Residents in the Hawke's Bay coastal town of Waimarama are being told to boil their water before drinking it, after water tests today showed low levels of E. coli in the public supply.

Residents who take their water from the Hastings District Council town supply should boil the water before using it for drinking, cleaning teeth, making ice, washing dishes and preparing food, until further notice, said council's asset manager Craig Thew.

"Boiling water in an electric kettle kills bacteria and other organisms in it. The kettle only needs to be boiled once for one minute. Please follow this advice to avoid gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) and other serious illnesses.

"If you are using a saucepan to boil the water up, then heating it to a rolling boil will be sufficient, before taking it off the heat and allowing to cool naturally."

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Council staff are working to discover the source of the contamination and will keep the residents informed of progress.