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5 Expert Tips To Remember When You Get a Boil-Water Notice

NSF water experts explain why boil water notices are issued, how they improve our infrastructure and what to do when you get one.

You get your mail, and there’s a flyer that looks important. It’s a public notice from your water utility telling you to boil your water before you drink it. Sometimes the public notice letter can be overwhelming and even confusing to consumers. You may be thinking, “Why am I getting this now?” It is a legal requirement for the water utility to supply you with drinking water. NSF water experts want to help you better understand why these notices are more frequently issued and how they improve our infrastructure.

According to the American Society of Engineers, the U.S. drinking water infrastructure system comprises 2.2 million miles of underground pipes that deliver water to millions of people. Unfortunately, the system is aging and underfunded, with a water main break every two minutes. This means that an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water are lost daily in the United States. That’s enough to fill over 9,000 swimming pools.

Water utilities are working with local, state and federal agencies to improve our drinking water systems. Here are five tips to remember when you get a public notice to boil your water.

  1. Please follow the public notice. If it says not to drink the water, don’t do it.
  2. If the public notice allows for boiling water, follow its directions.
  3. For anyone using a water filter, you will want to replace your filter elements after the boil-water notice is lifted and before you resume drinking water from the filter.
  4. Your refrigerator filter, faucet filter, under-the-sink filter and water pitcher filter DO NOT kill bacteria in the water.
  5. Bottled water is always an option during a crisis. If you stock up, store it as you would any food, NOT in the garage.

The provision of safe drinking water of sufficient quantity is an ongoing focus worldwide.

In Europe, the European Union has a 30-year history of drinking water policies to ensure that water is controlled through standards based on scientific evidence. These policies ensure that water intended for human consumption can be consumed safely on a lifelong basis, which represents a high level of health protection. The policies also monitor, assess and enforce that drinking water is of the utmost quality and provide consumers with up-to-date information about the safety of, or issues having to do with the quality of, their drinking water.

In addition, the European Water Association is an independent nongovernmental and nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and managing the water environment. It is one of the major professional associations in Europe and covers the whole water sector — wastewater as well as drinking water — working with the European Union to ensure water safety.

Following the warnings and rules about boiling your water is very important. This is the surest method to kill disease-causing germs and to protect your family, yourself and others from potentially contaminated drinking water.

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