Water storage

Water is necessary for survival. You need water for drinking, cleaning, hygiene and preparing food for seven days.

You need water for survival

The water that comes out of your tap in Porirua comes from the Te Marua storage lakes north of Upper Hutt. It gets pumped up and over Haywards Hill before flowing to our reservoirs, and on down to you.

In a big event, like an earthquake, this network may be severely damaged. We’ll try to preserve the water in the reservoirs by shutting down the supply. This means that there will be no supply of water directly to your house or workplace, so you need to have some stored.

How much water should I store?

Store a minimum of 20 litres for each person in your household

Think about all the things you use water for on a day-to-day basis, and which one of these you would like to do after an emergency. Most people in the Wellington Region use 220L per day.  As a general rule, you need:

  • 3L per person per day for a week is the minimum you need for drinking and food preparation. 
  • Up to 20L per person per day for a week will allow you to eat, drink, wash dishes and some clothes, as well as washing yourself.
  • Any more than this will allow you to do some of the things we take for granted on a daily basis.

Remember, once you run out of water in your home, you will either need to walk to collect more, and it could be a reasonable distance, or hope that it rains.

  • Save plastic soft drink or juice bottles. Don’t use milk containers as it is practically impossible to remove the milk residue. You can also buy large emergency water containers from the council office, hardware stores and catering suppliers.
  • Wash the bottle thoroughly in hot water and detergent.
  • Fill the bottle with cold tap water until it overflows.
  • Screw the lid on tightly.
  • Put it in a cool, dark place - in a cupboard, in the garage, the shed, under the bed - anywhere you can find room! Keeping it in the dark means that things are less likely to grow in your water, and the plastic will last longer.
  • Storing some in the freezer means you can use the ice to cool food in the fridge in the event of a power cut, or put it in the chilly bin when you go out for a picnic, to keep things cold and have an ice-cold drink!
  • Replace the water every 12 months. Since our tap water is chlorinated, it will stay clean for a long time. If you have used filtered water, water from an aquifer (like the one in Petone), or rainwater, you may have to check it more often - it doesn’t have the chlorine to keep it clean.

If you are uncertain about how clean the water is, treat or boil it before use.

Hot water cylinder and header tank

Your hot water cylinder and header tank can be a great source of clean water, so make sure your header tank in the ceiling is secured, and your hot water cylinder is strapped into place.

To save this water after a damaging event:

  • Shut off your water supply at the toby-box outside your home.  This will stop any contaminated water from broken pipes on the street getting into your plumbing.  Find your toby-box now, it’s usually out by the street.  If you can’t find yours, ring the council, and they’ll send someone out to identify it for you.
  • If you can see damage to the pipeline between the toby-box and your plumbing system, clamp the pipe with a G-clamp, or a set of vice-grips.  Or you can bend the pipe 180 degrees to stop the leak.
  • Get the water out by opening the drain valve at the bottom of the hot water cylinder and collecting it from the external drainage point.
  • Remember to turn off the electricity if you drain the hot water cylinder. This will prevent the element from burning out which could cause a fire.

Emergency Management - Finding Water in Emergency

Toilet cistern (not the bowl!)

You can use the water from the cistern above the toilet, as long as you haven’t added chemicals to disinfect or make your toilet smell better.  Obviously, don’t use the water from the toilet bowl.  It’s bad enough that the dog tries to drink from it!

Swimming pools

You can use swimming pool water for cleaning purposes.  Heat up a couple of potfuls and use it to do dishes, or wash clothes etc.

Streams or springs

There are quite a few natural sources of water around Porirua.  Collect stream water from where it comes out of bush areas, as close to its source as possible.  Boil all water from natural sources.

Do not collect drinking water from 

  • Porirua Stream – it is contaminated with heavy metals that cannot be made safe by boiling the water.
  • Mitchell Stream below the landfill – it is contaminated with leachate from the tip.

Rain water

Collect rain water from your roof by disconnecting one of the downspouts and collecting from the roof guttering.  Or you can use a plastic sheet or tarpaulin to collect rainwater.

Untreated water will make you sick

Remember that water that is not clean may make you sick, or could even kill you. In a disaster, with little or no medical attention available, you need to remain as healthy as possible.

Drinking water that isn’t clean can make you very sick and even kill you.  Treat any water that you are going to put in your mouth (including brushing your teeth), and the water you use to wash your hands.

Here are several ways you can make water safe to drink.

Boiling

  • Boiling water is the easiest way to make water safe to drink.  It is the most effective way of killing micro-organisms including disease-causing bacteria, viruses, protozoans and parasites.
  • You don’t need any special equipment, training or chemicals.  All you need is a source of heat and something to heat your water in.
  • In the time it takes the water to reach boiling point at 100°, all the bugs which could make you sick will be killed.
  • If you don't have a thermometer to measure the temperature, all you need to do is get the water to a rolling boil, and it will have been hot enough to destroy the organisms for quite some time.

Chemical treatment

  • You can buy water purification tablets at all good camping stores.  Follow the instructions on the packets so you know how much water will be purified by each tablet.
  • Half a teaspoon (or 2 1/2mls) of plain unscented household bleach can be added per 10 litres of clear water, and left for 30 to 60 minutes – leave the lid off.  Do not use bleaches that contain added scent or perfume, surfactants or other additives - they can make people sick.

Filtering

While this system isn’t the best way to make water safe, if you have no other options it is better than nothing. Once this system is up and running, remember to change the sand or dirt regularly.

  • Take a 20-30 litre bucket and drill or punch a series of small holes in the bottom.
  • Place several layers of cloth on the bottom of the bucket (this can be anything from denim to an old table cloth).
  • Add a thick layer of sand (preferred) or loose dirt. This will be the main filter, so it needs to fill at least half the bucket.
  • Add another few layers of cloth, weighted down with a few larger rocks.
  • Your home-made filter should be several centimetres below the top of the bucket.
  • Place another bucket under your filter bucket to catch the filtered water.
  • Pour the water into the top of your filter bucket. Gravity works to filter the water through the cloth and sand to drip out at the bottom into another bucket. If the water is cloudy or full of sediment, simply let it settle for a while and draw the cleaner water off the top.

Another filtering option is to invest in a water filter such as a Life Straw. These can be found in some camping shops or online. 


Buy a rainwater tank or water container

You can buy rain water tanks and 10L water containers at our Customer Services Centre on 16 Cobham Court, Porirua.

The 200 litre tank which comes with fittings costs $105. 

Rainwater tank

The 10L PET water containers are just $5 each.

Water containers