Nelson Marlborough Health News and Notices

Updated: Public Health Messages following the recent earthquakes in Nelson and Marlborough


Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service wishes to advise Nelson Marlborough residents of the following public health messages. 

Water Supplies

Boil drinking water if the supply has been damaged and/or boil water notices issued. There has been damage to the Seddon and Ward supplies.

Both Seddon and Ward supplies are on permanent boil-water-notices, however earthquake damage may have increased the risk of biological contamination at this time.

Private reticulated water supplies and individual household supplies may also have been compromised by earthquake damage and so it may be appropriate to boil water as a precautionary measure until normal treatment and/or supply has been resumed.

  • Bringing water to the boil is sufficient to kill bugs. Boil or treat all water from taps and tankers before drinking, brushing teeth or using in food preparation
  • Water needs to be boiled even if the smell or taste of chlorine is present
  • If you cannot boil water, treat it by adding 1 teaspoon of plain (non scented)  household bleach per 10 litres of water and leave for 30 minutes
  • Employers should also make sure their staff are only consuming boiled or bottled water at work.

Wash your hands regularly

Wash your hands, or use sanitizer, after toileting and before and after eating or preparing food.

Sewage - Avoid contact with sewage

If there has been damage to sewerage systems, take care to avoid contamination. Protective clothing, gloves and good hand washing are important if you are dealing with sewage leaks.

Damage has been reported to septic tanks in the Seddon Ward area.

No damage has been reported to council operated sewage systems in Nelson Tasman and Marlborough.

Disposing of sewage

If you have been advised not to use your toilet, or you have no running water:

Toilet systems are likely to be affected by a disaster through broken pipes, flooding of the sewerage system, or breakdown of the pumping machinery.
Human waste can spread disease.

During an emergency

You may need a makeshift toilet if your toilet cannot be used. Avoid overflows, flooding or ponding caused by broken sewerage lines, and contact your local council, public health unit or civil defence sector post for advice on diverting overflowing sewerage.

How to make a temporary toilet

  • If your toilet is still intact, put a strong plastic bag under your toilet seat to collect waste, alternatively line a bucket or rubbish bin with a strong, leak-proof plastic bag.
  • Put half a cup of liquid bleach in the bag.
  • Make a seat from two planks of wood or use a toilet seat on top of the container.
  • Keep the bin completely covered when not in use, to prevent attracting flies.
  • Tie the top of the bag firmly when full and place it inside another bag.
  • Dig a hole well away from the vegetable garden and downhill from any water source and bury the bag.
  • Make sure the bag is well covered with dirt.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser after going to the toilet or handling human waste.

How to make a long-drop toilet**

  • Dig a hole up to one metre deep well away from the vegetable garden and any water source.
  • Make a seat out of planks of wood.
  • Cover the waste properly with dirt after each use.
  • Throw in a little garden lime, insecticide or disinfectant to reduce smells and flies.
  • Use the long-drop until it is full to within 300mm of ground level.
  • Cover completely with soil and dig a new long-drop.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser after going to the toilet or handling human waste.

**From the Ministry of Health resource “Protecting Your Health in an Emergency”.

Take care with food

If there have been extended power cuts, use chilled food first, then frozen, then canned, and lastly packaged food.

If unsure about the safety of food due to lack of chilled or frozen storage do not eat it.

Where to get medical help

  • If you need medical assistance contact your GP or the afterhours service in the first instance. If it’s an emergency dial 111.
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