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Flood affected Southland residents urged to boil water until further notice

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The Medical Officer of Health is reminding flood affected Southland residents that it is important they continue to boil their drinking water because of the risk that contamination could lead to illness.

This boil water notice applies to residents in Mataura and the Otama Water Supply scheme, plus all flood-affected Southland residents who use groundwater (e.g. bores that may be contaminated by floodwater), or flood-affected rainwater tanks.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Jack said that while boil water notices had been in place and publicised since last week’s flood, there were some people who hadn’t heard this advice and had become unwell after drinking contaminated water.

“It is very important that people in flood affected areas continue to boil their drinking water until further notice, to limit the health risk from drinking water supplies that may contain bugs that cause disease and other contaminants.  Boiling the water will ensure that bugs that may be in the water supply will be killed.”

Affected residents should:

  • Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute (electric jugs with a cut-off switch can be used).
  • Allow water to cool before using.
  • Store cooled water in a clean container with a cover.

Please check your local council website and the Southern Health website for the latest boil water advice and information.

Dr Jack advised residents who had already consumed water that had not been boiled and experienced diarrhoea, vomiting and/or fever to contact Healthline (0800 611 116) or their doctor.  Babies, young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are more at risk of illness.

Boiled water should be used for drinking, making up baby formula, juices, cooking, making ice and washing fruit and vegetables.  Hot water from the tap is not safe enough to use during a boil water advisory as the temperature of the hot water cylinder is not high enough to kill germs.

Adults, teens and older children may shower or bath with untreated water, as long as they avoid the face and do not swallow any water.  However young children should be sponge bathed, instead of bathing in a tub because they are likely to swallow the bath water.  People with recent surgical wounds or chronic illness may wish to use bottle or boiled water for bathing until the advisory is lifted.

Only use boiled or bottled water for brushing your teeth.  However, you can shave using tap water.

For more detailed advice go to the Southland Floods – public health and support information on the Southern Health website