Understanding Water Quality Warnings

The City of Inverness continuously monitors and tests water quality to ensure its integrity. Because of many safeguards, it is rare that water quality is compromised but threats do include backflow from negative system pressure (breaks), organic and chemical compounds from source waters, and the unlikely event of tampering.

If there is high probability or confirmation of a contamination, the City would notify affected customers, regulatory agencies, and the media. One of three things may be announced: a boil advisory, a boil order, or a do not use water order. Similar to severe weather threats, it’s important to understand the meaning of the warning system.

Boil Water Advisory
A boil advisory is a precautionary measure issued by the City Water Utility to alert customers when there is a potential for compromised water quality. It is recommended that customers boil all water used in the preparation of food and beverage for consumption for 2 minutes.

Boil Water Order
A boil order is a confirmation that contamination is present in the water system. It is essential that customers boil all water used in the preparation of food and beverage for consumption for 2 minutes.  This includes water used for:

  • Drinking water (including pets)
  • Brushing teeth
  • Baby formula
  • Washing produce
  • Preparing food
  • Coffee, tea, lemonade, etc.
  • Ice cubes should be thrown out
 Water used for laundry, showering/shaving, and watering grass or plants is safe to use without boiling.

A "DO NOT USE" Water Order
In the worst case scenario, The City Utility may issue a DO NOT USE water order advising customers to not use tap water for any purpose. This would include water for drinking, food prep, personal hygiene (washing hands, brushing teeth, showering), laundry, washing dishes, flushing toilets, outdoor watering, etc. Showering, flushing, and watering outdoors may pose a threat from inhalation under certain conditions.

How is a Water Order Lifted?  In a declared water emergency, numerous water samples are collected throughout the service area and tested by a certified laboratory to determine that no contamination is present. It takes a minimum of 18 hours after the sample is taken to determine if contamination is present or not.