Boil Order Guidelines

From Madison County Health Department, located at 101 E. Edwardsville Road, Wood River, IL 62095, the following guidelines are recommended for residential and retail food establishments water use during a boil water order. For more information, visit their website at or by phone at (618) 296-6079.

Guidelines for Residential Water Use During a Boil Order Notice: 

During a boil water order, residential users of affected public water supplies should take the following measures to protect themselves from consuming potentially contaminated water: 

1. Bottled water should be used for drinking, cooking, washing fresh fruits/vegetables, hand washing and tooth brushing. 

2. The affected tap water should be used for these purposes only after it has been brought to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. 

3. The affected tap water may be used for washing dishes if a dishwashing machine is used. If dishes are hand washed, boiled or bottled water should be used. The affected tap water may be used if the clean dishes are immersed for at least one minute in a sink of water to which one (1) full tablespoon of regular household bleach has been added. 

4. The affected tap water may be used for bathing and/or showering. 

5. The affected tap water may be used for household cleaning. 

NOTE: If the tap water is cloudy and/or contains particles, bottled water should be used. 

After the boil water order is lifted or water service resumes, 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.

Operating Guidelines for Retail Food Service Establishments in the Event of a Boil Water Order or Interrupted Water Service

To continue operating under “boil water” orders or interrupted water service from municipal water supplies, all retail food service establishments (restaurants) must secure and use potable water from an approved source (e.g., from tank trucks or bottled potable water) for all water usage. This includes the following uses:

  1. Coffee, tea, other beverages made in the food establishment
  2. Ice
  3. Washing produce or thawing frozen foods
  4. Employee’s hand washing
  5. Washing all dishes and cooking utensils
  6. All water used in 3-compartment sinks
  7. All water for sanitizing solutions

It must be noted that equipment plumbed directly into the water system such as direct feed coffee urns, ice machines that manufacture ice on site, and post-mix soda or beverage machines may not be used during the boil order. If it is not possible to obtain potable water from tank trucks or bottled potable water and if a heat source is available, boil the water vigorously for five minutes.

Retail food establishments may consider the following alternative procedures to minimize water usage:

  1. Commercially packaged ice may be substituted for ice made on-site.
  2. Single-service items or disposable utensils may be substituted for reusable dishes and utensils.
  3. Pre-prepared foods from approved sources may be used in place of complex preparations on-site.
  4. Restrict menu choices or hours of operation.
  5. Portable toilets may be made available for sanitary purposes.

After the “boil water” order is lifted or water service resumes, these precautionary measures must be followed:

  1. Run all water lines for one minute to flush contaminated water from system. This includes each fill point for post-mix soda and beverage machines.
  2. Clean and sanitize all fixtures, sinks and equipment connected to water lines.
  3. Run your dishwasher empty through three complete cycles to flush the water lines and assure that the dishwasher is cleaned internally before washing equipment and utensils in it.
  4. Discard all ice in ice machines; clean and sanitize (1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of potable water) the interior surfaces; run the ice through 3 cycles; and discard ice with each cycle.
  5. Replace all ice machine filters and beverage dispenser filters and flush all water lines for 10 to 15 minutes.
Madison County Health Department

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