Islandwide bacterial contamination in the water; Public told to boil all drinking water until further notice

The island woke up this morning to a public notice from the Directors of the Utilities, Health, and Environment advising to boil all drinking water from the island’s water supply systems.

Director of Utilities Clinton Chapman told BCN News that the tests done in December showed elevated levels of coliform in the water which indicates the presence of bacteria.

“Tests showed unacceptable levels of contamination in some components on our systems around the island.”

The public notice states that “As a precautionary measure, the public is advised to boil drinking water from all of the village systems”.

People are also reminded that there are Ultraviolet UV-treated water outlets located at the Niue High School, Niue Primary School, Commercial Centre (pictured) and the Niue Foou Hospital. The public may fill their water containers at these Ultraviolet treated water outlets.

However, authorities are cautioning over the effectiveness of other domestic water filter systems.

“We cannot guarantee the ability of any domestic water filters to remove harmful bacteria. We advise you to boil water even if these are in place”

It’s understood that some households already have UV treatment systems and some ice-making outlets have UV systems installed but the public should enquire first if the ice is made from UV-treated water before purchasing.

The message now is to boil all drinking water until further notice while they are seeking funding to procure and install UV treatment systems in other villages.

Authorities want to assure the public of their testing regime saying that the government follows the WHO standards for testing water.

“Our testing thresholds are based on WHO standards, which are more stringent than some water utilities”, says Clinton Chapman.

Meanwhile, the public should boil drinking water by bringing it to a vigorous, rolling boil, for example with an electric kettle. Allow the water to cool before use.

The public notice advises that “It is advisable to fill a container with the boiled water, cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place.

Great care should be taken with boiled water to avoid burns and scalds. It is important to remember that water from the hot tap is not safe to drink.”

For now, the message is not to drink from the tap until further notice.

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