What You Need to Know about Canberra’s Water Supply

Canberra is known as the Bush Capital due to its inland location, far from any major water source and surrounded by deserts. Fortunately, it has an abundant water supply that keeps Canberra’s residents with access to plenty of fresh, clean water. 

Get a better understanding of Canberra’s water supply and make sure you have all the facts! In this guide, you’ll learn about Canberra’s water supply system, the water treatment process and how water gets from the source to your home or business.  

Corin Dam
Corin Dam [Source: Icon Water]

Water Catchments and Dams

The Canberra water supply is managed by Icon Water, an independent statutory authority. Established in 1999, Icon Water is responsible for the delivery of safe, reliable and affordable water services to the ACT region. 

This includes managing the water catchment areas, which are located mainly in the Brindabella Ranges, as well as the treatment, storage and distribution of drinking water and wastewater services.

Icon Water operates a number of dams and treatment plants throughout the region. These facilities are used to store, treat and distribute drinking water throughout Canberra. The majority of Canberra’s water supply is sourced from four main dams: Corin, Bendora, Cotter and Googong. Most of the water stored in these dams is supplied to residents, businesses and other customers across the ACT.

In addition to these dams, there are also two major groundwater supplies: the Namadgi Aquifer and the Jerrabomberra Aquifer. These aquifers are located in the Tuggeranong Valley and the Molonglo Valley respectively, and provide an additional water source for Canberra.

The Murrumbidgee River is also used to supplement the water supply during periods of high demand. This water is collected from surrounding catchments and released into Lake Burley Griffin. 

Mount Stromlo Water Treatment Plant

Mount Stromlo Water Treatment Plant [source: Icon Water]

Local Water Treatment Plants

Water from the Cotter River and Murrumbidgee River catchments is treated at Mount Stromlo Water Treatment Plant, which can produce up to 250 megalitres per day. 

Water from Googong dam is treated at the Googong Water Treatment Plant which, thanks to its new dissolved air flotation and filtration process, has increased the capacity of the plant from 180 megalitres per day up to 270 megalitres per day.

The Water Treatment Process

To make sure the water delivered to Canberra homes and businesses is safe and of the highest quality, it must first go through a series of steps.

Coagulation and Flocculation

At the treatment plant, the water firstly goes through a filtration process where the tiny particles come together to form larger particles. The water is then mixed and circulated, causing these larger particles to float to the top in a sludgy froth.

Dissolved Air Flotation

This is an optional step that involves dissolving air in the water, causing suspended matter such as oil or solids to float to the surface. They can then be much more easily removed during the filtration process.


To remove any remaining particles, the water is then pumped through filters made from anthracite coal and sand.


Once the water has been filtered, fluoride is then added to the water, which helps maintain healthy teeth, just as your toothpaste does!

pH Adjustment

To bring the water pH level up to a potable standard, lime is then added. Lime is also used to help reduce water hardness and improve the overall water quality.


Disinfecting the water involves a two-step process. Firstly, ultraviolet light is used to kill harmful bugs, and then chlorine is added to eliminate any residual bacteria. 

Safety and Quality Testing

Finally, the water is tested for safety and quality before it is sent out to Canberra’s taps.

With this comprehensive treatment process in place, you can rest assured that your tap water is safe and of the highest quality. 

Conserving Canberra’s Water Resources for the Future

Once the water has been processed and stored, it is ready to be distributed for use. There are four main ways that water is distributed: recycled wastewater, drinking water, fire fighting and irrigation.

Icon Water also works to conserve Canberra’s water resources by operating a number of programs designed to promote water efficiency, reduce water use and improve water quality. Icon Water’s initiatives include the ‘Love Water’ program, which helps households and businesses save money by using water efficiently. 

COAG Urban Water Reform

Urban water reform is a hot-button issue in Australia, particularly for the citizens of Canberra. In 2004, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) passed a major urban water reform package to improve the sustainability of Australia’s water supply and ensure that water is used more efficiently.

Canberra’s water supply is managed by the ACT Government, who must comply with the COAG urban water reform package. This package sets out a range of measures to improve the efficiency of the city’s water use and promote sustainability in the long term. 

These measures include:

Metering: All new developments must install meters to measure and monitor water usage.

Water efficiency: The ACT Government must develop strategies to reduce water consumption and encourage more efficient use of water.

Water recycling: Recycling treated wastewater for non-potable uses such as irrigation and industry can help reduce reliance on fresh water sources.

Catchment management: Protecting and managing the city’s catchment areas is vital to ensure the quality and quantity of water available.

These measures are designed to ensure that Canberra has an adequate and reliable water supply, both now and into the future. By taking proactive steps to manage our water resources, we can ensure that everyone has access to clean, safe water for generations to come.

Maintain a Steady Supply of Fresh Water to your Canberra Home or Business

For all your plumbing needs in the Canberra area, contact Fluid Plumbing Services. Chat to our friendly team to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment for a free inspection of your plumbing system.