Boil Water Advisories

What is a Boil Water Advisory (BWA) and why is it issued?
A BWA is issued to protect the community from waterborne emergency. The advisory is issued as a precautionary measure when there is concern that contamination may have occurred during water treatment or due to water main pipe repair. Due to a change in the way the state Department of Environmental Protection views a “waterborne emergency”, many water line breaks and routine maintenance repairs now require the issuance of a BWA.

What should I do while a BWA is in effect?
Water used for cooking, making ice, washing food or brushing teeth should be boiled for at least 1 minute before use or bottled water should be used. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. You do not need to boil water used for showering, bathing, laundry or washing dishes. Infant and toddlers should be sponge bathed. People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at increased risk. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their healthcare provider.

If you cannot boil your water, follow the procedures for Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water. This measure will NOT kill all organisms and is only intended to provide drinking water in extreme circumstances.

Can BWAs affect only parts of the City or townships that use City water?
It is possible for BWA’s to affect only a very small area of the water system. Under certain conditions only one city block could be affected. It is also possible that multiple BWA’s could be issued at the same time.

How will I know when the BWA has been lifted?
If only a small area is affected, the City will distribute flyers door-to-door letting you know the BWA has been removed. When larger areas are involved, you will be notified via television, radio, newspaper and the City Web site.

What should I do immediately after the BWA is lifted?
Run the cold water faucet or water fountain for 2-3 minutes. Flush out any automatic icemakers. Drain and refill hot water heaters if set below 115 degrees and run water softener through a regeneration cycle.

Where can I get more information?
For more information, call the City Water Quality Laboratory between 7:45am and 4:15pm by calling (717) 291-4818. At other times, call the Water Bureau emergency number, (717) 291-4816. You can obtain general guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by calling the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.