Water Borne Diseases
In the United States, the drinking water supply is normally safe. Yet diseases that spread through water are still a very real problem. When there's a water main break or other interruption, or in areas where clean water is unavailable, what should you do? When you camp or travel, how do you lower your risk of getting sick from waterborne germs? How about avoiding diseases that can be spread when you and your family swim or play in lakes, streams, pools, or waterparks?
To find information on other health topics that concern water, such as water safety, see the CDC Health Topics A-Z index.
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FOR CURRENT BOIL ORDERS, PLEASE VISIT OUR HOMEPAGE.
Efforts are made to notify all affected customers of unexpected water main breaks or excessive pressure drops as soon as possible. The public is notified one working day in advance of scheduled interruptions.
A boil order is issued, as required by the Utah Environmental Protection Agency (UEPA), when any work results in an interruption of service, or causes water pressure to drop below 20 pounds per square inch. Notification is made on local news media, local radio stations, city offices, and the Central Utah Public Health Department. Notification lifting the order is made to the same offices.
A boil order remains in effect until test results from the lab indicate the water is safe, typically 48 hours. Water used for drinking or cooking purposes must be maintained at a rolling boil for at least one minute before it is used.
Frequently Asked Questions about Boil Orders:
What is a Boil Order?
A boil order is an advisory issued by a water system operator (usually a town) stating that the drinking water has possibly been contaminated by dangerous bacteria. It could be as a result of any one of these conditions:
A problem with the well or spring supplying the system
A problem with the pipelines or water tank
A problem, such as a cross connection or back siphonage event that caused contamination to enter the water system
A result of contamination found in routine water testing
What does a Boil Order mean for me and my family?
It means that any water you may use for drinking, washing dishes, cooking, making baby formula, or any other use involving food or drink, needs to be boiled before use, to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
What kind of bacteria could be present?
Routine water tests look for fecal coliform bacteria, specifically Escherichia coli, (E.coli) which is present in large numbers in the intestines of mammals (humans, cattle, wild animals). This is important because the presence of this bacterium in any amount indicates that the water supply has been contaminated. These bacteria are present in sewage, barnyard runoff, and in areas frequented by grazing animals. Not only can E. coli itself cause disease, it means that other bacteria, viruses, and parasites may be in the water, bringing a number of diseases with them. These bacteria are not present in drinking water in normal conditions.
What do I do to make my water safe?
There are several things you can do:
Use bottled water from the store for drinking, cooking, tooth brushing, etc.
Bring the needed water to a boil on the stove, allow water to boil for one minute and allow it to cool before using.
You can use water you stored before the boil order was posted.
Do I have to use boiled or bottled water for everything?
No. Use boiled or bottled water for drinking, taking medicine, making food or baby formula, washing hands before handling food, washing food that will be served ready-to-eat (such as salad or sandwich fixings) and washing dishes, or any other use that may affect human health. Use un-boiled tap water for pet water, livestock watering and uses that do not affect human health.
How many days will the Boil Order be in effect?
You should boil your water until the boil order is lifted. The order is lifted when water testing proves that the water is free of contaminating bacteria.
I get my water from a well. Do I need to boil it? Or the next town over has a boil order, do I need to boil my water too?
If you are not on the affected system, the boil order does not apply to you. Water systems generally are not interconnected, so a boil order for one town probably will not apply to another. However, if you are concerned about your well, the Health Department can test your well water for a small fee. Municipal water is tested on a regular basis.
I have a restaurant/convenience store/school or other food establishment. What do I do while the Boil Order is in effect?
-If you have a soda pop fountain that mixes tap water with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) gas and pop syrup, you should not serve pop mixed with questionable water. Offer bottled drinks instead.
Brew coffee and tea with bottled or boiled water.
If you have an automatic dishwasher, you must make certain the Sanitize cycle is working properly on every cycle. Do you have enough sanitizer in the cycle? Test the water to make certain your machine is operating properly. If you have a doubt, wash utensils in boiled or bottled water.
Wash and prepare food only with boiled or bottled water. Serve customers with single use disposable plates, cups, and utensils only.
Use bagged ice from a known safe source. Discard any ice made with questionable water, and sanitize ice maker bins and utensils that have contained ice made from questionable water.
Contact your vendor about clearing questionable water from pop fountains, water filters, water softeners, and other equipment. Water coolers connected to the mains should not be used while the boil order is in effect. After the order is lifted, coolers should be flushed with known good water. It is your responsibility to serve safe food during a boil order.