Martinborough Boil Water Notice FAQ

I don't like the chlorine taste of the waters in the bladders; what can I do? 

To improve the taste, store your treated water in the fridge. Not only will the chilled water taste better, it will lose that chlorine smell. Keep the jug covered and preferably do not keep any water for more than 24 hours.

Can I take a bath or shower?

Adults and older children may shower or bathe with untreated water as long as no water is swallowed (avoid the face). Young children should be sponge-bathed instead of bathing in a tub because they are likely to swallow the bath water. If you have recent surgical wounds or a chronic illness, you may want to use bottled or boiled water for bathing until the advisory is lifted.  You can use water from the hot water cylinder, header tank and toilet cistern (if no chemical toilet cleanser is present) to wash yourself.

Can I use the water for handwashing?

Keeping hands clean during a boil water notice helps prevent the spread of bugs that can make people sick.  The Martinborough tap water is safe to use for handwashing when used with soap and then drying your hands well.

 

Wash your hands well. If water is in very short supply, keep some in a bowl with disinfectant added, but change frequently.

Can I brush my teeth?

Only use commercially bottled water, water that has been boiled or water that has been treated by adding plain unscented bleach for brushing your teeth. 

Can I use the water to shave?

You can shave as usual using the tap water.

I have a water storage tank - what should I do with this water after a water advisory/notice is lifted? It is recommended that you continue to boil your water until the water in the tank has turned over.  You will need to know the size of your tank and have an understanding of how much water you use on average, to estimate how much extra time to boil your water.  Alternatively you can add additional chlorine (unscented plain bleach) to your tank as per the instructions in https://www.healthed.govt.nz/resource/household-water-supplies (page 17).  It is recommended that private tanks are inspected annually and cleaned if necessary with a focus on removing any accumulated sediment.  Page 17 in the Household Water Supplies resource has further information on this.  

What does E. coli in the drinking water mean?

E. coli is a subgroup of the faecal coliform group. Most E. coli bacteria are harmless and exist in the intestines of people and warm-blooded animals. However, some strains can cause illness. The presence of E. coli in a drinking water sample usually indicates recent faecal contamination. That means there is a greater risk there are bugs that can cause illness being present in the water.

Note: E. coli outbreaks receive a lot of media coverage. A specific strain of E. coli bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7 (also known as VTEC) causes most of those outbreaks. When a drinking water sample is reported as “E. coli present,” it does not mean that O157:H7 is present. However, it does indicate recent faecal contamination. Boiling or disinfecting contaminated drinking water destroys all forms of E. coli, whether or not they can cause illness in humans.

