Water Emergencies (Boil Orders or Water Shutdowns)
Water Emergencies in Food Establishments
There are two main types of water emergencies that affect food service establishments; boil order advisories and temporary water shutoffs. If a temporary water shutoff occurs, the Peoria City/County Health Department requires that the establishment ceases all food and beverage operations until water is once again provided to the establishment. Once water is provided to the establishment, a boil order advisory is often issued until satisfactory water samples can be obtained showing that the water is not contaminated with harmful bacteria. Only food service establishments that are capable of operating under a boil order advisory are permitted to resume operations during an active boil order. This page offers guidance on boil order advisories, including what steps should be taken during the boil advisory and after the advisory is lifted to ensure a public health hazard does not exist.
What is a Boil Order
A boil order is a notification made by the water system operator announcing that certain areas of the water supply are or might be contaminated with bacteria. This order advises people to boil the contaminated water prior to using it in order to make it safe for drinking (or purchase commercially bottled water). Public notification is made so users of the affected system may receive knowledge of the contamination. If there is no way to boil water or provide approved alternative sources, operations must cease.
What Is Potable Water?
Potable water is water that is safe to drink and use for food preparation. IF SUITABLE AMOUNTS OF POTABLE WATER ARE NOT AVAILABLE, OR IF THE WATER IS SHUT OFF, THE ESTABLISHMENT MUST CEASE OPERATIONS.
During the Boil Order
Potable water must be provided (often involves purchasing bottled water). If this is not possible, tap water may be used if brought to a rolling boil and boiled for 1 minute.
- Potable water should be used to:
- Make coffee, tea, or other beverages
- Wash hands
- Wash produce
- Make ice
- Wash dishes or clean food contact surfaces
- Make sanitizer solution
- Cook and prepare all foods
- Direct plumbed kitchen equipment should NOT be used, including:
- Handwashing sinks
- Coffee/tea machines
- Soda/beverage machines, guns
- On-site ice machines
- Alternative procedures to minimize water use:
- Use commercially bottled drinks
- Use single-service items
- Use pre-packaged foods when possible
- Restrict menus/hours of operation
- Use commercially packaged ice
After the boil order
- Run all water lines for one minute to flush contaminated water from the system, including all soda machine taps.
- Clean and sanitize all fixtures, sinks, and equipment connected to water lines.
- Run the dishwasher empty through three complete cycles before use.
- Discard all ice in the ice machines, clean and sanitize the inside surfaces, run the ice through a cycle again, discard ice.
- Flush all water lines and clean all filters, screens and strainers
Temporary Handwashing Set up (using packaged potable water or potable water that has been brought to a rolling boil for one minute)
- Warm, potable water
- A container with a continuous flow, on/off style spigot (no push button)
- Handwashing soap
- Disposable Paper Towels
- Catch basin for water
- Trash bin (for discarded paper towels)