Two people helping each other to store bottled water at ground level in a cupboard. A 200 litre water tank is connected to the downpipe on the left side of a house

Store water for an emergency

Emergency water is the single best thing you can store to be more prepared for a major earthquake. 

What would you do if you had no running water?

The Wellington Region's water supply network crosses earthquake fault lines in multiple places. During a major earthquake, the ground movement is likely to cause severe damage to our water pipes. 
Setting up official drinking water stations could take around 8 days, so you'll need your own supply of emergency water for the first 7 days. Read more about Wellington Water's Community Infrastructure Resilience Programme.  

200-litre water tank

Drinking water can also become unsafe for other reasons, such as contamination caused by flooding or broken pipes. Even if you don't have much space, the more water you can store - the better.   

Your local council sells the 200-litre water tank and kit for approximately $115 (RRP $265). This is a special deal provided by councils.

How much emergency water do I need to store? 

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You will need enough water to last for seven days. You may need to store more if you have unwell people or small children in your family.

Don't forget your pets! You should bear in mind that the average person uses 1,540 litres during a typical week. 

Recommended amount of stored emergency water – 140 litres per person per week (20 litres per person per day). 

This recommended amount should be enough for drinking, food preparation, hand washing and other basic hygiene (brushing teeth and a sponge bath). 

Minimum amount of stored emergency water – 21 litres per person per week (3 litres per person per day) 
The minimum amount is only enough for drinking, cooking and very basic hygiene. 


How to store emergency water 

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  1. Thoroughly clean your containers with hot water (not boiling, as this will destroy the bottle). 
  2. Fill your containers (see below) with cold tap water until it overflows. 
  3. Add a small amount of bleach to help stop bacteria. Add half a teaspoon (2.5ml) of plain, unscented household bleach to 10 litres of water (a household bucket), or five drops to 1 litre of water. See the amount of bleach to add to stored water. *Do not use Janola as it contains detergents which makes it unsuitable for treating drinking water.
  4. Write the date that you filled your containers on each one to help you remember when to check and replace the water. 
  5. Place the lid on tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Avoid direct sunlight. 
  6. Clean and refill the bottles every 12 months. 
  7. Before you can use your stored water, you should treat it by: boiling for 1 minute (or until an electric kettle switches off) or; adding the same amount of bleach again. Stir and leave for 30 minutes before use.

Options for storing water

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Plastic drink bottles 

  • Clean and re-use plastic drink bottles. 
  • Store in a cool, dark place.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Do not use milk bottles - any milk residue will contaminate the water. 

10 - 20-litre containers

  • These containers are available from hardware stores.
  • Store in a cool, dark place.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.

200-litre water tank

Your local council sells the 200-litre water tank and kit for approximately $110 (RRP $265). This is a special deal provided by councils > Learn more 


Larger tanks

Available directly from manufacturers and hardware stores. Water storage tanks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We recommend you check with your local council to see if there are any planning requirements you need to consider before installing a large water tank.

How much bleach to add to stored water

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  • Add bleach and stand for 30 minutes before drinking.
  • Use plain, unscented household bleach.
  • Do not use Janola as it has detergents that makes it unsuitable for treating drinking water.

Water (Litres) : Amount of unscented household bleach (ml)

1 litre : 5 drops (0.25ml)
2 litres : 10 drops (0.5ml)
3 litres : 15 drops (0.75ml)
4 litres : 20 drops (1ml)
5 litres : ¼ teaspoon (1.25ml)
10 litres : ½ teaspoon (2.5ml)
20 litres: 1 teaspoon (5ml)
50 litres: 2 ½ teaspoons (12.5ml)
100 litres: 5 teaspoons (25ml)
200 litres: 10 teaspoons (50ml)

Saving water during water shortage

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Droughts can have negative impacts on our water supply, agriculture, electricity production, and the ecosystem.

Droughts that affect the water supply can lead to water shortages. In cases of severe drought your local council will impose various water restrictions to conserve water and prevent disruptions to the supply. 

Conserving water

You can help avoid the need for water restrictions and mitigate the effects of the drought by reducing water use in your home. Find tips on how to reduce your water use on the Ministry of Health Website