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Tank water changes due to East Gippsland and North East Victoria fires

  • Smoke from bushfires in East Gippsland and North East Victoria is affecting air and drinking water quality across Victoria, including in Cardinia Shire.
  • A number of residents have reported a “smoke taste” in water from rainwater tanks. This is due to smoke particles settling on roofs, which have then been washed into tanks with the recent rain.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services advises that water tainted by smoke but otherwise unaffected is unlikely to be a health concern.
  • If you are concerned about the taste of your rainwater, use bottled water for drinking and continue to use your rainwater for other uses, such as irrigation.
  • If there is ash and debris on your roof and in gutters, our Environmental Health Team recommends that you disconnect downpipes from your water tank before future rain events to prevent more materials being washed into the tank.
  • If your tank needs to be cleaned, get a professional tank cleaner. Never enter a tank. Tanks are confined spaces and are very dangerous; the risks include loss of consciousness, asphyxiation and death.
  • Once the tank has been professionally drained and cleaned, refill with water from a source known to be safe for drinking after making sure the tank won’t be re-contaminated again. As the fires are predicted to burn for some time, it is recommended that you organise for tanks to be cleaned and refilled when you are confident the supply won't be re-contaminated.

In future, you might consider installing a ‘first flush diverter’, to divert the first pass of water from entering rainwater tanks. This enables roofs and gutters to be rinsed before water goes into the drinking supply.

For more information on health matters relating to the Victorian bushfires, including concerns about private drinking water supplies, visit the VicHealth website