FAQs

INVERLOCH BOIL WATER ADVICE – 04/03/2021

Boil Water Advisory Notice FAQS

  • When is a Boil Water Advisory declared?

A boil water advisory is declared as a precautionary measure when there is a risk that supplied drinking water is contaminated with harmful microorganisms (including bacteria, viruses and protozoa). Tap water may potentially be unsafe for consumption unless it is disinfected by rapid boiling.

  • Why has a Boil Water Advisory been declared on this occasion?

We have found two deceased birds and sediment in the Inverloch supply. In the interests of public safety, we’re taking a very cautious approach. The presence of the birds may indicate some sort of microbiological contamination, which we are now testing. We’re also immediately cleaning the system to bring it back online as soon as possible.

Cape Patterson and Wonthaggi are not affected.

1.3       What is the risk associated with drinking unboiled tap water?

There is a risk that you will contract a waterborne illness.

In many cases, symptoms may be mild and short-lived but there is also a real possibility of serious illness and long term health effects.

Do not take the risk –boil the water!

The severity and persistence of a waterborne illness will depend on the type of microorganism present, and the health and immune strength of the infected individual. The risk  is greater for (but not limited to) children, the elderly, and persons with immune deficiency disorders or pre-existing illness.

  • How long should water be boiled?

Bring water to a rolling boil by heating it until a continuous and rapid stream of air-bubbles is produced from the bottom of a pan or kettle.  Electric kettles/jugs with automatic cut-off switches are suitable for producing boiled water. Variable temperature kettles should be set to boil. Allow boiled water to cool before using it.

If you wish to prepare larger quantities of disinfected water and use a pot or pan for boiling water remember that HOT WATER BURNS LIKE FIRE! So take all usual safety precautions when boiling water on a stove top:

  • Use the back burners of the stove-top;
  • Ensure pot handles are turned inwards;
  • Boil water in quantities that you can comfortably carry;
  • Leave pots/kettles of boiled water to cool on the stove-top before attempting to decant the water into another container;
  • Be extra vigilant of children.

If boiling water in a microwave, be aware of the possibility of ‘superheating’ and allow water to sit in the microwave for a few minutes before opening the door.

  • How should boiled water be stored?

Once boiled water has cooled it should be stored in clean containers made of food-grade material. Do not use containers that have previously held non-food material such as cleaning agents or other chemicals.

The water may be stored at room-temperature provided the container has a lid or is otherwise covered. If the water is to be stored for a few days or more, place it in the fridge. Decanting the water back and forth between one clean container and another a few times should help to improve the ‘flat’ flavour of the water.

  • What should I use boiled water for?

Any water that has a chance of being ingested should be boiled:

  1. Drinking:
    Use boiled water for drinking. This includes that used to prepare infant formula, cordial drinks, reconstituted milk powder, ice teas, etc.;
  2. Washing Food:
    Use boiled water to wash ready-to-eat and uncooked foods such as fruit and vegetables;
  3. Cooking:
    Use boiled water for any cooking or food preparation procedure where a rolling boil of one minute for added water may not be achieved (for example, adding extra water to a sauce or stew at the end of the cooking process. If in doubt, just use boiled water.);
  4. Making Ice:
    Use boiled water for making ice. Switch off and clean out ice machines during a boil water advisory;
  5. Brushing Teeth and other personal hygiene activities:
    Use boiled water for brushing teeth, cleaning dentures, gargling, shaving, and rinsing contact lenses or eyes;
  6. Pets:
    Veterinarians recommend that drinking water for pets including dogs, cats, birds and reptiles also be boiled and then cooled. For advice on water quality required for livestock, consult your veterinarian.

    • Is the tap water safe for washing dishes and wiping benches?
  • It is safe to use unboiled tap water for hand-washing of dishes provided detergent is used, and dishes cutlery are allowed to air-dry before use.
  • It is safe to use an automatic dishwasher provided it has a hot setting for both the washing and rinsing cycles and dishes are allowed to air-dry;
  • Wipe food preparation surfaces using boiled water or water that has been disinfected by adding bleach or other sanitising agents.