Original FAQs  
What is a Boil Water advisory/notice ? A boil water notice or advisory is an instruction from the council that all water for drinking, preparing food, brushing teeth and preparing infant formula must be boiled (or have some other treatment e.g. bleach) before use.  Water for showering and laundry and other uses does not need to be boiled. The reason for the instruction is due to concerns about the bugs contaminating the water and you should follow the instruction until you hear the water is safe to drink from the council that the boil water advisory or notice has been lifted.
Why has a water advisory/notice been issued? Council may issue a Boil Water, Do Not Drink Water or Do Not Use Water notice when there's a problem with the water to reduce the likelihood that anyone will get sick.  The notice should remain in place until the water supply is once again safe to drink or use normally.
How will I find out out when I can drink my water or get updates on what is happening? You should regularly check for any official information via the council webpage or facebook page which will be updated with new information.
What should I do once a water advisory/notice is lifted? Run all your cold taps for 5 minutes before using the water. Flush any appliances, e.g. coffee machines, water dispensers, ice makers  that are connected to the water supply. Hot water cylinders and header tanks may need to be drained and refilled - the council will provide some specific instructions at the time the notice is lifted.  
I have a water storage tank - what should I do with this water after a water advisory/notice is lifted? It is recommended that you continue to boil your water until the water in the tank has turned over.  You will need to know the size of your tank and have an understanding of how much water you use on average, to estimate how much extra time to boil your water.  Alternatively you can add additional chlorine (unscented plain bleach) to your tank as per the instructions in https://www.healthed.govt.nz/resource/household-water-supplies (page 17).  It is recommended that private tanks are inspected annually and cleaned if necessary with a focus on removing any accumulated sediment.  Page 17 in the Household Water Supplies resource has further information on this.  
I have a water filter installed.  Does this need to be cleaned after the water advisory notice has been lifted? Water filters should be maintained and replaced according to the manufacturers instructions.  You will also need to follow the advice of the water supplier for any specific instructions.
Bleach and Martinborough Water? Martinborough water is sourced from the ground and has minerals in it. Some of these minerals can react with the bleach which changed the colour to blue/black. While not hazardous, it is not aesthetically pleasing.
I cannot boil my water. How do I disinfect my water to make it safe to drink? You can add plain unscented bleach to your water (do not use Janola as it contains cleaning chemicals which make it unsuitable for treating drinking water).  To disinfect the water add 5 drops of bleach to 1 litre of water or 1/2 teaspoon to 10 litres of water. Stir and leave the water to stand for 30 minutes before drinking.
What is bleach? Bleach is a compound (mix) of chlorine known as sodium hypochlorite.  Chlorine compounds are often added to drinking water to get rid of disease causing bugs.  The use of chlorine has been a major factor in reducing illness from waterborne diseases.
Can I use any brand of bleach? Plain unscented bleach is best.  It is not safe to use bleaches that contain added scent or perfume, surfactants (cleaning chemicals) or other additives - as they can make people sick. Surfactants will make the water foam or bubble when it is shaken or mixed. If the product's label is not clear about what has been added to the bleach, do not use the product for making water safe to drink. 
What are some good brands of bleach? Plain unscented bleach is best.  It is not safe to use bleaches that contain added scent or perfume, surfactants (cleaning chemicals) or other additives - as they can make people sick. Household budget bleach is suitable.
My bleach has expired, can I still use it? If there are no alternatives available, use your bleach and double the dose.  You can double the dose with no adverse health effects.
I don't like the chlorine taste of bleach; what can I do?  To improve the taste, store your treated water in the fridge. Not only will the chilled water taste better, it will lose that chlorine smell. Keep the jug covered and preferably do not keep any water for more than 24 hours.
Why is boiling preferable to adding bleach? Boiling water is the most effective way to disinfect water, as it will kill all disease-causing bugs.  If it is not possible to boil water e.g. in a power outage, disinfecting the water by adding bleach, is effective for killing most bugs.
How will I find out out when I can drink my water or get updates on what is happening? You should regularly check for any official information via the council webpage or facebook page.
Can purification tablets be used to treat water? If you are unable to boil your water or add bleach, purification tablets can be used to disinfect the water.  Follow manufacturers instructions for details on how much to use.
Can I use contaminated water for cooking? No, any water used for preparing food or cooking needs to be treated first by boiling or adding bleach. 
What if I am boiling my water as part of the cooking process? It is safer to treat the water first (boil or add bleach) in case the water does not reach a high enough temperature during cooking.
How do I prepare food and drinks? Fruit and vegetables should be washed using cooled, boiled water, water treated with plain unscented bleach or commercially bottled water. In cooking it is safer to boil the water first to prevent the potential for inadequate heating.  Do not use ice, food or drinks that may have been made from contaminated tap water.
Can I use my coffee machine, soda machine or ice maker? What about ice? Coffee machines, soda machines and ice makers that are connected to the water supply should not be used.  Use boiled water, water treated with plain unscented bleach or commercially bottled water for making coffee, soda drinks or ice.
I have a water filtration unit installed / a container fitted with a filter. Does this make the water safe? No.  Filtered water does not destroy bugs that can make people sick.  Filtered water should be treated by boiling or adding bleach before using it for drinking, preparing food, cooking, making up infant formula, handwashing and cleaning teeth.
What should I do about feeding my baby? If breastfeeding, continue as usual. If you are using infant formula, prepare using commercially bottled or cooled, boiled water. Wash and sterilise bottles and teats in boiling water or use sterilisation tablets and follow manufacturers instructions.  To prepare infant formula safely, follow the guidance contained in this factsheet https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/topic_sheets/feeding-your-baby-in-an-emergency-dec15.pdf
Is it safe to water my vege garden with untreated water? Vege gardens should be watered with treated water to prevent contaminating garden produce.
   
I wash dishes by hand. How do I disinfect them? Dishes can be washed using boiled water and detergent. If you are unable to boil your water, dishes washed with contaminated tap water and detergent should be rinsed in bleach solution. (1/4 cup of plain unscented household bleach per 10 litres of water). Allow dishes to completely air dry.
Is it safe to use my dishwasher? Household dishwashers are generally safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 65°c or if the dishwasher has a sanitising cycle.   
Should I change the way I am doing my laundry? No, you can continue doing your laundry the way you usually do
Do I need to treat the water I use for cleaning? For general cleaning (dishes and hard surfaces) use 1 teaspoon of plain unscented household bleach per 1 litre of water or 1/4 cup in 10 litres of water. 
For heavy cleaning (floodwater, toilets or illness) use 1/4 cup of unscented household bleach per 1 litre or 2 cups in 10 litres of water
Can my pets drink untreated water? Pets can usually drink untreated water.  If you have any concerns contact your veterinarian.
Do I need to worry about my fish or aquatic pets (e.g. reptiles, frogs)? Most bugs that infect people do not infect reptiles or fish. Be cautious about changing the water in your fish tank or aquarium if the water has different treatment (e.g. more chlorine being added or new treatment added). Contact your local pet store or veterinarian for more advice.
Can livestock drink untreated water? Livestock can usually drink untreated water.  If you have any concerns contact your veterinarian.
What are the potential health risks from drinking water that hasn’t been boiled first? There is a risk you could get sick from bugs in the water.  Babies, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people who have weakened immune systems are more at risk of illness. If you get diarrhoea, vomiting and/or a fever get advice from your doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116).
I have already drunk the water. Will I get sick? Although the risk is low in this situation, it is possible you could get sick in the next few days. If you get diarrhoea, vomiting and/or a fever, contact your doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116).  Babies, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people who have weakened immune systems are more at risk of illness.
What should I do if I have symptoms? The most important thing to do is to avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coca cola or energy drinks, coffee, and tea. If you are concerned about your health or the health of a family member, contact your doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116).

South Wairarapa District Council