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What is a boil water order?

When under a boil water order, City Utilities will instruct affected customers to boil their water in order to kill bacteria and other organisms in the water. Customers should continue to boil water until City Utilities provides notification that the boil water order has been lifted. The order will be lifted only after the situation is fully resolved and laboratory tests confirm the water is no longer contaminated.

What should you do?

During a boil water advisory, customers should do the following:

  • The safest and most effective method of water disinfection is to vigorously boil water for at least three full minutes. Fill a pot with cold water and start timing when bubbles pop at the surface. Cool the water before using it for drinking, washing or tooth brushing.
  • Store the disinfected water in clean, covered containers.
  • Read the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on actions to take.
  • Until the boil water order is lifted, use either boiled water that has been cooled, or bottled water, for drinking, brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables, cleaning food contact surfaces, preparing food and baby formula, and for making ice.
  • Once the notice is lifted: Residents are advised to “flush” their water lines in order to clear plumbing of potentially contaminated water. Household and building water lines include interior and exterior faucets, showers, water and ice dispensers, water treatment units, etc. Please use the following guidelines:

Cold water faucets
Run all cold water faucets in your home at the same time for five full minutes with the highest water flow possible. Avoid splashing or flooding of the drains. If you have a single-lever faucet, set it to run the cold water first.

Hot water faucets
To clear hot-water pipes and your water heater, turn on all hot water faucets (or turn your single-lever faucets to the hot position) and run for a minimum of 15 minutes for a typical household 40-gallon hot-water tank. For an 80-gallon hot water tank or larger, run water for at least 30 minutes. Hot water is then safe to use for washing hands, and for hand-washing of dishes, pots and pans, etc.

After flushing hot water pipes and your water heater, run your empty dishwasher one time.

Change all filters located at the tap or within an appliance.

Refrigerator water dispensers
Water dispensers from refrigerators should be flushed using at least one quart of water. If unsure of your dispenser’s capacity, refer to manufacturer specifications.

Ice cubes
To flush the automatic ice dispensers, make three batches of ice and discard.

Discard any water used in humidifiers, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices, and oral, medical or health care devices. Rinse devices with clean water before using.

Food and baby formula
Discard baby formula and other foods prepared with water on the day(s) of the boil water notice.

Water Softeners
Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines specified in the owner’s manual.

What is City Utilities doing?

During a boil water order, City Utilities will:

  • Immediately inform affected areas of the situation using various media, as appropriate. This may include automated calls, door hangers, social media, traditional media, and City Utilities’ website.
  • Dispatch water crews to investigate the cause.
  • Take corrective action. Water system problems of this type typically require a more intensive and widespread response than those needed for a boil water advisory.
  • Collect water samples and send them to a lab for analysis.
  • Await lab results. This typically takes about 24 hours.
  • Missouri Department of Natural Resources will lift the boil water order once final results are satisfactory and City Utilities will communicate this to affected customers. Note that the duration of this type of notice may be longer than a boil water advisory.
  • Inform customers that the boil water order is lifted, typically via the same notification channels used to originally notify customers, and provide instructions on how to flush water lines. Note that this flushing process may be more rigorous than flushing instructions given for boil water advisories.