Note:   It is important that bleach, sanitising agents and other disinfectants are made up and used according to the directions on the product label.

  • Is the tap water safe for washing hands?

Tap water may be used for washing hands. Use soap and then dry hands thoroughly.

  • Is the tap water safe for bathing and showering?

Water is safe for bathing and showering provided there is no risk of ingestion while doing so:

  • A sponge bath is recommended for infants to ensure that bath water is not swallowed. Do not allow children to suck on bath toys;
  • Older children may be bathed or showered with a hand-held showerhead, avoiding the face;
  • Teens and adults may shower with untreated water as long as no water is swallowed;
    • Is the water safe for filling wading pools for children?

No, the water is not safe for use in wading pools. Water usually gets into the mouths of small children during water play.

  • Is the water safe for use in the laundry?

Yes, it is safe to wash clothes, bedding and other laundry items with un-boiled tap water.

  • What are the alternatives to boiling water?
  • Use commercially prepared bottled water;
  • Fill clean, sanitised, food-grade containers at the alternative water supply tanker location listed on the boil water advisory notice.
    • Can I just filter the water to make it safe?

No. Typical at home filter jugs and installed filter devices do not remove all bacteria and viruses. Filtered water should also be brought to a rolling boil before drinking or using in food preparation.

  • Can I just use water from the hot tap for drinking and food preparation?

No. Using hot water for drinking is not recommended as the hot water service may not be set at a temperature to adequately disinfect water. Water from the hot tap is also more likely to contain metallic contaminants, particularly if the service and fittings are old.

  • What is being done to fix the problem?

Be assured that South Gippsland Water is taking action to restore the supply of safe drinking water to your area. Any treatment or disinfection issues are being addressed, flushing of the distribution system will be conducted and a microbiological monitoring program is in progress.

  • When will the water be declared safe?

The water will be declared safe once corrective actions have been completed and test results show that there are no harmful microorganisms present. Typically, two consecutive sets of sampling results indicating that the water is safe will be required. Lifting of the Boil Water Advisory will be in consultation with the Department of Health.

  • How will I know when the water is safe to drink?

Tune in to local radio and television news for updates on the status of the Boil Water Advisory. Once the Boil Water Advisory has been lifted, a Discontinue Boil Water Advisory Notice will be delivered to your address. You are also invited to contact South Gippsland water Customer Service on 1300 851 636 for up-to-date information at any time.

  • What should I do once the Boil Water Advisory has been lifted?
  • Flush all outdoor taps for a few minutes;
  • Flush internal taps for 2 minutes to draw fresh water into their internal plumbing
  • Drain and flush all ice-making machines in your refrigerator;
  • Change any pre-treatment filters (under sink style and refrigerator water filters, carbon block, activated carbon, sediment filters, etc).
    • I have ingested unboiled water and developed gastro like symptoms, what should I do?

Seek the advice of your GP if you develop gastro like symptoms. Be watchful for symptoms which will typically develop from between one and ten days following ingestion of contaminated water. You are also encouraged to contact South Gippsland Water Customer Service on 1300 851 636 for further information. For more information on gastro like symptoms, refer to Better Health Channel (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/gastroenteritis)

Where can I get further information?

Contact South Gippsland Water on 1300 851 636

 

My water has a strong chlorine taste…

My water has a disagreeable taste, odour and/or smell..

What chemicals are added to the water supply?

How do I find out about the water quality in the supply system?

My water leaves a stain when it is boiled

My water is discoloured

How do I tell where the cause is?

What is Potable Water?

Who is a “Water Supply By Agreement” customer?

What is water hardness? and what is the hardness of my tap water?

 

My water has a strong chlorine taste…

All drinking water supplies are disinfected with chlorine. The addition of chlorine ensures that any pathogens (disease causing agents) are killed and that the water is safe to drink.
The reticulation/pipe work system is regularly monitored to ensure that appropriate chlorine levels are present to ensure there is disinfection downstream of the treatment plant and safe water is delivered to the customer’s tap.

