Public water systems must notify their customers when they violate EPA or state drinking water regulations (including monitoring requirements) or otherwise provide drinking water that may pose a risk to consumer's health.
Water systems test regularly for approximately 90 contaminants to make sure that no contaminant is present at levels which may pose a risk to human health.
Unfortunately, water quality can sometimes change. Despite the efforts of water suppliers, problems with drinking water can and do occur.
When it does, people who drink the water have a right to know what happened and what they need to do. The public notice requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act require water suppliers to provide this notice.
EPA sets strict requirements on the form, manner, content, and frequency of public notices. Notices must contain:
EPA specifies three categories, or tiers, of public notification. Depending on what tier a violation or situation falls into, water systems have different amounts of time to distribute the notice and different ways to deliver the notice:
The District's Laboratory, through water quality analysis will confirm a suspected water quality problem.
If the problem has the potential to be a Tier I drinking water violation, the State Department of Public Health (DPH) will then be contacted and a determination of the necessary public notification requirements will be confirmed (Violation Tier Level, 1, 2 or 3).
Should the violation be identified as a Tier I violation, a Public Notification statement will then be prepared by the District and approved (if not previously approved) by the DPH. The District will then notify the Media and the DPH will communicate with local health departments and forward the risk communication document for their information, using DPH's health alert network, (HAN). Local health departments will be asked to contact the critical facilities in their respective towns i.e.: Daycare centers, Schools, Hospitals and Dialysis centers.
Q. Why is a Boil Water Order issued, and how long will it last?
A. The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), in conjunction with the District will issue a Boil Water Order when there is concern about potential bacterial contamination to the drinking water supply. The District, with the assistance of the DPH will develop a plan to eliminate any potential source of contamination and a testing plan will be developed to verify the water is safe to drink. The testing plan typically requires 48 to 72 hours to complete. When tests demonstrate there is no longer a public health risk, the DPH will end the Boil Water Order. The Boil Water Order can last longer than 72 hours if tests show potential further contamination.
Q. What should I do if I have already consumed some of the water?
A. If you think you may have consumed some of the water, prior to the notification, watch for gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. If you do experience these symptoms, it is recommended you see your doctor or physician immediately to determine the source of the symptoms.
Q. How long should I let the water boil?
A. To appropriately boil water, customers should bring the water to a boil and let it boil for at least one minute, and then let cool before using.
Q. Can we use the water to wash and bathe?
A. The Boil Water Order prohibits drinking or cooking unless the water is boiled first. Taking showers, bathing and washing hands, laundry and dishes are permitted. Adults, teens and older children can wash, bathe or shower; however, they should avoid swallowing the water. Toddlers and infants should be sponge bathed.
Q. Do I have to boil the water if I have a reverse osmosis system?
A. Reverse osmosis is not designed for removing bacterial contamination. Therefore, boiling water is still required.
Q. Is it necessary to boil all water in the home during an advisory or order?
A. During Boil Water Orders you should boil all water used for drinking, preparing food, beverages, ice cubes, washing fruits and vegetables, or brushing teeth. It is not necessary to boil tap water used for other household purposes, such as showering, laundry or bathing.
Q. What should I do in my home?
Q. What isn't safe?