State Department of Health answers to commonly asked questions about E. Coli

What happens if this water is consumed without it being boiled and what are the symptoms of any illness that may result from bacteriological contamination?...

What happens if this water is consumed without it being boiled and what are the symptoms of any illness that may result from bacteriological contamination?

Disease-causing bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting. Not all people will be affected to the same degree. Young people and the elderly are usually more susceptible to illnesses from coliform contamination.

How long should water be boiled when a boil order is in effect?

Bringing the water to a rolling boil and then letting it boil for 1 minute is more than enough to eliminate harmful bacteria.

Is there a need to boil water when chlorine is in the system?


Yes. Even though the chlorine is in the water to kill the bacteria, the water should b boiled until tests prove that all the bacteria have been killed.

Can the water be treated by using iodine tablets instead of boiling?

This is technically possible; however, we recommend boiling instead because it is more foolproof.

Is it advisable to purchase bottled water during this period?

Bottled water is an acceptable alternative to boiling the contaminated water. Bottled water is routinely tested and can be considered safe.

Can ice be made with this water?

No. Ice should not be made with this water. In addition, ice that has already been made or ice produced by an icemaker should be discarded.

Can the water be used to make coffee? For cooking? For washing dishes?


No, not unless it has first been boiled.

Is it safe to bathe or shower with this water? How about washing clothes?

The water is safe for any of these activities. The only concerns with the water have to do with consuming it.

Can this water be used on plants?

Yes. The disease-causing bacteria that may be present in the water do not present a threat to plants.

Is it safe for pets or livestock to rink this water?

No. The water is just as unsafe for animals as it is for humans.

Will the chlorine in the water harm house fish?



If a home has any type of water treatment or conditioning unit, including a water softener, should anything be done with the unit before it is used again?

It is likely that the unit will require disinfecting. Homeowners should check with the unit's manufacturer regarding how to accomplish this.

Will chlorine cause the skin to break out?

No. Most people will not have a reaction to the amount of chlorine that has been added to the water; however, a few individuals are extremely sensitive to chlorine and should avoid contact with the chlorinated water.

Why is the water a reddish brown color?

The chlorine added to the water to kill the bacteria may also react with the iron that has deposited in the water mains, breaking it loose from the pipes and causing some temporary discoloration of the water. The iron in the water pauses a distinctive reddish brown color but does not present a health threat. Flushing fire hydrants and inside taps will help eliminate the iron residue and associated color problems.

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