Click to find out the latest Civil Defence emergency status. Finding water in an emergency

This page has information on where to find water in an emergency.

Once you’ve run out of stored water, you’ll need to get hold of more.  Here are a few ideas:

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.


Diagram of household water system


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.

Do not collect water from 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.

Purchase and install a water storage tank.

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.

Find out how to make contaminated water safe to use

Links to more emergency information

Porirua’s current emergency status - What's happening now? - The WREMO website for emergency updates and preparedness information

Wellington Region Emergency Management Office Facebook page – Learn how you and your family can get ready and get through – Get the latest information on civil defence emergencies in New Zealand – Find out about recent earthquakes in New Zealand – The latest on New Zealand weather

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