What to do with con­tam­i­nated wa­ter

Mansfield Courier - - Bushfires -

BUSH­FIRES have the po­ten­tial to cause a num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal health con­cerns be­yond the im­me­di­ate dam­age caused by the fire.

Mans­field Shire Coun­cil re­ceived a num­ber of questions about drink­ing wa­ter, specif­i­cally tank wa­ter and posted some an­swers to those queries on its web­site.

The Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices has also de­vel­oped a fact­sheet on pri­vate drink­ing wa­ter and wa­ter tank safety avail­able at www.bet­ter­health.vic.gov.au

If you live in a bush­fireaf­fected area your drink­ing wa­ter tank could have be­come con­tam­i­nated from de­bris, ash, dead an­i­mals or aerial fire re­tar­dants.

If the wa­ter tastes, looks or smells un­usual, do not drink it or give it to an­i­mals.

Wa­ter from a river or creek should never be used for drink­ing or pre­par­ing food un­less it has been prop­erly treated.

Wa­ter drawn from deep bores or wells should be safe to use.

If you are con­cerned, you should source an al­ter­na­tive drink­ing wa­ter sup­ply un­til you are con­fi­dent you nor­mal wa­ter sup­ply is safe.

Some sug­ges­tions on what to do if you sus­pect wa­ter has been tainted or con­tam­i­nated:

Smoke taint alone is un­likely to be a health con­cern. How­ever, if you are con­cerned about the taste of your rain­wa­ter, use bot­tled wa­ter for drink­ing and con­tinue to use your rain­wa­ter for other uses.

A bush­fire af­fected area is where wa­ter re­tar­dant and wa­ter bomb­ing ac­tiv­i­ties have oc­curred, and ash has fallen di­rectly onto the prop­er­ties.

What do I do if there are dead an­i­mals in my drink­ing wa­ter sys­tem?

Wear gloves to re­move dead an­i­mals from your roof, your gut­ters or in your tank. Dis­pose of gloves af­ter use, and dis­in­fect your tank wa­ter be­fore re-us­ing it.

Wa­ter can be dis­in­fected by bring­ing the wa­ter to a rolling boil, or by us­ing chlo­rine (bleach).

To boil wa­ter for drink­ing pur­poses: bring wa­ter to a boil by heat­ing un­til a rapid stream of air-bub­ble is pro­duced from the bot­tom of a pan or kettle. Ket­tles with au­to­matic shut off switches are suit­able.

To dis­in­fect your tank wa­ter us­ing chlo­rine, use the fol­low­ing in­struc­tions:

For ev­ery 1000 litres of wa­ter in your tank you can safely add:

Ap­prox­i­mately 125mL or 125g of four per cent chlo­rine house­hold bleach (avoid bleaches that con­tain de­ter­gents or per­fumes), or

ap­prox­i­mately 40mL or 40g of 12.5 per cent chlo­rine liq­uid swim­ming pool or dairy fac­tory chlo­rine, or

Ap­prox­i­mately 8mL or 8g of 65 per cent gran­u­lar ‘swim­ming pool’ chlo­rine.

Af­ter chlo­ri­nat­ing, you should wait at least 24 hours be­fore us­ing the wa­ter to al­low for micro­organ­isms to be de­stroyed.

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