A tropical cyclone has the potential to cause damage to drinking water and wastewater facilities due to heavy rainfall, flooding, coastal storm surge and high winds.
Typical impacts that may lead to service interruptions include, but are not limited to:
- Pipe breaks due to washouts, up-rooted trees etc, which could result in wastewater overflows or low or no water pressure throughout the service area
Loss of power and communication infrastructure due to high winds
- Restricted access to water and wastewater treatment facilities and water and wastewater networks due to debris and flood waters
- Loss of water quality testing capability during the cyclone as laboratories may be closed/damaged and in regional areas samples may not be able to be transported due to road or airport closures
While the Water Corporation takes every precaution to prepare its facilities and people for a cyclone, it cannot guarantee that your water and wastewater services will continue to work throughout and in the aftermath of a cyclone.
How should I prepare for a cyclone?
When warnings are issued for cyclones it’s time to complete final home preparations and this includes some important considerations for water and wastewater.
You should start to fill your emergency containers with water. Containers for treated water should, if possible:
- be clean
- have covers
- be stored above ground
be in a cool place
- be cleaned periodically
be mosquito proof
On average each person requires at least 20 litres of water per day for drinking, washing and cooking. At least 2.5 of the 20 litres is required for drinking.
We also encourage you to turn off your reticulation / sprinkler systems, which will help to ensure water storages for your area are kept for drinking and hygiene purposes and not for watering gardens.
If you are asked to evacuate your home, it is important to turn off your water supply using the stopcock located on your water meter. This will ensure your property is isolated from the water supply.
If a warning is issued for flood it’s important to sandbag internal drains and toilets to prevent wastewater backflow. Sandbags are usually available from your local government authority.
What happens if disaster strikes?
If disaster strikes, it is possible that the normal supply of water will be affected.
When the safety of the normal water supply cannot be guaranteed, the Department of Health and Water Corporation may issue advice to boil or treat it with chemicals prior to use.
This information is normally given out:
on the radio
- on television
- on emergency management websites
- via printed material.
Where clean drinking water is not immediately available it is possible to obtain limited amounts of safe drinking water by:
- draining your hot water tank
- melting ice cubes you have in the freezer
For more information about treating water visit the Healthy WA website.
Boil water alerts
Sometimes following a cyclone, a boil water alert is issued for areas connected to mains scheme water because the mains water may be unsafe to drink or cook with.
If a boil water alert has been issued, it is essential you follow this warning to prevent illness.
To prepare water for drinking and food preparation, you should heat the water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute using a stove or kettle and then allow it to cool. This will help to kill any bacteria.
Be sure to keep children clear from any boiling water until the water has cooled down to room temperature.
Once it has cooled it should be placed in the fridge in a clean container with a lid.
Under no circumstances should you drink or cook with water that has not been boiled until the alert is lifted.
Alternatively you can use bottled water.
Cooled boiled or bottled water should be used for:
- washing raw foods (such as seafood or salads)
- making ice
- cleaning teeth
- your pet’s drinking water.
If a boil water alert has been issued:
- dishes should be washed in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher
- children should take bottled or cooled boiled water to school.
The Department of Health and Water Corporation will provide updates.
When the boil water alert is lifted, you will need to follow the Department of Health and Water Corporation’s instructions for flushing the household water pipes. For more information visit the Healthy WA website.
Wastewater overflows and floodwaters
- wastewater (also referred to as sewage) comes from kitchen sinks, showers, washing machines and toilets
- Water Corporation’s pipes collect wastewater from homes and businesses and then it is pumped to treatment plants
- if there is a loss of power wastewater cannot be pumped to the treatment plants and it may start to overflow from pump stations and manholes in the street where it mixes with flood water
- it is important for people not to go into flood water as it is dangerous and will contain various contaminants.
During a cyclone drains can become dangerous because:
- water can rise quickly and unexpectedly, even when it's not raining in the immediate area
- flowing water is powerful and can knock people over,even when it's shallow
- slow moving flows can quickly become raging torrents
- drains may contain hidden dangers such as slopes or rocks which are hard to see when it rains.
For your safety, it is important to keep away from stormwater drains when it rains. There is the potential for flowing stormwater to knock pets and small children off their feet, and they can become caught in drains.
If a pet or child does become caught in a drain it could cost them their life or endanger others who rescue them. Conditions can become very hazardous without warning.
The drainage system is an essential part of living in an urban area but when it rains they can become dangerous – so please don’t let your children and pets play near them.
Cyclone preparation information sheet (PDF - 146KB)