A Boil Water Advisory or a Boil Water Notice
By: Densie Hoffman, Linda Heaton, Kim Henken and Jenny Cocanougher
Boil Water Advisory
Boil water advisories are generally
issued when water pressure drops.
Repairs to pipes may cause pressure to
A boil water advisory means that all
water that is to be used for drinking or
cooking should be brought to a rolling
boil and boiling should be continued
for at least 3 minutes.
Water not used for drinking or
cooking does not necessarily need to be
boiled. This means water that is used
for bathing or showering or water that
is being used to do the laundry. Dishes
can be washed as long as you use hot
Icemakers should be turned off.
Bottled water or mouthwash should be
used to brush teeth. Bottled or boiled
water should be used for baby formula.
Unless you are notified otherwise, boil
water advisories only last 36 hours
from the time they are issued.
Boil Water Notice
A boil water notice is much more
serious than an advisory. It means
that all water used for drinking or
cooking must be boiled. A boil water
advisory is a precautionary measure,
but a boil water notice must be
A boil water notice means that tests
show that bacterial contamination in
the water supply is higher than
national standards allow.
A boil water notice does not mean that
the tap will make everyone seriously
ill. It just means that the coliform
level is higher than allowed by law. It
is possible that there are harmful
bacteria (pathogens) in the water.
The old, the very young, and the sick
are most likely to become ill.
Symptoms include stomach ache,
vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes
This material is based on work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under
special project number EWQI-10395.
Original written April, 1999. Revised February, 2007 by Ashley Osborne, Extension Associate for ENRI.