Health authorities are encouraging households with rainwater tanks to inspect them daily and where needed take action to treat the water.
It comes in the wake of Elong woman Louise Hennessy alerting the community after she found a bunch of dead mice in her tank's strainer on Thursday after rain.
The Daily Liberal contacted Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) about the issue as community members continue to report high mouse numbers in the region.
The LHD offered advice to keep households safe.
"While there are currently no known cases of illness associated with mice in rainwater tanks, homes using tank water should maintain the quality of drinking water through daily inspections and, where needed, boiling water or undertaking tank disinfection," an LHD spokesperson said.
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Tank maintenance should include routine inspections of the tank, catchment system, roof, gutters and water inlet, the LHD advises.
Routine maintenance is best carried out before heavy rain is expected, or every three to four months, and should include removing leaves and debris from roofs and gutters, and cutting back any branches overhanging the roof, it says.
All appropriate safety measures should be used when conducting routine maintenance.
"Where mice are known to be in the area in large numbers, tank owners should consider inspecting their rainwater tank daily to remove any dead mice in the catchment, paying particular attention to screens used to stop debris from entering the tank," the spokesperson said.
The LHD further advises:
- Appropriate personal protective equipment should be used when disposing of dead mice.
- If a tank owner has concerns about their tank water quality, water can be disinfected by bringing water to a rolling boil, then allowed to cool prior to drinking.
- A kettle with an automatic shut off can do this.
- A properly maintained rainwater tank can provide good quality drinking water.
- Providing the rainwater is clear, has little taste or smell and is from a well-maintained water catchment system.
- Such a system is probably safe and unlikely to cause any illness for most users.
- People who feel ill for any reason should contact their GP, and let them know if there is any concern that there may have been drinking from a contaminated rainwater source.
- For more information please contact your local council environmental health officer or the Western NSW Public Health Unit Environmental Health Team on 02 6809 8979.
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