Boil Water After a Water Break

Boil Order Information

A “boil order” is a precautionary measure. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends public water suppliers issue a boil order any time the pressure in the water distribution system drops below 20 psi and the system is compromised due to a water main break, local flooding, structure fires, or even regular operational maintenance. Based on careful analysis by water system personnel, boil orders are only issued for specific areas, and usually for not more than 24 hours.

Remember, a boil order does not mean the water is definitely contaminated, but your public water provider cannot know for sure until 24 hours after a sample is taken, as that is when the test is read. The City of Athens automatically lifts boil orders at the 24 hour mark if the tests come back that no contaminant is present.

Please call the boil order hotline at (740) 594-5078 for more information on any boil order. General information from the EPA / CDC on appropriate means to lessen infection risk is available at (800) 426-4791.


Here are some tips to keep in mind if a boil order is issued in your area:
  • Bring water to a full boil, and boil for three minutes prior to use.
  • Use only boiled water for drinking and preparing food or baby formula.
  • To improve the flat taste of boiled water, keep it cold in the refrigerator.
  • Put a cup over your faucets as a reminder to not use tap water – not even to brush your teeth.
  • Instead of boiling water, you can disinfect water by adding one teaspoon of unscented chlorine laundry bleach for every five gallons of water. Let it stand 30 minutes before using.

Storing Water

Be sure to use sanitized food grade containers for storing water. To disinfect water storage containers:
  • Pour a solution of one tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach to a gallon of water into a container.
  • Let the solution remain in the container for 10 minutes, then pour out the solution.
  • Rinse with purified water.

Additional Precautions

  • Dispose of ice cubes made when a boil order is in place.
  • When washing dishes, make sure to sterilize dishes with a final dip in water that has one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water. Disposable tableware is an option during a boil order.
  • Water for bathing doesn’t need to be boiled.
  • Supervise children to avoid water being ingested.
  • Immuno-compromised persons such as those with cancer receiving chemotherapy, organ transplant recipients, people with HIV / AIDS or other immune system disorders, elderly people, and infants may be more susceptible to infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants, and should be extra careful.