Water Quality Advisories
Water quality advisories let the public know that drinking water is or could be contaminated and has the potential to cause illness. You can learn more about water contaminants on our Water Quality page.
If a water quality advisory is issued for your community, it will be posted on this website's Alerts page. It will also be posted on our My Utility Connect customer portal. You have to be registered on My Utility Connect to receive these alerts through your phone's mobile app, phone notifications, or by email.
Types of Water Quality Advisories
The U.S. EPA defines three levels of water quality advisory. Regulated water utilities use them to inform customers of suspected or known water quality issues.
- Boil Water Advisory – boil water before consumption
- Do Not Drink Advisory – use a different water source for drinking or cooking
- Do Not Use Advisory – do not use tap water for any purpose, including bathing
In the U.S., Do Not Drink and Do Not Use Water Advisories are rare, and usually the result of an emergency, such as a chemical spill, hurricane, or flood. In the unlikely event one of these advisories is issued, please follow our instructions and those of local health authorities.
Boil Water Advisories are more common, as they’re a result of contamination by microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, and parasites), and so are covered here.
Boil Water Advisories
Boil Water Advisories are issued when a community's drinking water has the potential or is known to have bacteria, viruses or parasites that can cause illness; and boiling will effectively remove/kill these contaminants.
Boil Water Advisories can be more common in smaller water systems relying on only one or two fresh water sources, such as a well or reservoir, and are typically the result of two causes:
Water quality can vary depending on natural fluctuations in supply and quality. For instance, spring run-off, end of summer drought, storms, and floods, can all cause the appearance or increased concentrations of water-borne contaminants. Often these events also cause aesthetic changes – discoloration, odor, or taste – most of which do not pose health concerns.
Water System Maintenance or Malfunction
Drinking water systems require regular maintenance to ensure their safety and reliability. Whenever a system is depressurized or opened, it creates the potential for sediments already in the system to be stirred up, or external contaminants to enter. It’s the same as when your household plumbing is turned off and on, and your taps splutter dirty water for the first couple minutes.
When we’re doing planned maintenance in your area, and depending on the nature of the work, we’ll sometimes issue Boil Water Advisories as a precaution. These are lifted once the work is completed, and testing confirms water is safe to drink.
When an unplanned malfunction or accident occurs in a water system, such as a watermain break, the potential for contamination exists. In these cases, a Boil Water Advisory is issued and kept in place until repairs are completed, and testing has confirmed water is safe to drink.
Precautions During a Boil Water Advisory
During a Boil Water Advisory, tap water used for the following purposes should be brought to a rolling boil for at least three (3) minutes prior to use.
- Drinking and ice cubes
- Liquids or food (e.g., tea or soup) that will not be boiled for at least three (3) minutes
- Washing fruits and vegetables being eaten raw
- Brushing teeth or cleaning dental and medical appliances
- Preparing baby food and infant formula
- Bathing infants
Adults, adolescents, and older children may shower, bathe, or wash using tap water, but should avoid swallowing it. It’s recommended to sponge bathe infants if using tap water. Tap water may be used for dishes washed by machine but add bleach to water used for dishes washed by hand. Water used for other household purposes does not need to be boiled.
At Risk Individuals
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons, such as those with cancer, organ transplant patients, HIV/AIDS and other immune system disorders, the elderly, and infants, can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice from their medical practitioner.
Owners and operators of commercial and public facilities must post Boil Water Advisories at all sinks, fountains, and water outlets accessible to employees and the public. Ideally, these outlets should be turned off where practical.
Lifting a Boil Water Advisory
A Boil Water Advisory can only be lifted (rescinded) once laboratory testing has determined water is safe to drink. Once this has been confirmed, we advise local health authorities and issue public notices. You can check if a recent advisory has been lifted on our Alerts page or the My Utility Connect customer portal.
After a Boil Water Advisory is Lifted
Once a Boil Water Advisory has been lifted, you should follow these simple steps to ensure all old water in plumbing and appliances is replaced with new.
- Flush all faucets, fountains, and garden hoses for at least 5 minutes: longer if water continues cloudy or discolored.
- Discard any drinks, ice, food, etc., made during the Advisory.
- Rewash any food or drink contact items (knives, forks, plates, etc.).
- Check water filters (in faucets, refrigerators and elsewhere) and replace if necessary.
- Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle.
- Do not use water from your hot water heater for drinking until several exchanges of the tank have occurred.
- Run the dishwasher through one or two cycles before washing dishes.
You should consult your appliance owners’ manuals when required.
We take our responsibility to provide safe and reliable water to our customers seriously and we’re committed to the following during a water quality advisory.
- We rigorously adhere to water sampling and testing protocols as required by federal and state regulators, and health authorities.
- We always err on the side of caution when issuing and rescinding advisories.
- We keep customers informed – through this website, My Utility Connect (email and phone alerts), and community postings when required.
We appreciate water quality advisories are an inconvenience, and truly appreciate your cooperation and patience when they’re required.