UPDATE 8: All drinking water must be boiled in Martinborough until further notice

10.00am, 7 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. An additional four 5,000 litre bladders have been put in place in different locations around the town so residents don’t have to go so far for water. There are now water bladders in place 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.

Post-chlorination test results, received this morning, for samples taken at the reservoir, down the main pipe into town, at the school and New York Street, (i.e. west of Todds Rd) were all clear. The test result for the sample east of Todds Rd is expected around midday and will be shared in a subsequent update.

Increased sampling and testing of water within the network, in terms of frequency and the number of sites, is continuing. Clear tests are required on three consecutive days, and an action plan to identify and mitigate all the risk points of contamination needs to be implemented to the satisfaction of Regional Public Health, before the boil water notice can be lifted. Council has been working with experts from Wellington Water to develop and implement this boil water notice removal plan since the beginning of the week.

Mayor Viv Napier says, “we understand as the days go on that people may become more frustrated. I can assure you that council staff and contractors are working as quickly as they can to get the boil water notice removed. Our top priority is keeping people safe while we establish whether the contamination has been cleared, and that we have eliminated all risks of recontamination.

“If you’re aware of any elderly or vulnerable people who may need some extra help obtaining safe drinking water during this time, please check on them, or contact the Council so we can check on them. It’s important that everyone stays hydrated during this warm time of year,” 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: 4pm Thursday 7 February, or earlier if required.


Media contact:

Amy Wharram, Communications Manager –  027 252 2863

Visit https://swdc.govt.nz/Martinborough-town-water-situation for further information , including past updates and educational resources.

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 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.

– On 7 February, Council received clear test results for samples taken post-chlorination at the reservoir and the main pipe into town, as well as at sites within the town. These results suggest that chlorination has cleared the contamination at the reservoir. Results for the sample taken east of Todds Rd is expected around midday.

– 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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