Boil Orders

Generally speaking, a boil order is a public advisory to boil the tap water before drinking and other human consumption uses.  Boil orders are precautionary measures issued to protect public health from the possible exposure to waterborne infectious agents.    

The city's water system is regulated by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).  IEPA requires public water systems to issue a boil order when the water pressure drops below 20 psi.  The city notifies water consumers to boil all water used for drinking or culinary purposes for five minutes before consumption.  Boiling water for five minutes kills bacteria so the water is safe to consume.  The boil order remains in effect until tested samples demonstrate that the water is safe, or until IEPA-approved corrective action is taken.

Under most circumstances, these orders are just a precautionary measure following work on a water main.  Boil orders usually impact a limited area (i.e. a particular street or subdivision).  In these cases, paper notices are typically delivered to the affected properties.  Click Here to see a sample boil order notice.  While most boil orders impact a fairly small area, it is possible a boil order on a larger scale is required.  

In some instances, the need for a boil order is known in advance due to planned maintenance.  However, it is more common for a boil order to be unplanned because it is in response to a water main break.

Boil orders issued by the city apply only to City of Washington water users.  City of Washington boil orders do not apply to city residents and businesses that get their water from the Northern Tazewell Public Water District or Sundale Utilities.  Click Here to view a map of all the water districts in the city.  The yellow area receives water from the City.

After the boil order is lifted, these precautionary measures should be followed:

  1.  Flush the building’s water lines and clean faucet screens.
  2.  Purge the water-using fixtures and appliances of standing water and ice, such as refrigerator ice makers or coffee makers.

Food establishments licensed by the Tazewell County Health Department should consult the Boil Order and Power Outage Guidelines.

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Tim Randall,
Water Treatment Supervisor

In this Department

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