UPDATE 6: All drinking water must be boiled in Martinborough until further notice

 5.04pm, 4 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 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.

Following confirmation of a positive, low result for E. coli for the water sample taken near the reservoir, the Council has this afternoon started chlorine disinfection of the reservoir, the mains into town and, as a precaution, the area of the system east of Todd Rd. This area includes approximately 73 properties connected to the town water supply. This is expected to be completed by 6.30pm.

Due to the presence of the mineral manganese found naturally in the bore water that supplies Martinborough, the addition of chlorine will turn the water a blue/black colour. Although safe to drink, the colour is not aesthetically pleasing. The usual treatment for the Martinborough Town Water supply uses ultraviolet light that kills 99.9% of bacteria at the point where water enters the pipes. The addition of Chlorine kills any bacteria that may have entered the pipe network via a problem in the system, after treatment with UV light at the water source.

Households within the disinfection area have been notified to expect their water to run black/blue initially when they turn their water on, and to run the water until it is clear before using, which may take up to 10 minutes.

The risk of getting sick from drinking the water during the period leading up to the notice being issued was 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 have been ill with diarrhoea, vomiting and/or a fever, and are concerned, get advice from your doctor or contact Healthline (0800 611 116).

The boil water notice will remain in place until daily testing, of the chlorinated area and as a precaution other sites in town, shows three clear results on three consecutive days. Testing of the chlorinated area will start again from Wednesday.

Next update: 4 pm Tuesday 5 February, or earlier if required.


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

– a confirmed 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 flush the reservoir area of the system East of Todds Rd.

– Residents east of Todds Rd received a notification to their door about what to expect

– The chlorine disinfection is expected to be completed by 6.30pm

– 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.

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