Chlorine begins to be noticeable to average persons at levels greater than 0.6 mg/L. The chlorine residual within the supply can dissipate over time and distance. To try to maintain some chlorine at the extremities of, the reticulation system, the dosage at the treatment plant is often in excess of 0.6 mg/L. As excessive chlorine may cause taste and odour problems, the dosage is carefully managed.

Customers located near the treatment source will be supplied with water that has higher levels of chlorine and could be more susceptible to the taste and smell of chlorine than those customers that are located further down the system. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines have an upper limit of 5 mg/L.

South Gippsland Water is acutely aware that chlorine may degrade the taste and smell of water. The need for good tasting water is therefore carefully balanced against the need to guarantee water safety.

  • If your water has a strong chlorine odour or taste you can fill a large clean jug and let stand overnight. This will usually be enough time for the chlorine to dissipate.

 

My water has a disagreeable taste, odour and/or smell…

Many factors may contribute to water taste, smell and odour problems. The significant factors are algae and chlorine.
Algae often grow in water storages particularly over the hotter summer months. As the bloom recedes and the algae die off they will release chemical substances into the water that may cause a disagreeable taste and odour.
South Gippsland Water controls potential algae problems by adopting the following management approaches:

  • Algae prevention. South Gippsland Water regularly monitors water storages for the presence of algae. If algae are detected in high numbers, if possible, the affected water storage will be taken off line.
  • Water Treatment. Water treatment plants, treat water by a filtering process that will remove the majority of sediments and some taste and odour compounds

 

What chemicals are added to the water supply?

All potable drinking water supplies are treated to ensure that the water is safe and aesthetically pleasing. Chemicals are added to facilitate the treatment process.

Below is an overview of the typical chemicals added during water treatment. For more detail on what specific chemicals are added to each treatment facility please view the Annual Drinking Water Quality Report.

  • Small quantities of Alum (Aluminium Sulphate) are added to the raw water during the treatment process. This chemical causes pollutants such as bacteria and sediments to flocculate into larger clumps that can be extracted by a clarification / filtration process. In some cases an additional chemical known as a polymer is used to assist the alum in the flocculation process.
  • An essential part of the treatment process involves the addition of a disinfecting agent to kill off any remaining bacteria that are not extracted during the filtration process. South Gippsland Water uses chlorine-based chemicals such as chlorine gas or sodium hypochlorite to disinfect the water. The amount of chlorines added is equivalent to less than half a cup in an average -sized backyard swimming pool. If too much chlorine is added the taste and odour of the water may be degraded and so this process is carefully managed.
  • Where water has to travel over long distances, ammonia is added to create chemicals (chloramines) which have superior disinfection characteristics.
  • The addition of treatment chemicals alters the pH of the water. Lime or Soda ash is added as a final step of the treatment process to restore the pH balance.

Can I use the water in my Fish Tank?

Chemicals associated with treating water needs to be neutralised or removed from water before it is use in aquariums or fish ponds.

Some of South Gippsland Water systems use a process called chloramination and the usual means of chemical removal, such as exposure to sunlight or leaving the water to stand for several hours will not work in this instance.

There are several commercial products on the market suitable for the removal of chemicals and South Gippsland Water suggest to check with your vet for the best local options.

 

How do I find out about the water quality in the supply system?

South Gippsland Water publishes monthly water quality testing results and an annual report on water quality. These can be viewed on the Water Quality page.

 

My water leaves a stain when it is boiled

Many of the catchments in South Gippsland contain naturally occurring minerals such as iron, calcium and manganese. When the water is boiled the water will evaporate and leave a precipitation of mineral salts. These minerals may cause scale to accumulate in kettles and hot water services. This is not a concern from a health perspective. For further information, visit the Water Quality page or Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

 

My water is discoloured

Customers served by treated water supplies should receive water that is aesthetically pleasing and consistent in quality. Water may become discoloured from disturbance of sediment in the supply system, or from corroding internal piping. Flushing the pipe can clear sediment and discoloration. South Gippsland Water undertakes a regular flushing program in all of its systems to prevent sediment build up. Private plumbing can also be flushed if water is a problem by running your taps on a high flow rate for a short period. Advice from professional plumbers should also be sought if internal plumbing is thought to be the cause.

 

How do I tell where the cause is?

