UPDATE 7: All drinking water must be boiled in Martinborough until further notice

4:52pm 5 February

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 can also be obtained from the emergency water bladders behind the Waihinga Centre. The bladders will stay in place until the Boil Water Notice is lifted.

Test results from the samples taken yesterday, before the chlorine disinfection, confirmed low-level E. coli contamination at the reservoir, and water network east of Todd Rd. These results show the precaution of disinfecting the Todd Rd area was a necessary step.

Results from two further samples in the town, at the school and New York Street, again showed no alerts for E. coli. The test results of the samples taken at the reservoir and east of Todd Rd post-chlorination will not be available until tomorrow.

Due to receiving the additional low, positive result east of Todds Rd, Regional Public Health and Council need evidence that all possible sources of contamination have been mitigated so there is no future risk to health.

This means increased sampling and testing of water within the network, in terms of frequency and the number of sites and taking a risk-based approach to identifying all the possible sites of contamination. Council is already working with experts from Wellington Water to develop and implement this boil water notice removal plan.

Mayor Viv Napier says, “the Martinborough community has so far been amazingly cooperative and upbeat about the boil water notice.

“As much as we want the notice to be lifted as soon as possible, we have to be sure that when it is, there is no future risk of recontamination. That is why we are working with Wellington Water and Regional Public Health to ensure we’re following a best-practice approach, says Ms Napier.

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.

The boil water notice will remain in place until daily testing shows three clear results on three consecutive days, and that the potential sites of recontamination have been mitigated to the satisfaction of Regional Public Health.

Next update: 10am Thursday 7 February, or earlier if required.

ENDS

Media contact:

Amy Wharram, Communications Manager -  027 252 2863

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.

- The chlorine disinfection of Todds Rd was completed 6.30pm on 4 February.

- Test results from the samples taken yesterday (4 February) before the chlorine disinfection, confirmed low-level E. coli contamination of the reservoir as well as the water network east of Todd Rd. All results in the town were again clear.

- Tomorrow (6 Wednesday) Council will find out whether the chlorination has cleared the contamination within the reservoir and east of Todds Rd.

- 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.

 

South Wairarapa District Council