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Summer at the bach? Run the water when you arrive

21 December 2022
legionella health & safety lead in drinking water

The good old Kiwi bach is a summer favourite—whether you’re staying in your own or you’ve booked a holiday home. But don’t let unhealthy water spoil your fun.

Be aware, if a property has stood empty for a while, water will have stagnated in the plumbing pipes and fittings.

Be sure to turn on all the taps and showerheads and give the system a thorough flush as soon as you arrive, advises Master Plumbers CEO Greg Wallace.

“Apart from stagnant water not tasting very good, there are a few important health reasons for taking this measure,” he says.

“The first is that the water may contain Legionella, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a potentially deadly type of pneumonia.

“Legionella thrives in stagnant water. By flushing the water before you drink or take a shower, you’ll reduce the risk of drinking or inhaling waterborne droplets that could contain this nasty bacteria.”

The second reason for giving the taps a good flush on arrival is to remove lead from your drinking water, says Wallace.

Taps have traditionally been made with brass barrels containing lead, and this can be dissolved in water at potentially harmful levels if it’s been sitting overnight or longer in the tap.

Lead is a neurotoxin. There is no safe level of exposure, and it’s particularly damaging to children.

“The Ministry of Health recommends flushing a glass full of water from your drinking water tap each morning before use to avoid drinking lead and other heavy metals that may have entered your water supply,” says Wallace.

The New Zealand tapware standard currently allows up to 4.5 percent of lead content in tapware.

Master Plumbers welcomes the recent government decision for all new drinking water plumbing products on sale in New Zealand to have no more than 0.25 percent lead content (effectively ‘lead free’) by 2025, bringing us in line with Australia.

Master Plumbers has advocated long and hard for this to happen.

“I look forward to the day when everyone in New Zealand can enjoy a glass of water from the tap without wondering if they’re drinking dangerous amounts of lead,” says Wallace.

“In the meantime, enjoy your summer at the bach—and don’t forget to flush the water when you arrive!”

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