Boil Water Order or

Interrupted Water Service Guidelines


The Safest approach is to drink and cook with bottled water or water previously stored in the refrigerator.  If you have to use tap water, boil it vigorously for at least three (3) minutes.  If you cannot boil it, add eight drops of household bleach to each gallon of water.  Mix thoroughly and allow to stand for 30 minutes.  This method should be used only with water that is clean in appearance and free of odor.


Caution should be used in storage and handling of bottled water.  It should not be stored where it will be exposed to sunlight, and it should not be placed in areas where the temperature is elevated (e.g., on asphalt that has been in the sun).


Two sources of water within the home that can be used for some purposes are the hot water heater and the top tank (not the bowl) of the toilet.  Hot water heaters generally hold up to 30 gallons.  If water from either of these sources is used for drinking or cooking, it should be boiled first.


Remember, do not use contaminated water to make ice, coffee, brush your teeth or wash dishes.  If there is a shortage of safe drinking water, use clean disposable eating utensils, plates and napkins.


How to Purify Water:


Boiling:  Boil vigorously at a rolling boil for 1 to 3 minutes.  To improve taste pour from one container to another several times.


Purification Tablets:  Available at any drug store.  Follow directions of package.


Bleach Purification:  Liquid household bleach can also be used.  It must contain hypochlorite, preferably 5.25%, add according to table below, then stir to mix.


AMOUNT OF WATER                            CLEAR WATER                                  CLOUDY (TURBID) WATER

1 quart                                               2 drops                                                          4 drops

1 gallon                                              8 drops                                                         16 drops

5 gallons                                            1/2 teaspoon                                                   1 teaspoon


To continue operating under "boil water" orders or interrupted water services from municipal supplies, all retail food service establishments (restaurants) must secure and use potable water from an approved source (e.g., from tank trucks or bottled potable water) for all water usage.  This includes for the following uses:


  1. Coffee, tea, other beverages made in the food establishment

  2. Ice

  3. Washing produce or thawing frozen foods

  4. Employees hand washing

  5. Washing all dishes and cooking utensils

  6. All water used in 3-compartment sinks

  7. All water for sanitizing solutions


It must be noted that equipment plumbed directly into the water system such as direct feed coffee urns, ice machines that manufacture ice on site, and post-mix soda or beverage machines may not be used during the boil order.

If it is not possible to obtain water from tank trucks or bottled potable water and if a heat source is available, boil the water vigorously (water should be bubbling and rolling) for one minute (FDA, 2006). Retail food establishments may consider the following alternative procedures to minimize water usage:


  1. Commercially-packaged ice may be substituted for ice made on-site.

  2. Single-service items or disposable utensils may be substituted for reusable dishes and utensils.

  3. Pre-prepared foods from approved sources may be used in place of complex preparations on-site.

  4. Restrict menu choices or hours of operation.

  5. Portable toilets may be made available for sanitary purposes.


After "boil water" order is lifted or water service resumes, these precautionary measures must be followed:


  1. Run all water lines for one minute to flush contaminated water from system.  This includes each fill point for post-mix soda and beverage machines. 

  2. Clean and sanitize all fixtures, sinks and equipment connected to water lines. 

  3. Run your dishwasher empty through three complete cycles to flush the water lines and assure that the dishwasher is cleaned internally before washing equipment and utensils in it.

  4. Discard all ice in ice machines; clean and sanitize (1 tablespoon of unscented regular bleach per gallon of potable water)  the interior surfaces; run the ice through 3 cycles; and discard ice with each cycle.

  5. Replace all ice machine filters and beverage dispenser filters and flush all water lines for 10 to 15 minutes.

Established February 24, 1969

Greene County Health Dept. is an Equal Opportunity Employer