The North Coast Public Health Unit is warning that recent heavy rainfall and local flooding has increased the risk of contaminated water in rivers and creeks, which could contain disease-causing micro-organisms, chemicals or algal blooms.
Residents are urged to ensure they are aware of the quality of the water source they are using.
‘Water from farm dams, rivers and creeks should not be used for drinking or cooking without appropriate treatment, particularly following heavy rainfall as it often increases contamination,’ Kerryn Lawrence, senior environmental health officer, said.
‘This water may be acceptable for non-potable uses such as washing clothes, irrigation, gardening, toilet-flushing, but we recommend that water used for bathing is at least disinfected before use,’ she added.
‘It is very important to ensure that the water your family drinks is safe.’
People are urged to disinfect water taken from watercourses with chlorine and use suitable filtration equipment (especially if blue-green algae is present). They should also check for upstream contamination, fence off drinking water sources from livestock and ensure that their septic tank is not leaking into their watercourse.
Further information on water quality and treatment is available in NSW Health’s Private Water Supply Guidelines:
The department recommends rainwater tank water for drinking in preference from water drawn from creeks and dams. Providing the rainwater is clear, has little taste or smell and the roof, gutters and tanks are well maintained, it is probably safe and unlikely to cause any illness for most users.
To obtain a rainwater tanks brochure visit: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/publichealth/environment/water/rainwater.asp.