Water safety and contamination. Keeping your supply safe.
Safe water is vital for good health.
Water used for drinking, teeth cleaning, hand washing, bathing, showering, food preparation and cooking needs to be free from harmful germs and chemicals. So does drinking water for stock and pets.
Water for washing clothes, toilet flushing and general cleaning should be clear to prevent staining.
If your water comes from a mains supply, your water safety is monitored by your local authority. If your water comes from a water collection tank, it is up to you to keep your water safe.
Tank water may be collected from:
Water supplies from all of these sources can become unsafe. For example:
If you are unsure about the quality of your water, have it tested in a laboratory.
Water contamination can cause illness (diarrhoea and vomiting) which can be particularly dangerous for infants, very old people or people with damage immune systems.
Contaminants of a collection tank water supply may be caused by:
Cover the tank to prevent animals, birds and other matter from entering.
Most tanks need cleaning every six to twelve months. Flush the tank out with water using a broom to push sludge out through the scour valve. After cleaning, disinfect the tank using about 167 ml (about 2/3rds of a cup) of household bleach per 1000 litres of water.
Run the mixture through all your household water pipes and taps until it is gone. Then refill the cleaned tank with water for household use.
If you have a water filter (point of use device) it needs regular maintenance too.
A water filter helps prevent contamination of your household water. It can be used to treat all household water and placed where all water entering the house passes through it, or can be used for just one tap. It should be placed where you can get at it for cleaning.
A water filter can:
Note: Most filters will only do one or two of these. It is important to get the appropriate filter for your needs.
Untreated water and water from mixed sources, is often corrosive so plastic pipes should be used to carry cold water.
A backflow prevention device stops contaminated water from flowing back into the home supply. It is needed on:
If you are unsure about the safety of your drinking water supply, you can disinfect some by:
If you are concerned about your water supply contact a Health Protection Officer at your local public health service or an Environmental Health Officer at your local Council. They will recommend a local water testing laboratory. Remember, a master plumber can advise on all aspects of a water supply system.
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