Melbourne’s water supply contaminated after deadly storms

28 August 2020

People in more than 80 Melbourne suburbs have been told to boil their drinking water after deadly storms that swept across the city also contaminated the water supply.

Thousands of Melburnians remained without power well into Friday after the wild weather, which left three people dead – including a four-year-old boy.

The boy suffered critical injuries after being crushed by a tree in suburban Blackburn South on Thursday night. He was rushed to hospital but later died.

The others to be killed were a 59-year-old man, who died after a falling tree smashed onto his car in Melbourne’s east, and a passenger in a ute travelling on the Maroondah Highway, north-east of the city.

The 36-year-old woman was killed when a tree fell onto the ute. The 24-year-old male driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The storms moved across Victoria from the south late on Thursday afternoon. They crossed Melbourne and headed for north-eastern Victoria from late in the afternoon into the night.

Damage caused by the storms led to undisinfected water from Silvan Dam entering the water supply system.

Yarra Valley Water has issued a contaminated water notice for more 88 Melbourne suburbs on Friday. About 250,000 households have been told to boil their tap water before drinking.

State Emergency Service deputy chief officer Dave Barker told ABC Radio Melbourne it had been “a challenging 18-hour period”.

Mr Barker said suburbs in eastern Melbourne were some of the hardest hit.

“The storm made its way throughout the coastal areas of Victoria, so many parts into Gippsland are impacted,” he said.

Mr Barker said the priority was to move trees off power lines that had fallen across roads.

More than 95,000 properties suffered power outages when the storm hit.

Wind gusts as high as 124km/h were recorded at Mount Gellibrand, east of Colac in southern Victoria, and 100km/h at Port Fairy, on the state’s south-west coast.

Ausnet said 52,000 customers remained without power in Victoria’s east, and 600 Powercor customers, mostly in the south-west in the Otway Ranges and towards Colac, were also without power.

In the 24 hours to 8.30am, the SES had received more than 2100 calls for help.

Felled trees made up 85 per cent of the calls and 10 per cent were related to building damage.

The worst-affected areas include Mount Evelyn (58 calls), Belgrave (55), Croydon (45), Lilydale (34) and Mount Waverley (30).

The SES urged drivers, particularly in Melbourne’s east and the Yarra Valley, to drive slowly in the conditions and be mindful of fallen branches and debris.

-with agencies

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