Don’t spoil your holidays through water borne illnesses

20 December 2022

New Zealanders are being urged to check to ensure that their water is safe to drink this summer.

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says as we head off on our holidays, it’s important to take precautions to ensure that the water at our destination won't cause sickness.

She says that many small and rural communities don’t have the resources to ensure the same level of drinking water quality and safety as in most of our larger urban areas – and this includes council supplied water.

“We know that two out of every five people in Aotearoa New Zealand are supplied with water that does not meet drinking water standards or is not knowingly safe to drink.

“It’s important to take precautions such as boiling or treating water before drinking if there is any doubt about its safety.

“When a supplier issues a boil water notice, it means that E.coli has been discovered and the water has been contaminated, typically by faecal matter. Unfortunately, these are not infrequent occurrences.”

In its first report, the new water services regulator, Taumata Arowai, found that over a six week period (from 15 Nov – 31 December 2021), there were 27 boil water notices issued.

She says many baches, cribs and camping sites in holiday destinations rely on tank water which can easily become contaminated by vermin or bird droppings.

The other potential danger is when swimming at the beaches, lakes or rivers. It may not be safe for swimming for two to three days following rain.

“This is because heavy rain can cause stormwater runoff and sewage overflows, turning swimming spots into E.coli-risk zones.“

If it has been raining heavily, check with your local council or with the LAWA website which has the latest information on water quality at popular swimming sites around the country.

You can also check the safeswim website for information on Auckland and Northland beaches.

“In the end we want everyone to have a safe, enjoyable and relaxing summer break and a few precautions will help ensure a happy holiday this season.”