Precautionary Boil Water Notices: Frequently Asked Questions

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Why are Precautionary Boil Water Notices issued?

We may issue a Precautionary Boil Water Notice if there is a loss of water pressure due to a water main (pipe) break, loss of power, other unforeseen emergency, or a planned repair or replacement. Water pressure keeps pollutants from entering the underground pipes that bring drinking water to your house or business. When the pressure is lost, it is possible that contaminants could seep into the pipes. 

The notice does not mean that the water is contaminated — it means it is possible for contaminants to enter the pipes and affect drinking water. Until the required bacteriological testing is completed, the city will recommend — as a precaution — boiling tap water before consuming it to kill any potential contaminants or using bottled water.

What if I accidentally drank tap water before I learned about the Precautionary Boil Water Notice?

If this happens, don’t panic. The chances of becoming ill are slim. See your doctor if you experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps.  

How long should water be boiled?

Vigorous boiling for at least one full minute is the safest and most effective method of disinfection. Fill a pot with cold water and start timing when steady streams of bubbles pop from the bottom of the pot. Water must be adequately cooled before it can be used for washing or brushing teeth. Store the boiled water in clean, covered containers. Using bottled water is also an option.

How does boiling water make it safe to drink?

Boiling water purifies it because disease-causing bacteria, viruses or parasites will be destroyed by the heat.

Should I use bottled water?

Water from an alternative water source is the best option during a boil water advisory. When bottled water is available, it is a good alternative to boiling water.

Can I wash my hands in tap water during the notice period?

Use tap water and soap for hand washing and basic hygiene, but if you are washing your hands to prepare food, use bottled or boiled water.

What about brushing teeth?

Use bottled or boiled water to brush teeth.

Can I take a shower?   

Yes. Just be careful not to drink the water while you shower or bathe. Though the risk of illness is minimal, individuals who have recent surgical wounds, are immunosuppressed, or have a chronic illness may want to consider using bottled or boiled water for cleansing until the notice is lifted.

What about washing dishes?

Hand-washing dishes: Wash with hot soapy water, then use boiled water to rinse.

Dishwasher: If the hot water reaches at least 170 degrees or the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle and includes a full dry cycle, this will be sufficient.

Can I wash food with tap water?

Fruits, vegetables and other foods should be washed with bottled or boiled water only.

Can I use tap water for making coffee, tea, lemonade, baby formula, frozen juice, or other beverages?

No. Water intended for drinking must be boiled before using it to make beverages, or use bottled water.

Can I use my ice maker during the notice?

Ice already in the freezer when the water pressure drops and before the Precautionary Boil Water Notice is issued is safe. When the notice is issued, turn off your ice maker. When the notice is lifted, if no contamination has been found, then you do not need to flush your ice maker before using it.

Does a water filter protect me?

Water filters in refrigerators and pitchers do not remove bacteria. For under-sink filters, read the manual. If in doubt, boil.

Is it safe to give water to pets?

Many pets, such as dogs, are susceptible to the same diseases as humans. Provide them with bottled or boiled water.

Can I use tap water to water my grass or garden?

Yes, but fruits and vegetables must be washed using boiled or bottled water before consumption.

If the street next to my street is under a Precautionary Boil Water Notice, will the same precautions apply to me?

No, the notice is issued only to those residences and businesses whose water has the chance of contamination.

When will the Precautionary Boil Water Notice be lifted?

After the water system is repaired, and the pressure is restored in the pipes to your home or business, the Precautionary Boil Water Notice will remain in effect while bacteriological tests are conducted to assure the safety of the water. The notice will be lifted (rescinded) only after the required testing proves the water is safe to drink.

How is the public notified?

Typically, Precautionary Boil Water Notice areas are isolated and affect only a small number of customers. In these cases, notification is provided directly to the customers.

However, there are instances when a large-scale Precautionary Boil Water Notice is issued. In these cases, where notices cannot be delivered directly to Melbourne water customers, the City will issue a CodeRED (reverse 911) emergency call out, along with providing information to local media and posts on the City’s web site, Facebook and Twitter pages.

The CodeRED system allows City emergency officials to notify those affected by an incident by their geographic area. Residents and businesses can sign up to receive telephone calls, cell phone calls, texts and/or e-mails. Only authorized officials have access to the CodeRED system. The company will not sell, trade, lease or loan any citizen-supplied information to third parties, so there are no security or privacy concerns.

The CodeRED database contains information obtained from public databases, including regional phone books. Those with unlisted numbers, cell phones or with blocking devices will not receive these emergency calls unless they enroll. Additionally, power outages may affect cordless phones.  

CodeRED information and registration

If you need assistance you can call the City’s ECO Division at 321-608-5080 and speak with someone who can register for you.

For general questions about drinking water quality:

Call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

Food-service business owners/managers:

Please contact the Florida Department of Health.