Although it is not common, your water district may on occasion issue a BOIL ORDER ALERT. The most common reason is a main break in the water delivery system caused by area construction or aging infrastructure. The result of this type of breach is the introduction of sediment and organic material into the water supply that may or may not include bacteria or other contaminants. Because the water managers can no longer insure the quality of the water coming into your home they issue a BOIL ORDER. Other reasons for such an advisory are varied and much more rare but include contamination of the water supply at the source (river, lake, aquifer, well, etc.) that cannot be immediately addressed by the water districts’ standard treatment procedure. This can be caused by area flooding or other natural or manmade disasters.
Regardless of the cause, ALL BOIL ORDERS SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. They typically last 48 hours or less but it is important to follow instructions issued by the Water District until after the “all clear” is issued. All water used for drinking, cooking, making juice, washing fruits and vegetables, – even brushing your teeth should be brought to a rolling boil and boiled for a minimum of 2 full minutes. The sanitized water can then be cooled and placed in clean containers and refrigerated for use as needed. A good tip is to add a small pinch of salt when the water is cooling to remove the “flat” taste of boiled water (unless you are on a restricted sodium diet).
Unless otherwise advised by the Water District it is OK for healthy children (over 2), teens and adults to wash and bath in water from the tap during the BOIL ORDER. The very young, the very old and those with compromised immune systems should avoid all contact with untreated water until the order is lifted. Also remember your pets, while they typically have stronger immune systems then humans, letting them drink untreated water could be harmful, so give them the boiled water with the rest of the family.