UPDATE 3 April – All drinking water must be boiled in Martinborough until further notice

2.25pm, 12 April 2019

A boil water notice was issued for all users on the town water supply on Tuesday 9 April, following positive results for E. coli.

South Wairarapa District Council (SWDC) advises that all drinking water in Martinborough must be boiled before being used for drinking, making up formula, juices, ice, washing fruit and vegetables, and other cooking needs, or brushing teeth.

Acting Chief Executive Jennie Mitchell says, “investigations into the source of contamination are continuing to focus at the reservoir, as well as private connections with the mains water supply”.

Some residents and plumbers have come forward with information about potential backflow issues at private properties, where water could have flowed back into the mains supply. Backflow prevention mechanisms should be installed to all connections to prevent this from happening.

Ms Mitchell says, “we’re keen to hear from anyone who might have information about faulty or missing backflow prevention mechanisms, particularly where there are connections to water tanks or other water supplies. There will be no negative consequences for property owners coming forward.

“It’s essential that we identify and address all the possible sources of contamination. The boil water notice cannot be lifted while there is ongoing risk of recontamination within the network.”

Martinborough water is vulnerable because unlike most town water supplies in New Zealand, it is not chlorinated. A UV disinfection system is used to treat the water at the point of entry into the system, providing a single barrier of protection.

Ms Mitchell says, “a multi-barrier approach is required to ensure safe drinking water for the community for the future”.

More information about backflow mechanisms is being prepared and will be available from Council offices and on our website.

New information

  • Test results for samples taken on 11 April show no alerts for E.coli. This result is as expected as the areas that showed contamination previously have been chlorinated.
  • Regional Public Health is seeking information from early childcare centres, schools, workplaces, pharmacies, medical centres, Masterton Hospital and elder care facilities and informants from the community. Any possible cases of illness that may be linked to drinking‑water are being actively followed up.

There is a risk of getting sick from drinking the water without boiling, especially for vulnerable people. 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 contact Healthline (0800 611 116).

The boil water notice is in effect until further notice.

Next update: 2pm Monday 15 April, or earlier if required.

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 further information, contact SWDC on 06 30 69611. Visit swdc.govt.nz/Martinborough-town-water-situation for background information, future updates and FAQs.

Media contact

Amy Wharram

021 252 2863

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