Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bleached as, bro.

Everyone always mentions using bleach to purify water in emergency situations.  Personally, I'd recommed only using bleach if you have no way to boil water - ie. as a last resort.

Boiling water is by far the easiest way to make water that has been contaminated by microrganisms safe for drinking.  There's not much you can do about chemical contaminants like heavy metals, unless you have some serious equipment, but for making water collected from your roof, from a creek, or the stored water that you forgot about for a few years drinkable, you just can't go past a good boil.

You don't even have to boil it for any length of time.  If you happen to have a thermometer, you could have your water at 70 degrees C for 30 minutes, and that would kill everything.  If you bring the temperature up to 85 degrees, then it's good after just 3 minutes.  So by the time you've actually got the water up to the boiling point, everything was probably dead a minute ago, and the time it takes to get the water back down to a temperature that's drinkable without burning your mouth, you've killed everything several times over.

However, if you haven't got any way to heat your water, you can resort to household bleach. 

BUT - and there's a definite "but" here.

Check the label on your bleach first!

Household bleach is typically between 5 percent and 6 percent chlorine.  Check how strong your particular brand is.   The table below gives the amounts of 5-6% chlorine bleach solution to add to how much water - it's really not a lot!

 Also, not all bleach is just bleach.   There's a massive proliferation of household cleaners out there, and they are not all the same.  Some of them contain dyes, some contain perfumes, and some contain detergents and other additives which can be seriously not good for you, even in the small amounts you'd be using.  Always read the label first, and if it's unclear as to what else has been added to the bleach, don't use it in your water.

Mix your plain unscented bleach with the water thoroughly and then leave it for at least 30 minutes before using (60 minutes if the water is cloudy or very cold)  to let the approriate chemical reactions do their thing.

Another point to note - Cryptosporidium (a rather nasty diarrhea-causing pathogen) is highly resistant to chlorine, so if you are aware that it's a potential contaminant, boiling is always the best option.

Treating Water with a 5-6 Percent Liquid Chlorine Bleach Solution

Volume of Water to be TreatedTreating Clear/Cloudy Water:
Bleach Solution to Add
Treating Cloudy, Very Cold, or Surface Water: Bleach Solution to Add
1 litres 3 drops5 drops
2 litres5 drops10 drops
4 litres1/8 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon
20 litres1/2 teaspoon1 teaspoon
40 litres1 teaspoon2 teaspoons

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where to from here?

On 2 July 2012, we launched the new Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO - the W is silent like in write).  Our continuing mission is to seek out new life and new civilisations... wait... that's the Enterprise...  WREMO's role is to manage Emergency Management services in support of the nine City, District, and Regional Councils of the Wellington region.  A bigger team with bigger impact.

This is pretty cool really, since disasters tend not to stop at the district boundary, and so much of our population lives in one part of the region and works in another. A shared approach gives us the ability to share our resources for the best effect, and get a much bigger bang for our buck.  What had been a somewhat piecemeal approach, now has the ability to put 20 staff to a particular project (instead of two), as well as helping to ensure that things are done more consistently across the region. 

Our new "homes" are in the earthquake-resistant Emergency Management building in Turnbull Street, Thorndon, Wellington, and another purpose built facility in Laings Road, Hutt City.  But staff continue to work throughout the region, operating from Emergency Management Offices at Porirua, Kapiti, and Masterton.

We're divided up into 3 business units:
 - Business & Development - they take care of the administrative, legislative and policy stuff.
 - Operations - they make sure that our Emergency Operations Centres will function during events, our standard operating procedures are all consistent, etc - making sure that we have response capability.
 - And then there's the biggest and most important team - Community Resilience.  99% of the time, we are not responding to an emergency, so it makes sense that most of our work is actually about building community resilience and capability now, so that when an event does happen, it's less likely to exceed the community's ability to cope - prevention and mitigation now, rather than being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
- There are also Area Coordinators looking after Porirua/Kapiti & Wairarapa.

So what does this all mean for Porirua EMO?

I now commute to Wellington everyday, so I guess I can't call myself the Porirua EMO anymore!
There is still a branch office in Porirua - you may want to ring ahead (237-5089) to check if anyone is in before knocking on the door.  Trevor Farmer, the area coordinator, will be splitting his time between the Kapiti & Porirua offices.

And what about the blog?   We've had a look at our social media, and done some consolidation.  I know that this blog usually ranks higher in Google searches for "Porirua emergency" than Porirua City Council's own website does, even though you should always be looking for official information from the official source - eg the council. Since I'm no longer part of Porirua City Council, this blog will no longer be a source for information during an activation - I'm likely to be too busy to update it  as I have a role managing the Porirua EOC during an activation, and once the PCC document management team have done their magic of downloading all the posts (since this was kind of an unofficial PCC site that needs to be retrievable for OIA requests), I'll steal back all the access, and it'll be mine, all mine again!  I'll try to keep posting emergency management stuff periodically, but it'll be on my own time.

To make it easier for our Public Information Management team during an event, I've also closed down the Porirua Emergency Management Facebook page.  Emergency information for Porirua will instead appear on the Porirua City Council Facebook page -!/pages/Porirua-City-Council/304937590918, and the front page of, as well as the Emergency Status page -  Same should probably happen for the other councils. Regional information can be found on the WREMO Facebook page - we hijacked WEMO's -  You'll find me there!

Kerry - no longer the Porirua EMO.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

7.0 quake off coast of Opunake

Well, that certainly made my Tuesday evening a little more exciting than usual!

