UPDATE 10: All drinking water must be boiled in Martinborough until further notice

2.29pm, 8 February 2019

Following the boil water notice issued on Friday 1 February, South Wairarapa District Council continues to advise that all drinking water from the Martinborough town supply must be boiled before being used for drinking, making up formula, juices and ice, washing fruits and vegetables, other cooking needs, or brushing teeth.

Safe drinking water continues to be available to the public from the emergency water bladders behind the Waihinga Centre, outside the Wharekaka aged-care home, Martinborough School, the golf club and rugby club. The bladders will stay in place until the boil water notice is lifted.

Clear test results have been received this morning for samples taken one-day post chlorination of the reservoir and the area east of Todds Rd. This includes for those areas within the chlorinated zone and throughout the town water network.

Sampling and testing across all sites continues daily, as does the work to check, and address any issues found with, any possible risk points for recontamination. Council has been working with experts from Wellington Water to develop and implement this action plan since the beginning of the week.

The reservoirs have been superchorinated; today they are being emptied, then thoroughly cleaned over the weekend. Once all the cleaning is done, which is expected by Tuesday, the plan is to flush the whole network. From then, clear test results on three consecutive days are required before the council can consider lifting the boil water notice, in discussion with Regional Public Health.

Mayor Viv Napier says, “people have been so incredibly patient during this water situation. All going well, we’re hoping to have drinking water supply restored to Martinborough by next weekend.

“We’re keeping Regional Public Health closely informed of the steps we’re taking, and all indications from them are that, if we continue to get clear results, and they are satisfied that all potential sources of contamination have been addressed, the boil water notice can be lifted,” says Ms Napier.

Once the notice is lifted, mitigation and investigation work will continue, including reviewing the treatment plant performance and backflow mechanisms, and an increased sampling regime.

The risk of getting sick from drinking the water during the period leading up to the notice being issued is low but possible, especially for vulnerable people. Babies, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people who have weakened immune systems would have been more at risk of illness. If you develop an illness with diarrhoea, vomiting and/or a fever, and are concerned about your health, get advice from your doctor or contact Healthline (0800 611 116).  Any illnesses developing after a three-week period are unlikely to be related to drinking potentially contaminated water.

Next update: 2pm Monday 11 February, or earlier if required.

ENDS

This is what we know so far:

- Late afternoon on 30 Jan, routine testing carried out at various sites around the water system showed a positive result for low levels of E. coli at Martinborough School, all other samples were clear.

- Within half an hour, Regional Public Health was contacted to discuss the course of action.

- In consultation with Regional Public Health, the school was advised to use an alternative water source as a precaution.

- Further samples were taken from around the system and sent for testing, and follow-up results received on 10am 31 Jan showed all the results were clear. This was communicated to the school and in a Facebook response.

- Continued testing showed a second low, positive result for the sample taken near the reservoir

- In conjunction with Regional Public Health, the Council issued a Boiled Water Notice (3pm 1 Feb) before confirmation of the result was received over the weekend.

- Results from the samples taken on Friday and Saturday morning showed no alerts for E. coli in the samples taken in the town but confirmed the low, positive result for E. coli for the sample taken near the reservoir.

- In consultation with Regional Public Health, the Council developed a plan to chlorine flush the reservoir area of the system East of Todds Rd. This chlorine disinfection of Todds Rd was completed 6.30pm on 4 February.

- Test results from the samples taken before the chlorine disinfection confirmed low-level E. coli contamination of the reservoir as well as the water network east of Todds Rd. All results in the town were again clear.

- On 7 February, Council received clear test results for samples taken post-chlorination at the reservoir, east of Todds Rd, and the main pipe into town, as well as at sites within the town. These results suggest that chlorination has cleared the contamination; however, there is ongoing work to identify the probable source of contamination to prevent this happening again.

- On 8 February, clear test results were received for samples taken one-day post chlorination of the reservoir and the area east of Todds Rd. This includes for those areas within the chlorinated zone and throughout the town water network, indicating the contamination has been cleared.

- Currently reported levels of illness are not above that expected at this time of year. Wairarapa DHB has reported no presentations at ED in association with this event.

How to boil water for drinking:

  • Boiling will kill all disease-causing organisms.
  • Bring water to a rolling boil (where bubbles appear in the centre and do not disappear when the water is stirred) for one minute or boil a full electric jug until it switches off
  • Cool water (do not use ice cubes to do this) and pour into clean container with a lid
  • Refrigerate until needed.

For more information, contact SWDC on 06 30 69611 at or visit swdc.govt.nz/martinborough-town-water-situation further information about this issue, including past updates, FAQ, and educational resources.

Media contact:

Amy Wharram, Communications Manager 027 252 2863

South Wairarapa District Council