Thousands of residents in the city of Melbourne’s outer east have been told not to drink their tap water, even after it is boiled, due to contamination.
The Department of Health issued an urgent warning early Wednesday morning advising people who live, work or are in Kallista, Sherbrooke or The Patch not to drink tap water until further notice. The warning is expected to be in place for at least three days.
An equipment failure caused the water contamination at Yarra Valley Water drinking water tank after recent severe winter weather felled trees, ravaged homes and knocked out power across swaths of the states.
Residents in the affected suburbs have been instructed not to use the tap water for drinking, preparing beverages, washing and preparing food, preparing baby formula, brushing teeth or making ice.
“Boiling water will not remove any potential contaminants,” a notice issued by Yarra Valley Water on Wednesday said, “Special care should be taken to not ingest the water when bathing or showering.”
Emergency drinking water will be available at The Patch Hall and The Kallista Public Hall. People have also been told to bring their own containers (bottles, pots, kettles) to fill up from the tankers.
Those who have ingested the water and feel unwell are asked to contact their GP, and anyone with special needs can contact Yarra Valley Water on 13 2762.
The warning comes after wild storms battered Victoria last week, killing two people and leaving more than 300,000 homes without power at the peak of the emergency.
About 17,000 homes in the eastern area are still engulfed by blackouts for a sixth day, with many remaining in darkness for at least another three days. Olinda, Monbulk, Croydon, Mr Evelyn, Mt Dandenong and parts of Lilydale, Gippsland and Belgrave are among the worst-hit areas.
Emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp said a dozen towns remain unable to dial triple zero, but Red Cross volunteers are knocking on doors to make sure people can access information.
“With those particular communities, they might be isolated in terms of some telecommunications, but they’re not geographically isolated so people can get in and out,” he told reporters.
“Rest assured everything’s being done to ensure that those people get back on power as soon as possible.”
Crisp commented after severe floods forced an evacuation at the Yallourn Power Station, which provides electricity to 22 percent of Victoria, on Sunday.
Rising floodwaters have also disrupted millions of local spiders, which were seen trying to get to higher ground, resulting in waves of spiderwebs blanketing a regional Victorian town.
Acting Premier James Merlino announced on Sunday the disaster relief payments of up to $42,000 to assist homes and businesses that have suffered damage from floods and storms.
“Whether it’s support for accomodation, major repairs at home, we want to get people back in their homes as quickly as possible,” Merlino said.
“We observed through the helicopter the extent of the damage. What was quite evident is whilst it’s receding now, it still is quite deep in parts, and there’s many, many areas that have been quite severely impacted.”