I would be mightily surprised if you didn't manage to notice that particular shake. lists it as magnitude 7.0, focal depth of 230km (so unlikely to generate a tsunami), and 60km south of Opunake, off the Taranaki Coast.

I've already had some reports from family & colleagues of things falling off shelves in Tawa & the Hutt Valley.  I'm quite chuffed that all my blu-tacking has done exactly what it was supposed to do, and I didn't lose anything but my dignity as I leapt from bed and was under the doorway before my brain caught up.

Please fill in the Felt Quake report in the link above, describe how the shaking felt in your area, and if you had any damage.

And if you are wondering how to better prepare yourself for events like that one, visit

Monday, June 25, 2012

Windy Tuesday too

MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for strong winds on Tuesday morning.  Northwesterly gales are expected to develop tonight, with 120km/h gusts for a time (in the 9 hours from 1am to 10am) on Tuesday morning.

Winds of this strength can affect trees, powerlines, insecure structures and make driving hazardous.

I thought I'd placed things where the wind wasn't going to catch them for Saturday, but I found the lid for my BBQ halfway across the lawn, and my wheelie bin had been blown over.  I might get some bungy cords for keeping the lid on the BBQ, and tie my bin to something.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Windy weekend on the way

MetService has issued a Severe Weather Warning for strong winds in the Wellington area for Saturday.

Northwest winds are expected to rise to gale force durning Saturday - from 3pm Saturday, expect severe gale force gusts of up to 120km/h.  Winds should ease late evening.

Winds of this strength have the ability to damage trees, powerlines and loose structures, and make driving hazardous - especially for high-sided vehicles and motorbikes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where's the water?

Recently we asked residents in Ascot Park, Aotea, Waitangirua and parts of Cannons Creek and Whitby to go easy on water use for a few days, or risk running out.

And here's why!

Stemhead Lane reservoir which usually supplies water to those areas is currently empty, as it is undergoing earthquake strengthening.  A bit of an inconvenience now to help prevent a major inconvenience in an earthquake.

Ascot Park reservoir is now feeding the suburbs normally serviced by the Stemhead Lane reservoir, as well as its usual area.  Initially, the demand on water from that reservoir meant that it was emptying faster than Greater Wellington Regional Council's bulk water network could refill it, so some areas may have experienced a drop in pressure, or loss of water. 

Some of this problem has been relieved by reducing the bulk supply to the other cities slightly, and feeding that extra into Porirua's network, but please continue to reduce your usage during the peak use times of 5pm-8pm and 6am-9am to help maintain the supply.

Work on the reservoir is scheduled to be completed in about a fortnight, so normal service should resume then.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Can workers refuse to work in earthquake-prone buildings?

From an article on

Unions are moving to add quake-safe workplaces to collective agreements - meaning that workers could go on strike if employers refuse to strengthen unsafe buildings.   This will definitely be an interesting development to follow.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Go easy on the water!

Residents in Ascot Park, Aotea, Waitangirua and parts of Cannons Creek and Whitby are being asked to go easy on water use for the next couple of days, or risk running out.

Work to earthquake-prrof Porirua's main reservoir in Stemhead Lane, means that Ascot Park reservoir is temporarily providfing water for the two catchments.  Greater Wellington Regional Council has not been able to supply water quickly enought to keep up with the current demand on the Ascot Park reservoir.

Households in these areas need to be sparing of their water use as water pressure is already dropping.

Try not to use large quantities of water during the peak use times of 5pm-8pm and 6am-9am to avoid a loss of water.

The council is working to restore the supply at Stemhead Lane and hopes to have this up and running by the weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You could join us!

 We want you!

Civil Defence Emergency Management throughout the Wellington Region is being restructured into a single organisation designed to meet the needs of our communities spread across nine cities and districts. To complement the talents of the current team, we are looking for five people for the following roles:

Manager Community Resilience

Disasters happen, quickly, and without compassion. While they can’t be prevented entirely, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the impact and enable the community to be better prepared to respond effectively and recover quickly. This exciting role is to deliver the outcomes arising from our goal to build resilient communities. It involves developing strategies, leading staff, building systems, delivering programmes, and creating and energising networks in the community, all designed to ensure communities have a degree of self sufficiency and able to respond effectively and recover quickly, in an emergency.

(Three) Emergency Management Advisors

We are looking for generalist Emergency Management practitioners who possess outstanding interpersonal skills, are good at building response systems, able to promote self sufficiency in the community and who work well in an operational setting. In addition to the above, we require the following specific attributes of two of the applicants: One is required to manage the team’s technology requirements. Competencies here include website management, managing our radio communications systems, and implementing the recently introduced Emergency Management Information System. Another will be part of the Community Resilience team, working largely in the Kapiti district. Ideally this person should live within or near the Kapiti area.

Administrator (Fixed Term Position for 12 months).

Part of a two person admin unit, the successful applicant will provide administrative support to a team spread across the Wellington region. If you have what it takes to be part of our team doing vital work in our local communities, then apply by clicking the link below.

For further information please contact Grace Nicholls, Human Resources Coordinator, Greater Wellington Regional Council on 04 830 4013.

Applications close 5 pm Tuesday 5 June 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No tsunami threat to New Zealand - Sumatra

An earthquake measuring 8.7 has occurred off the coast of northern Sumatra (a similar location, but slightly lower magnitude, to the devastating Boxing Day quake of 2004).

Based on current information from it's scientific advisors, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has made an initial assessment that this event does not pose a tsunami risk to New Zealand. They will continue to monitor the situation. Only official messages from MCDEM represent the official warning status for New Zealand.