2000-2016? – Coleambally (NSW). E.coli, Iron

2000-2016: Coleambally (NSW): E.coli, Iron

Treated water turbidity exceeded the ADWG target for chlorine disinfection of <1 NTU in 33% of samples. Total coliforms were also detected on a number of occasions. Free and total chlorine results were consistently above the ADWG aesthetic limit of 0.6 mg/L, but it was noted that adequate disinfection is considered higher priority than aesthetic acceptability. Occasional exceedances were also recorded for E. coli and iron.(Murrumbidgee Council Drinking Water Management Strategy 2016)

“Coliforms are Gram-negative, non-spore-forming, rod-shaped bacteria that are capable of aerobic and facultative anaerobic growth in the presence of bile salts or other surface active agents with similar growth-inhibiting properties. They are found in large numbers in the faeces of humans and other warm-blooded animals, but many species also occur in the environment.

Thermotolerant coliforms are a sub-group of coliforms that are able to grow at 44.5 ± 0.2°C. E. coli is the most common thermotolerant coliform present in faeces and is regarded as the most specific indicator of recent faecal contamination because generally it is not capable of growth in the environment. In contrast, some other thermotolerant coliforms (including strains of Klebsiella, Citrobacter and Enterobacter) are able to grow in the environment and their presence is not necessarily related to faecal contamination. While tests for thermotolerant coliforms can be simpler than for E. coli, E. coli is considered a superior indicator for detecting faecal contamination…” ADWG 2011


Based on aesthetic considerations (precipitation of iron from solution and taste), the concentration of iron in drinking water should not exceed 0.3 mg/L. No health-based guideline value has been set for iron.

Iron has a taste threshold of about 0.3 mg/L in water, and becomes objectionable above 3 mg/L. High iron concentrations give water an undesirable rust-brown appearance and can cause staining of laundry and plumbing fittings, fouling of ion-exchange softeners, and blockages in irrigation systems. Growths of iron bacteria, which concentrate iron, may cause taste and odour problems and lead to pipe restrictions, blockages and corrosion. ADWG 2011