The city of Corpus Christi and many other South Texas cities and towns are currently under a water-boil notice. Any water from a tap in your home that will be ingested should be brought to a vigorous, rolling boil and boiled for two minutes. This includes water that has passed through a refrigerator or pitcher filter (e.g. Brita filters), ice makers, water softeners or RO (reverse osmosis) systems.
WATER-BOIL NOTICE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is the water contaminated?
On Feb. 16, the city of Corpus Christi’s issued a water-boil notice because of a drop in water pressure, not due to contamination as in past water-boil notices. On Jan. 18 city officials announced the drop was likely due to a combination of multiple failures on individual properties from pipe breakages in the freezing temperatures and increased water consumption from residences and businesses dripping faucets to prevent more breakages. City workers searched for a possible water main break within the system for two days before determining there was none.
Workers are taking samples of water throughout the distribution system and will notify residents if the water tests positive for contaminants. However, you should continue to operate as if the water is already contaminated as a precaution.
Can I wash my hands and shower/bathe/shave?
Yes, most people can use warm tap water to wash hands or bathe and shower, but use caution that water doesn’t get into your mouth. Young children should be supervised to ensure they don’t get water in their mouths while bathing. However, if you are preparing to cook, wash your hands in bottled or previously boiled water as an extra precaution.
If you have open wounds, recent surgical incisions or have a weakened immune system you should use boiled and cooled water to clean your hands and body.
Can I brush my teeth?
You should use bottled or previously boiled water to brush your teeth.
Can I cook?
Use boiled or bottled water for cooking, including making beverages. Coffeemakers and pod-style drink machines like Keurigs do not get hot enough for long enough to eliminate contaminants. If you have an infant, use ready-mixed formula or bottled water to prepare formula. If neither is available, use boiled water that has cooled to prepare formula. Bottles, nipples and utensils for preparing the formula should also be sterilized in boiled water.
What about my pets?
Give your pets bottled or boiled water that has cooled for drinking.
Can I water my plants with tap water?
Yes, houseplants and gardens can be watered with tap water.
Can I wash clothes?
Clothes can be washed as normal with tap water during a boil advisory.
How do I wash my dishes?
If handwashing dishes, wash in warm tap water with dish soap, then rinse in diluted bleach solution (1 tsp bleach per 1 gallon of water) before airdrying the dishes.
If using a dishwasher, run a sanitizing cycle if available and water temperature reaches at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit. If your dishwasher does not have a sanitizing cycle, upon completion of the wash cycle, rinse the dishes in diluted bleach solution (1 tsp bleach per 1 gallon of water) and airdry the dishes.
Can I eat at restaurants?
Yes, eating from a restaurant is safe during a water-boil notice. Restaurants and hotels follow the same precautions in addition to receiving guidance from the city during a water-boil advisory.
I have a RO (reverse osmosis)/water softener/filtration system in my house, do I need to boil my water?
The city of Corpus Christi recommends you boil your water even with one of these systems as they do not remove all contaminants.
AFTER A WATER-BOIL NOTICE
Do I need to change water filters after the water-boil notice ends?
If no contaminants have been found in the system after the water main break is restored, you will not need to flush the pipes in your home or apartment.
However, if the city does find contaminants, residents should do the following to flush their systems once city officials give the go-ahead.
- Turn on your cold water to each of your faucets and allow to run continuously. (3-5 minutes per faucet)
- Clean and sanitize each faucet
- For automatic icemakers, fill 1-2 cycles of ice and discard.
- Customers with water softeners should run them on a regeneration cycle.
- Unless otherwise directed to discard, existing water filters (refrigerators, water pitchers, faucet attached filters, coffee makers) can remain in use, but should have 1-2 gallons of water cycles ran through them prior to consumption.
Sources: City of Corpus Christi, Centers for Disease Control
Allison Ehrlich writes about things to do in South Texas and has a weekly Throwback Thursday column on local history. Support local coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe