News Releases

Sanitizing water-using appliances in water emergencies and well disinfection


LISLE, Ill. – Disasters, such as floods and earthquakes can gravely compromise public water systems. The conventional and highly appropriate response of municipalities, health departments, and other regulatory agencies in times of water emergencies is to notify all consumers to boil all water used for drinking or culinary purposes until bacteriological samples demonstrate that the water is safe, and/or until appropriate corrective actions have been completed.


Many home water treatment equipment products (including reverse osmosis systems) do not provide total protection against all types of disease-causing microorganisms that may be present in contaminated drinking water. In many cases, products will be labeled with a statement such as: “Do not use with water that is microbiologically unsafe or of unknown quality without adequate disinfection before or after the system." Recommendations made in all cases should follow the manufacturer's instructions, if available.


Each manufacturer's equipment is different, and appropriate cleaning and sanitizing procedures may also differ accordingly. Following evidence of serious potential disease-causing contamination or in flood or other disaster stricken areas and after the discontinuance of a Boil Water Alert (BWA) has been issued and the water supply has been declared safe to use and drink, several sanitization steps should be taken to ensure that water treatment equipment is ready to use again. Similarly, residents who get water from a well must be concerned about contamination of their water supply and should follow basic procedures to clean and sanitize their well and water treatment equipment before use, whenever a water test indicates that well contamination has occurred.


Addition information on sanitizing water-using appliances in a water emergency and well disinfection can be found on the Water Quality Association (WQA) flood resource page at


Residents can contact a local water treatment professional for information and help on disinfecting wells or water treatment systems. Visit WQA’s website for a searchable database or Texas WQA at: 


Resources are available on the WQA Crisis Response Blog and Flood Resources Page.


WQA is a not-for-profit trade association representing the residential, commercial, and industrial water treatment industry. Since 1959, the WQA Gold Seal certification program has been certifying products that contribute to the safe consumption of water. The WQA Gold Seal program is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC).

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