To determine the source of discolouration try the following steps:

  • Take two white containers (white ice-cream containers are perfect).
  • Turn on the tap closest to the meter and fill one container. Leave the tap running for a few minutes then fill the other container.
  • If the first sample is discoloured and the later sample is clear, the piping between the water main and the meter may be the cause. If there is no difference, the water supply is the likely cause. If this is the case, please contact us – 5682 0444.
  • Apply the same procedure on the tap furthest away from the meter, normally a back yard tap. If the water from the tap closest to the meter is clean and the water from the back yard tap is not, it is likely the internal plumbing is the cause and a plumber will be able to advise of a solution such as pipe replacement.

 

Discoloured water & laundry

If you are doing laundry and notice that the water contains particles or has a taint to it, leave the laundry items in the machine or tub; do not spin or hang out to dry as this will set stains that may have formed. South Gippsland Water can supply you with a product to add to the water to prevent staining – call 1300 851 636.

 

Discoloured Water – Manganese

Often the colour in the water is due to the presence of a naturally-occurring mineral, known as manganese. This mineral is always present however, normally manganese sediments settle to the bottom of the pipe reticulation network where they don’t cause problems for customers.  Changes to pressure and flows within the system i.e. during peak summer water demand or when a water main bursts cause sediments to be stirred up and enter the flow to customers’ taps. Manganese sediments tend to give the water a yellow through to brown or “dirty” appearance.

 

What is Potable Water?

Water that is fit for drinking purposes is termed “potable”. Drinking water must meet a number of strict health and aesthetic quality standards as specified in the Safe Drinking Water Act 2003. The region is serviced with a number of water treatment plants and monitoring is undertaken to ensure this standard is maintained at all times.

 

Who is a “Water Supply By Agreement” customer?

Customers are required to enter into a Water Supply by Agreement if the water supplied to their property does not meet our Customer Code/Charter.  A Water Supply Agreement acknowledges the arrangement between South Gippsland Water and the property owner for the supply of water. It also outlines any service constraints specific to the property, and the commitments of both the property owner and South Gippsland Water.

Water by Agreement Information Sheet

What is water hardness? and what is the hardness of my tap water?

Hardness is a measure of the concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in water.

Table:  Water hardness for SGW supply systems

Supplying water treatment plant (WTP)

 

Towns supplied Water Hardness in mmol/L* Description
Minimum Average Maximum
Devon North WTP Alberton

Devon North

Port Albert

Yarram

0.16 0.24 0.31 Soft
 

Dumbalk WTP

 

Dumbalk 0.48 0.95 1.60 Soft to moderate
 

Fish Creek WTP

 

Fish Creek 0.18 0.35 0.63 Soft
 

Foster WTP

 

Foster 0.17 0.32 0.44 Soft
Lance Creek WTP Cape Paterson

Inverloch

Korumburra

Lance Creek

Loch

Nyora

Poowong

Wattlebank

Wonthaggi

0.18 0.67 0.99 Soft to moderate
Leongatha WTP Koonwarra

Leongatha

0.37 0.61 0.87 Soft to moderate
 

Meeniyan WTP

 

Meeniyan 0.49 0.79 1.30 Soft to moderate
Toora WTP Agnes

Hedley

Port Franklin

Port Welshpool

Toora

Welshpool

0.16 0.32 0.44 Soft

* Based on quarterly hardness monitoring of distribution system entry point sites in period Sept 2016 to Sept 2021

My new dishwasher requires a hardness value to be entered, which should I use?

For new dishwashers, check the manual to confirm that units of mmol/Litre are required (this is usually the case).  If yes, then enter the average value for your town.  If different units are required, then convert average value, as per below.

Hardness can be expressed in several ways (i.e. with different units).  In the table above, hardness values are provided in millimoles per litre of alkaline earth metals (mmol/L).   For conversions see below:

·       To convert to milligrams per litre Calcium Carbonate equivalents (mg/L CaCO3), multiply values in table (above) by 100.

 

·       To convert to German degrees (°dH or dH), multiply values in table by 5.6

 

·       To convert to French degrees (°f), multiply values in table by 10