Our region uses more than 200 million litres of water per day! The water we get from our taps comes through a network of pipes under our feet. So what happens if these pipes break? If they break in an earthquake, they could take months to repair. Do you have enough water stored? WREMO will be doing a series of articles on being prepared, today is all about water – drinking water in particular.

Water tanks and bottled water have been flying off the shelves since November 14th, because everyone knows how important it is that we have a store of water. And it’s easy to do. Here are some tips on how to do this. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time!

A cheap and easy way to store water is to fill bottles every time you have juice or soft drink. Rinse them thoroughly, and fill them to the top. Do not use milk bottles because milk proteins are hard to remove and can promote bacterial growth. The size of your home or section may also determine the size bottles you store – lots of 2 litre or 10 litre bottles, or a large 200 litre tank.

Another option is to buy bottled water. This is a convenient option as you just need to get it home from the shops and put it away somewhere.

Whatever method you go with, think about how you will access the water after an emergency, and how easy it will be to use. Big bottles are convenient to fill, but can be heavy to move around, and some of them can be difficult to open and pour water from. Small bottles are easy to carry around, but you need more of them. A tank that collects rain water is a great option, if you have the space to store it on – and remember that like any large or heavy object, it would need to be secured to prevent movement during an earthquake. Getting the water from the tank inside is easy if you have a smaller clean jug or pot.

Set yourself a challenge -  using just your emergency water (but don’t forget to refill it!). You’ll soon figure out what works for you.


  • Store water now – at least 20 litres drinking per person to last a week. If you want to wash, you’ll need more
  • You’ll need to store more water if your family includes young children, a person with high medical needs, or pets
  • Swimming pool water should only be used for cleaning.

Before you drink your emergency water, make sure it’s safe:

  • For brought water or tap water – hold it up to the light, if it is clear with nothing floating it’s fine.
  • For water from another source, boil it (use a full jug with an automatic switch off or boil for 1 minute by other means) or disinfect it with plain, unperfumed household bleach (1/2 teaspoon to 10 litres).

If you have any issues on emergency preparedness you’d like discussed in this column, email wremo@gw.govt.nz

Released 16 December 2016
Last modified: 
7 February 2017