About Boil Water Notices

(Adapted from the Houston Health Department at https://www.houstontx.gov/health/OSPHP/documents/boil-water-faq-food-establishments-HHD-022820.pdf )

Why is a Boil Water Notice Important?

State laws require that a Boil Water Notice must be issued if a water system has (or could have) become contaminated from a water line break or loss of system pressure. As a precaution to protect its customers, Big Oaks MUD will issue a boil water notice even if there is a very unlikely possibility of drinking water contamination.

Contaminated water may contain harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some elderly and people with severely compromised immune systems.

What Does a Boil Water Order Mean?

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s guidelines for a “boil water” order directs that all water used for drinking, preparing food, beverages, ice cubes, and washing fruits and vegetables, should be brought to a rolling boil for at least two minutes on a stovetop, in an electric kettle, or in a microwave (using a microwave-safe container).

What are Alternative Sources of Drinking Water?

  • Use commercially bottled water
  • Arrange to use a licensed potable drinking water tanker truck.

What Should Be Done About Ice?

Discard existing ice made after the boil water notice has been lifted, then clean and sanitize ice bins. Discontinue making ice until the boil water notice is lifted. In the meantime, use commercially manufactured ice from an unaffected water supply.

What About Food Products Requiring Water?

Discard any ready-to-eat food prepared with water prior to the boil water notice. Prepare ready-to-eat food using commercially bottled or boiled water.

What Alternatives are There for Washing/Soaking Produce?

Do not use tap water for washing/soaking produce. Use pre-washed packaged produce. Use frozen/canned fruits and vegetables. Wash fresh produce with water that has been boiled, commercially bottled water, or use safe potable water hauled from another unaffected public water supply system.

Can Tap Water Be Used to Thaw Frozen Foods?

Do not use tap water to thaw frozen foods. Thaw only in the refrigerator, or microwave as part of the cooking process.

Can Tap Water Be Used When Cooking Food?

Use commercially bottled water or use clear tapwater water that has been at a rolling boil for at least two minutes. Alternatively, arrange to use a licensed drinking water tanker truck.

Can Tap Water Be Used for Handwashing?

The best practice is to use only boiled, bottled, or treated water for handwashing. If that is not possible, and handwashing is done with soap and tap water, you should thoroughly dry your hands with paper towels and then use a hand sanitizer.

What About Cleaning and Sanitizing Utensils and Tableware?

Use disposable, single-service utensils and tableware, or use the existing automatic dish machine or the 3-compartment sink. Make certain that the sanitization step is being properly conducted (sanitizer).

How Long Will the Need to Boil Water Continue?

Customers should not stop boiling the water until they receive notice from Big Oaks MUD that the boil water notice has been rescinded. Typically, the need to boil water lasts for 24 to 48 hours, but can be longer. How long will depend on the conditions that caused the need to boil, how quickly the conditions are corrected, and how long it takes for laboratory results to confirm it is safe to return to normal water use.

What Do I Need to Do When the Notice Has Been Lifted?

Big Oaks MUD will notify its customers when it is no longer necessary to boil the water. After the notice has been lifted, you should flush your water system by running all cold water faucets in your home for at least one minute, cleaning automatic ice makers by making and discarding three batches of ice, and running water softeners through a regeneration cycle.