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Boil Water Advisory

Boil Water Advisory

A boil water advisory is issued when authorities suspect or have confirmed the presence of harmful microorganisms (germs or pathogens, such as E.coli bacteria, giardia parasite, etc.) in a drinking water supply. Drinking water contaminated with these pathogens can make people and animals very sick. Boiling the water will kill the germs and make it safe to drink.

How to Boil Water

  • Bring water to a rolling boil and boil for a minimum of one (1) minute before use.
  • Allow water to cool before using or drinking.
  • Please keep in mind that many kettles do not boil water for one (1) full minute.

An alternative source of safe drinking water* (see more information below) may also be used.

Tap Water Can Be Used For:

  • Washing clothes;
  • Taking showers (adults and older children);
    • See below for information on bathing babies and young children.
  • Shaving; and,
  • Flushing toilets.

Use Boiled Water or an Alternative Potable Water Source* for:

  • Drinking;
  • Brushing teeth or dentures;
  • Handwashing;
    • See below for more information.
  • Washing dishes;
    • See below for more information.
  • Food preparation, including washing fruits and vegetables;
  • Preparing baby or infant formula;
    • See below for more information.
  • Making ice, juice, or other mixes;
  • Coffee makers;
  • Sponge bath babies and young children (after water cools) since they are more likely to ingest water;
  • Giving water to pets;
  • Kitchen and other household water filters or devices; and,
    • Water should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute before running the water through a filter.
    • Filters which have come into contact with water affected by the boil water advisory should be replaced or disinfected following the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Children’s water play, such as wading pools and water tables.

Washing Hands during a Boil Water Advisory

  • Wash hands with soap and water that has been boiled and cooled or potable water from an alternative source*.
  • If using non-boiled tap water, wash hands with liquid soap and dry thoroughly. Then use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing between 70% to 90% alcohol.

Washing Dishes during a Boil Water Advisory

  • Do not use a machine dishwasher.
  • Wash dishes with boiled water that has been cooled or potable water from an alternative source*.
  • If using non-boiled tap water, wash dishes, cutting boards, and countertops with soap and water and then disinfected with a strong bleach solution for 45 seconds:
    • Place 1 tsp (5 mL) of liquid, non-scented household bleach in 3 cups (750 mL) of water.
    • Mix and let stand for at least 15 minutes before using.
    • The mixture can be transferred to smaller clean containers for use.
    • Label the containers as follows: “STRONG BLEACH SOLUTION – DO NOT DRINK.”

Infant Formula Preparation during a Boil Water Advisory

  • Buy bottled water and sterilize it by bringing the water to a rolling boil for two (2) minutes.
  • Do not use kettles that shut off before the water has boiled for two (2) minutes.
  • For more information, please visit our Formula Feeding Videos and Resources.
  • Contact the health unit at 705-267-1181 (or 1-800-461-1818) ext. 3650 for more details about how to safely prepare formula.

*Alternative Potable Water Sources

Instead of boiling water, bottled water can be purchased from local suppliers, such as grocery stores, convenience stores, and department stores.

Do not use snow as a water source.

Steps to Disinfect a Container for Storing Potable Water

  1. Clean a food-grade container and its lid with hot soapy water.
  2. Rinse the container and lid with clean water that has been boiled or from another source not affected by the advisory.
  3. Disinfect your container by mixing 10 tsp (50 mL) of liquid, non-scented household bleach with 1.1 gal (5 L) of water that has been boiled and cooled or water from another source not affected by the advisory.
  4. Ensuring the lid is securely on, shake the container for at least 1 minute.
  5. Use the same solution to disinfect the cap, lid, and mouth of the container.
  6. Empty the container and let air dry.
  7. Replace the lid.
  8. Protect the container from being exposed to the water affected by the advisory (if the water has not been boiled first).
  9. Avoid touching the mouth, cap, or lid of the container.
  10. Keep the container in a clean area, like a shelf or counter, away from surfaces (such as floors) where they may become dirty or soiled.
  11. Replace the lid on container after each use.
  12. Clean and disinfect the container and lid as described above before re-filling the container with drinking water that has been boiled and cooled or water from another potable source.

Lifting a Boil Water Advisory

The boil water advisory (BWA) will continue until the issue has been resolved and two (2) consecutive sets of samples taken 24 to 48 hours apart from all parts of the affected water system show that the Ontario Drinking Water Standards has been met. Notice will be provided once a BWA is lifted.

Actions to Take When a Boil Water Advisory is Lifted

  • Run all cold-water faucets for five (5) minutes before using the water.
  • To get rid of possible sediment, screens (also known as aerators) should be removed, rinsed, and replaced. Ensure hands are washed before handling the screens.
  • It is possible that a slight taste or smell of chlorine will be detected during the first use. The municipality or drinking water system operator may have been using a higher level of chlorination.
  • If there are any concerns, please contact the local municipal office or the operator of the drinking water system.

For more information on Boil Water Advisories, contact the duty inspector at 705-267-1181 or toll free at 1-800-461-1818.