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.

Is your water milky / cloudy?

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

There is a really simple way to check whether milky white water is due to the release of dissolved air. Fill a clean glass with tap water and place it on the worktop. You will notice that the water clears from the bottom of the glass as the bubbles rise slowly to the surface. The effect can be seen in the photograph below.

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

Is your water brown/black or orange?

The main cause of discolouration is due to the disturbance of harmless deposits accumulated over time in the water pipes making the water brown/black or orange in appearance.

One of the main causes of discolouration could be a burst main - click on In your area for any further information relating to events in your area.

What do I do if I have discoloured water?

Discoloured water will normally run 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.

Can I use my washing machine / dish washer / hot water supply whilst the water is discoloured?

We recommend that you do not use any of these facilities until your water supply is running clear.

My washing is stained what do I do?

To remove any staining please check that the cold water tap nearest to your internal stop tap (usually your cold water kitchen/utility tap) is running clear and rewash your laundry as normal.

Water hardness

To find out how water hardness affects your appliances and how hard the water is in your area view the water hardness leaflet below.

Water quality

The quality of your water is checked at every stage on its journey to your tap.  Each year over 200,000 tests are carried out on your behalf by the Drinking Water Inspectorate and our pass rate is currently 99.9 per cent.

Water pressure

The water pressure in your area is constantly monitored and should be enough to fill a ten litre bucket in one minute. Further information can be found in the leaflet below.  

Is fluoride added?

Around 40% of the water we supply in the north east of England is fluoridated. The fluoridated areas include parts of Northumberland, Tynedale, Tyneside and north west Durham. Fluoridation began in these areas in the early 1970s and continues under a legal arrangement with the Strategic Health Authority. All of the costs associated with fluoridation are met by the Strategic Health Authority.

The main towns that receive fluoridated water include; Alnwick, Chester le Street, Consett, Cramlington, some of Durham, Gateshead, Hexham, Newcastle and Stanley, this list is indicative and not comprehensive. If you would like to understand more about the water supply where you live, please use the In your area function on our website, this will provide you with a water quality report which includes the fluoride level in your area.

For more information on fluoride please see the Dentistry area of the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) website and the consumer area of 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.


Community portal

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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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