If water systems lose pressure, MSDH or the water system will issue a boil water notice. However, if your home
has lost electrical power or you have noticed a drop in water pressure, you should boil your drinking water until
you have been notified your water is safe. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most organisms.
MSDH will test water samples collected from water supply systems and must have two consecutive days of clear
test samples. It takes MSDH 24 hours to receive test results back from the collected samples. Typically, it takes
48 to 72 hours to find out whether water is safe to drink from contaminated water supply systems.
Can I bathe and shave with water?
The water may be used for showering, baths, shaving or washing, as long as one does not swallow the water or
allow it in eyes or mouth. Parents should supervise children to make sure water is not ingested, and caregivers
should supervise disabled individuals for the same reason. Those with recent surgical wounds, who have a
chronic illness or are immunosuppressed should consider using bottled or boiled water for bathing until their
boil water notice is lifted.
Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food or make ice. Make
sure to boil or treat water before use. Drink only bottled, boiled or treated water until your water supply system is
tested and found to be safe.
Should I wash fruits and vegetables with water?
Fruits and vegetables should be washed with boiled (then cooled) water, bottled water or water sanitized with 8
drops of unscented household bleach per gallon of water. Ice should be made with boiled, bottled or sanitized
Again, you should not use contaminated water to wash and prepare food or make ice. If you use bottled water,
make sure you know where it came from. Otherwise, water should be boiled or treated before use.
What organisms can be in contaminated water?
Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most organisms. Disease transmission from contaminated
water occurs typically by ingesting water. The major organisms of concern are bacteria such as E. coli and
Shigella. These organisms primarily affect the gastrointestinal system and cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps,
nauseas, and vomiting with or without a fever. These illnesses can seriously affect the health of the elderly, very
young or those who are immunocompromised.
Is bottled water safe to use?
If you use bottled water, know where it came from. Otherwise, water should be boiled or treated before use. Drink
only bottled, boiled or treated water until your supply is tested and found safe.
Should I boil my water?
Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill most
organisms. Water may be treated with chlorine or iodine tablets or by mixing eight drops (1/8 teaspoon) of
unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Mix the
solution thoroughly, and let stand for about 30 minutes. However, this treatment will not kill parasitic organisms.
I get my water from a well. How do I disinfect my well?
It is important to disinfect both the well and plumbing with chlorine bleach to ensure that all infectious agents are
killed. If you have water treatment devices, remove all membranes, cartridges and filters and replace them with
new membranes, cartridges or filters after the chlorination process is completed.
The amount of chlorine and the length of time you allow it to remain in your system are equally important.
Common unscented laundry bleach can be used effectively as a chlorine disinfectant.
How can I get more information?
You can contact the MSDH Water Supply Division by calling (601) 576-7518.