Australia

Water contamination sparks panic buying

Bottled water is flying off the shelves at some of Melbourne’s supermarkets after tap water became contaminated across 88 suburbs. Yarra Valley Water issued a warning on Friday after the last night’s storm caused a power outage and allowed untreated water to enter the supply system.The company took to Twitter and said it was flushing…

Bottled water is flying off the shelves at some of Melbourne’s supermarkets after tap water became contaminated across 88 suburbs.

Yarra Valley Water issued a warning on Friday after the last night’s storm caused a power outage and allowed untreated water to enter the supply system.

The company took to Twitter and said it was flushing the system.

About 250,000 Melbourne households — spread across the capital’s north to southeast areas — were unable to drink tap water as a result and are at risk of a potential gastro-like illness if they do.

Footage captured by Nine News shows supermarket shelves stripped of bottled water.

There have been reports of panic buying water at Coles in Roxburgh Park, Blackburn and Doreen.

Coles confirmed there had been a spike in demand for water in the Melbourne suburbs due to the issue, but shelves were not completely empty.

Yarra Valley Water advised affected residents to boil water as a precaution.

“We’ve become aware of a potential water quality issue affecting 88 suburbs due to electrical damage caused by storms overnight,” it said in a statement.

“The storm damaged a chlorinator, which has resulted in untreated water entering the system.”

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton had the same advice.

“We do ask households to bring their water to a rolling boil and to use it for all consumption,” he said.

“Whether you’re drinking it, using it for brushing teeth, making ice, just make sure that that water is boiled to a rolling boil before it is used and obviously let it cool down to make it safe for kids as well.

“The Silvan Reservoir is back up in terms of its disinfection procedures but there will be some water in the system that needs to move through, so that will be updated as soon as that boiled water advisory can be lifted.”

Yarra Valley Water said it was supplying emergency drinking water to those who needed it. If you have special needs and require help, phone 132 762.

Three people died, including a four-year-old boy, in the storm overnight and a mass clean-up under way.

The State Emergency Service received almost 2000 calls for help and 95,000 residents lost power.

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