The other day we received an email from ‘SandraDiDeeYo’ who asked a question we could not believe no one had asked us in the past…
“The news is full of boil water advisories in my state recently. Maybe I never paid attention before and they were always in the news but since now I am paying attention I want to know why do cities advertise boil water advisories?”
A very good question, indeed, and not one that has a definite set of answers… though we will attempt to give a few reasons anyways explaining why cities might issue boil water advisories.
- Water main breaks: Unexpected ruptures in the previously sealed system may allow unwanted bacteria and other contaminants to enter the water supply.
- Scheduled water line maintenance: Opening the previously sealed water line for any reason, even for scheduled maintenance, can allow unwanted contaminants access to the water supply.
- Pump failures: If a pump or related component fails water pressure in the lines drops. When that happens, back pressure in the water lines could possibly ‘suck’ unwanted contaminants into water supply via small cracks or fissures ordinarily not considered a problem because normal operating pressure expels water out through those openings in the form of small leaks.
- Water quality testing reveals contamination: Seemingly an obvious reason, but we mention it to remind everyone that municipal and private water treatment facilities must, by law, perform a set number of tests on the water they distribute each and every day, hour, week and month.
If a predetermined number of tests come back positive for bacteria the facility must, by law, notify local authorities who will issue a boil water alert until the situation gets remedied.
Having said what we just said, we’d now like to take a moment to thank the dedicated men and women who spend their days monitoring the quality of the drinking water too many people take for granted.
Interested in learning more about the quality of the tap water in YOUR area? Contact you local water treatment facility or health department and ask for the most recent Water Quality Report. By law they have to provide you with a hard copy or the link to where they have the information posted online.
What does boiling the water do?
Quite simply, it kills off any potentially harmful that may have slipped into the water supply on its way to your home or office. Do make sure you bring the water to a full rolling boil before use and make sure you do not leave the water sitting around too long out in the open (unsealed) because boiling will have also removed any disinfectants normally found in your water that provide a buffer against incidental bacteria floating around in the air.
One danger associated with boiling water, aside from the risk of getting scalded or badly burned by hot water, has to do with metals in drinking water. Boiling water concentrates the metals — if present in the source water — so if your water normally contains dissolved metals you may want to consider switching to bottled water instead of boiling your water until the boil water advisory gets lifted.
Interested in removing metals from your drinking water? You may want to consider a reverse osmosis water filtration system.