News Releases

WQA offers consumer information during D.C. Boil Water Notice
Homeowners advised to take water treatment systems off line during period
LISLE, Ill. (July 13, 2018) – Thousands of residents and businesses in a major portion of Washington, D.C., are being advised today to boil their water before drinking or cooking with it after a possibility of contamination occurred Thursday night.  The Water Quality Association (WQA) offers suggestions and information for consumers in the wake of this appropriate response to a temporary health emergency.

The boil water advisory, affecting large parts of Northwest and Northeast D.C., is expected to last into Saturday or Sunday, DC Water said Friday. Complete information is available at the utility’s website.


WQA recommends residents follow the boil water alert until bacteriological samples demonstrate the water is safe or until corrective actions have been completed. Bathing or showering with the water is safe as long as you are careful not to swallow any.


In addition, residents who have drinking water treatment systems such as reverse osmosis or water softeners should take the system offline to disinfect and protect the system during the emergency period. The water treatment system should be disinfected separately following manufacturer’s instructions. Wait until the public water system has lifted the boil water alert and has said the water is safe to drink before reconnecting the water treatment system.


What is a Boil Water Alert?

A boil water alert is issued by a public water system when there is a known or suspected microbial contaminant in the drinking water distribution system. A boil water alert may be issued in response to a known event or as a precautionary measure to protect the public in case microbial contaminants are present. The microbes could be viral, bacterial, or protozoan, any of which can cause severe health issues. The alert will instruct residents to boil all water used for drinking, cooking, food preparation, brushing teeth, and making ice. The most sensitive populations to microbial contaminants include children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.


How does a Boil Water Alert differ from a Do Not Drink or Do Not Use notice?

A Do Not Drink or Do Not Use notice may indicate chemical contamination and advises consumers to find alternative drinking water sources because boiling will not make the water safe for these specific contaminants. This type of notice advises residents to avoid contact with the water.


For more information on this boil water alert notice, consult the Water Quality Research Foundation’s boil water notice brochure and the DC Water website. Knowing the specific circumstances of the boil water alert will help you determine your next actions.


For more information or help on disinfection contact a water treatment provider in your area and certified water treatment professionals who have completed WQA’s professional certification program. Visit WQA’s website for a searchable database:


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).

# # #