Water quality

Water quality

Water quality is checked at every stage on its journey to your taps. At the treatment works it is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to ensure that the water is safe to use.

Do you have discoloured water? Want to know more about water hardness? Get all the information on your water quality here.

Is your water black, orange or brown?

The most common cause of discoloured, dark water is a disturbance in the water pipes. Repair works or burst mains can cause harmless deposits to come loose from the pipework, entering the water supply.

What do I do if I have discoloured water?

Discoloured water will normally clear if you run the first mains-fed tap in your property. This is the cold water tap nearest to your internal stop tap which is usually the cold water tap found in the kitchen. You should run this tap at the normal rate for up to 40 minutes or until clear.

You can also check In Your Area to find out if there are any works going on that could have caused the discolouration.

Don′t use your water-reliant appliances, or your hot water supply, until your cold water runs clear.

Is your water cloudy?

Drinking water can sometimes appear ‘milky’ or ‘cloudy’ when first drawn from the tap. This is usually caused by air and disappears after a short time.

The picture below shows the appearance of water improving as the air bubbles rise to the top. This is a great way to check the cloudy appearance of your water is caused by air.

Cloudy water caused by air bubbles is not harmful to health.


Water hardness

"Hard water" is water with a higher concentration of natural minerals. The minerals come from the ground and rocks near or in the water source.

If your water comes from a source near limestone or chalk rocks, or contains groundwater, it is likely your water is hard.

What does that mean for me?

If you have hard water, you might notice white scale build up in your appliances and taps. It isn′t harmful, but we understand it can be a nuisance.

You can reduce the water hardness by using a softener. A softener device substitutes calcium and magnesium with sodium. Please note, softeners are not recommended to be used in cooking and drinking, especially for infants and people on sodium-restricted diets.

Blended water

We supply some areas with blended water, which is water from more than one source. This means blended water can be hard at times.

We treat our water from all sources to the same high standard, however you may notice a change in taste or smell. This is normal, and can often be improved by chilling your water in the fridge for an hour or so.

Is fluoride added to the water supply?

Around 40% of the water supplied in the North East has fluoride added. This is under a scheme with local authorities and Public Health England, to help prevent tooth decay.

A general list of areas where fluoride is added includes:

  • Alnwick
  • Chester le Street
  • Consett
  • Cramlington
  • Durham
  • Gateshead
  • Hexham
  • Newcastle
  • Stanley

This list is indicative only. If you want more information on the water we supply to your home, visit our In Your Area page and type your postcode into the box.

For more information on fluoridation, see the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) website.

Downloadable content

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    Water quality

    Water quality is checked at every stage on its journey to your taps. At the treatment works it is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to ensure that the water is always safe to drink.


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    What′s in your tap water

    In addition to H20, your water contains a number of substances. Most of these are perfectly harmless and that water would taste foul if they weren′t there (try tasting distilled water if you′re not convinced!). Others are safe in the minute concentrations found in tap water.


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    Water hardness

    Northumbrian Water is responsible for supplying a reliable source of safe, clean, drinking water. The majority of the company supply area is soft to slightly hard.


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    Testing your water quality

    Find out more regarding the testing of your water quality.


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    Slimy bits, mould and stains

    Staining, slime and mould do not come from the water supply. They are caused by airborne mould spores that like to grow in warm, damp places such as bathrooms and kitchens.


Taste and smells

tap water  

We work hard to provide clean, clear and great tasting water. If you think your water tastes or smells strange, take a look at the advice we've set out via the link below. Find out more


Follow us on our Twitter customer care account - helping with any customer service queries.

Community portal

family on beach  

Our community portal is your voice in the work we do to improve your water and sewage services. Find out more

Keeping you informed by text


You can now be informed by text message about water supply events happening in your area. Please make sure your customer contact details are up to date by telephoning us on 0345 717 1100 or by Twitter @nwater_care or via the online link below. Contact us online

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