Precautionary Boil Water Notices

When there is a loss in water pressure, either due to a broken water pipe, loss of power and/or system pressure, or a scheduled outage for repairs, a Precautionary Boil Water Notice (PBWN) is issued. 

When the number of affected customers is limited, each affected household or business is informed individually using a printed notice hung on the front door. When large area notification is required, the Tampa Water Department publishes Precautionary Boil Water Notices in these ways: media releases, informational Alert Tampa posts, Twitter, Facebook, NextDoor, and via email blasts to registered Neighborhood Association contacts. 

When the water main loses pressure, due to either a broken water main or a scheduled outage, it is possible that contaminants can seep into the pipes. This might allow pathogens (disease‐causing germs) into the water that can cause illness if one drinks it or prepares food or beverages with it. 

As a precaution, it is important to disinfect tap water to kill any bacteria or viruses that may have entered the water. Under a PBWN, water used for consumption can be disinfected by any one of the following methods: 

  • Bring the water to a rolling boil and holding it there for one minute. Aerate the boiled water by pouring it from one container to another several times to improve the "flat" taste left by boiling, then refrigerate for best results.
  • Use bleach if you cannot boil your water. Add eight drops (about 1/8th teaspoon) of  bleach for one gallon of tap water, shake, then let stand for 30 minutes before drinking. Use food grade containers and unscented common household bleach that has 5% to 6% active ingredients. If the water is cloudy, use16 drops, about ¼ teaspoon of bleach instead of 8. There should be a slight chlorine odor. 
  • Use water purification tables or iodine that many sports and camping stores sell. 

Water treated using one of the above methods can be used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth. You also can buy commercial bottled water for consumption and food preparation. 

Businesses and non‐residential sites should take steps, such as posting notices at or disabling, water fountains and ice machines, during the PBWN. If you provide water to visitors or employees, use a commercially produced bottled water for drinking or beverage preparation. Food service operations should contact their regulatory agency for any additional requirements. 

After the water system is repaired and the pressure is restored in the pipes to your home or business, the precautionary boil water notice will remain in effect for several days while bacteria tests are conducted to assure the safety of the water. The notice will be lifted (rescinded) only after tests confirm the water is safe to drink. 

When a small number of locations are affected, the rescind notice will be delivered similar to delivery of the boil water notice. Otherwise, the rescind notice will be distributed via the same methods used for the original distribution. 

The employees of the Tampa Water Department take great care in assuring that your water is safe to drink. We appreciate your cooperation with the PBWN policy, which ensures public health during water outages. 

Call the Utility Services at (813) 274-8811 during business hours if you have questions or concerns about a PBWN issued.