Frequently Asked Questions: Boil Water Notice
Boil Water Notice – What Does It Mean?
Water main breaks are a common occurrence in any public water system resulting in temporary service interruption. Although water may be off only for a short period of time, most waterline breaks require a precautionary "Boil Water" notice to all users impacted by the break.
What triggers a precautionary "Boil Water" notice?
These notices are required by the State Department of Health when confirmatory samples indicate the presence of fecal, E. coli, or waterborne pathogens or when a line break occurs, and the system has zero or negative pressure. Additionally, precautionary "Boil Water" notices may be issued when routine water samples indicate low disinfection residual or when a main break causes water pressure to drop below 20 psi (pounds per square inch). All these types of events require water utilities to issue precautionary "Boil Water" notices.
Does this mean my water is unsafe?
No. The State Department of Health’s Guidelines require the issuance of precautionary "Boil Water" notices. This does not always mean the drinking water is contaminated. The notice recommends that customers bring their water to a rolling boil for one minute before use or consumption. Bottled water can be used instead.
Can I wash dishes, take a shower and do laundry?
Precautionary "Boil Water" notices advise customers to boil all water used for drinking, cooking, washing hands, making ice, cooking surfaces, raw foods, rinsing foods, preparing other drinks like baby bottles, kool-aid, tea, frozen juices etc., brushing teeth or washing dishes. The precaution mainly applies to ingesting the water (bring water to a “rolling boil” for 1 minute), so taking a shower or doing laundry are not restricted by the boil water notice.
How long do I have to boil the water?
Until the water samples are cleared by the Health Department lab and the water is deemed safe to drink, which in most cases can be several days. In circumstances where the main break occurs from Thursday evening through Sunday evening, a clearance could take even longer. The reason for that is that we are required to receive two consecutive days of clear lab results before we are able to issue a rescission notice, and the lab is closed on Saturdays, Sunday, and holidays.
How does the state determine the water is safe to drink?
The City takes repeated bacteriological water samples representative of the affected areas to ensure the water is safe to drink. The Lee County Health Department tests the samples and reports the lab results to the City. If the samples are satisfactory, the precautionary "Boil Water" notice is rescinded.
How can I find out if there is a precautionary “Boil Water” notice in effect for me?
Precautionary "Boil Water" notices are issued almost every week, and most of these breaks only affect small, isolated areas. Previously, these notices were hand-delivered in most cases, and residents were notified the same way with the rescission notice. In February 2015, the City began testing a new electronic notification system and switched to the new method for all notifications and rescissions effective August 1, 2015. Residents may choose to receive notifications via text and/or phone calls. To update or confirm your contact information that we have on file, please click here. Additionally, the link at the top of this page provides a map showing all areas where precautionary "Boil Water" notices or rescissions are currently in effect. Just click on the specific areas to obtain address details.