Boil Water Notices
A boil water notice is used to safeguard health when the water supply may have been compromised.
You may be asked to boil your water during an emergency or operational failure:
- at times of high turbidity in the source water (dirty water)
- if tests show that harmful micro-organisms could be present in the water
- if the water pressure drops due to equipment failure or power outages
- because of a break or repairs on a water main
- if the water source has been flooded or there is a significant inflow of stormwater
- during situations that warrant special action to protect consumers health.
A boil water notice does not necessarily mean that tap water will make everyone seriously ill, but it does mean the water does not meet the New Zealand Drinking-water Standards. It is likely that there are harmful microorganisms (pathogens) in the water.
Current Boil Water Notices:
For the latest updates on these notices, please see our News page.
What should I do if a boil water notice is issued?
Until notified, residents will be advised to boil water before using it for:
Electric jugs with a cut-off switch can be used as long as they are full – allow the water to come to the boil and wait for it to switch off (do not hold the switch down to increase the boiling time). Water can also be placed in a clean metal pan and brought to a rolling boil for one minute. Boiled water should be covered and allowed to cool in the same container.
People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, pregnant women, and some elderly may be at increased risk. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. If you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor or Healthline 0800 611 116.
For more information, please refer to this useful Boil Water Advisory Factsheet published by Midcentral Health
What situation would cause a Boil Water Notice to be issued?
There are a number of reasons Council may issue a Boil Water Notice. The three main reasons are as follows:
1. After a period of heavy rainfall the river flow is high and fast and has had the effect of what we term as "Turbidity". In simple terms this is "dirty water" that is picked up from the riverbed and river bank. When this happens water treatment plants struggle to reduce the turbidity for a period of time until the river flow settles down.
2. An incident occurred in which there is a slight chance of backflow or bacteria entering the system, such as, low or no pressure or a water main break or a disruption in the water plant treatment.
3. When a microbiological contaminant is known to actually exist in the water in an amount that exceeds the allowable maximum contaminant level for drinking water standards.
I have already drank the water. Will I get sick?
Most people who happen to drink this water will not get sick. Babies, young children, the elderly and people who have compromised immune systems are more of risk of illness. If you get diarrhoea, vomiting and/or a fever, contact Healthline (0800 611 116) or your doctor.
Can I take a bath or shower?
Adults, teens 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.
Can I use the water for handwashing?
If the boil water advisory has been issued as a precaution and there is no outbreak of human illness, vigorous handwashing using tap water and soap is sufficient. If the boil water advisory has been issued because of an outbreak, you should either:
- Use bottled or boiled water for handwashing
- Use soap and tap water followed by additional hand disinfection, by either:
- rinsing hands in disinfectant solution (add 1 teaspoon plain household bleach to 10 litres of water and allow to stand for 30 minutes before use. Change solution frequently)
- using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol.
Wet wipes used for cleaning babies are not effective for disinfecting hands.
Will you provide water to schools?
We recommend sending your child to school with a drink bottle filled with cooled, boiled water. Most drinking fountains are linked to our supply so will be out of use during a boil water notice. We will assess supplying schools with water on a case by case situation.
If you are a school looking for clarification on this issue, please contact Council on 06 374 4080
What about my pets or livestock?
Pets and livestock can usually drink untreated water.
What should I do about feeding my baby?
If breastfeeding, continue as usual. If you are using baby formula, prepare using bottled or cooled, boiled water. Wash and sterilise bottles and teats by boiling or microwaving.