Media Release -20/06/11
Boil water notice lifted across Christchurch
Christchurch’s reticulated water supply is now safe to drink but people are urged to continue to boil drinking water from all other sources.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ramon Pink today informed the Christchurch City Council that it is safe to lift the boil water notice for Christchurch’s reticulated water supply.
The boil water notice was put in place immediately last Monday (June 13) after the magnitude 5.5 and 6.3 earthquakes because of the risk of contamination resulting from further damage to the water system.
The Community and Public Health team at the Canterbury District Health Board has been working closely with City Council staff to extensively test the water supply and ensure it is safe to drink.
“The testing of the water supply across the city has meant that we are confident Christchurch’s tap water is now safe to drink,” Dr Pink says.
Dr Pink praised the City Council’s infrastructure team for its “outstanding work” repairing the water system, along with its decision to chlorinate large parts of the city’s water supply in February.
“The fact the water was already chlorinated in many areas suffering new damage has expedited the lifting of the boil water notice,” Dr Pink says.
“With the size of last week’s earthquakes and the damage they caused to the system, I am confident we would not be ready to lift the notice if chlorine was not in the water.”
Chlorination is a safe and effective way of managing water supply related health risks. The majority of supplies in New Zealand have chlorine in them on a permanent basis.
“The Council plan to remove the chlorine from the Christchurch water supply as soon as it is safe and practical to do so. If people don’t like the taste of chlorine then they should fill a jug with water and store it in the fridge for 30 minutes before drinking. This will lessen the taste and odour.”
Dr Pink urged people to continue to boil water from all other supplies.
“We advice people still sourcing water from private bores and wells, tankers, emergency tanks or distribution points to continue to boil the water.”
Once the reticulated water supply is back on in areas currently without supply, it will be safe to drink without boiling.
“The reticulated water supply is maintained, monitored and regularly tested to ensure it is safe to drink. Private bores and wells do not undergo the same level of maintenance and it is impossible to tell without testing how these have been compromised by the earthquakes. If people are determined to continue to use private wells to source their drinking water in order to avoid the taste of chlorine, they should continue to boil this water.”
Owners of private wells or bores are advised to organise on-going private testing to ensure the supply is safe to drink, Dr Pink says.