us and we will endeavour to help you further if you are not completely satisfied with the standard of the clean-up. 

Sewer blockages

If your sewer becomes blocked and the blockage is between the property boundary and the main, Council will clear the blockage free of charge, if there is an inspection opening near the property boundary.

Blockages which occur inside the property are your responsibility; you will have to pay the plumber’s costs.

Tenants may be able to claim this cost from their landlord under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

4. Liquid trade waste

We will accept liquid trade waste only when it is safe to do so and you have an agreement with us.

5. Continuous service

We will give you two working days’ notice of our intention to interrupt, postpone or limit water or sewerage services to your property for planned maintenance works. We will also advise you how long the service will be interrupted. 

Unplanned interruption

Council will ensure there are no more than five unplanned interruptions to your water supply and no more than three unplanned interruptions to your sewerage service in any year.

In the event of an emergency or an unplanned interruption to your water supply or sewerage service, we will try to contact you if access is required to your property to carry out repairs to the water main or sewer.

6. Our priorities

Kempsey Shire Council Water Services prioritises the response to water and sewerage systems failure that may occur from time to time.

For water supply services these are:

Priority 1
Response times: 1 hour (business hours) / 2 hours (after hours)

  • Pump station failure
  • Water Treatment Plant malfunction
  • Valve failure
  • Major main break
  • Failure of property connection

Priority 2
Response times: 2 hours (business hours) / 4 hours (after hours)

  • Minor main break
  • Leaking property connection
  • Telemetry failure
  • Partial valve failure

Priority 3
Response time: 1 working day

  • Leak from water main
  • Leak from hydrant
  • Partial failure of property connection

Priority 4
Response time: within 2 weeks

  • Minor problem or complaint which can be dealt with at a time convenient to customer and Council - for example, a minor leak in a water service

For sewerage services these are:

Priority 1
Response times: 1 hour (business hours) / 2 hours (after hours)

  • Break, collapse, blockage, overloading of system, failure of pumping station

Priority 2
Response times: 2 hours (business hours) / 4 hours (after hours)

  • Cracked pipe or partial blockage of the sewer

Priority 3
Response time: 1 working day

  • Sudden extra hydraulic load which backs up but then clears itself
  • Partial main blockage
  • Partial house service blockage
  • Broken junction connection

Priority 4
Response time: within 2 weeks

  • A minor problem or complaint which can be dealt with at a time convenient to customer and Council - for example, adjustments to manholes

Water testing

Our Water Services team has a comprehensive testing regime to ensure that water quality meets the required standards.

We use the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, which are based on drinking water guidelines developed by the World Health Organization. We also cooperate with NSW Health to manage water quality and take part in NSW Health’s sponsored drinking water verification monitoring program. 

As the water makes its way to your home, more than 437 samples are taken from 45 monitoring points around the Kempsey Shire. Testing is carried out regularly at:

  • water supply sources such as rivers
  • storage areas such as dams and reservoirs
  • customers’ garden taps.

To ensure these tests are accurate, the water samples are sent to NSW Health’s Forensic and Analytical Science Service laboratory for independent analysis and verification. This testing regime helps to build up a history of water quality and identify any problems in the system.

Tests are commonly conducted for E. coli, pH, temperature, colour, turbidity, fluoride, chlorine, aluminium, iron, manganese, disinfection by-products and hardness. 

Test types


This is a test to find out how acidic or alkaline the water is. Fluctuations in these levels can lead to corrosiveness, scale build-up on pipes and fixtures, and metallic or alkali tasting water. 

Total hardness (as CaCO3)

Hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone, chalk or gypsum, which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates, bicarbonates and sulphates. Hard water can prevent lathering of soap and form scale on pipes. A build-up of scale can restrict the flow of water in pipes and make the water visibly cloudy. 


This is a measure of the cloudiness or haziness of a water supply caused by micro particles such as silt and sediment, organic compounds and algae. High turbidity can cause increased costs for water treatment processing and degradation of aquatic life.


Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in water, typically at low concentrations. Fluoride is added to drinking water for improved dental health, as endorsed by the National Health and Medical Research Council and NSW Health.

Nutrients and metals

Nutrients are tested as these are a good indicator of pollution from fertilisers and sewerage. Mineral compounds such as metals can occur naturally in water or be present as a result of activities around the water source within the catchment. The corrosion of pipes may also leach metals into the water.

E. coli

E. coli bacteria are found in large numbers in the faeces of humans and warm-blooded animals. Known as ‘faecal coliforms’, they are an effective indicator of sewerage or animal waste pollution and the presence of other potentially harmful bacteria.

Drinking water quality test results – 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022

View a summary of water testing results(PDF, 314KB) undertaken at customers’ taps in 2020-21.

More information about water quality is available in: