The Tampa Water Department issues a Precautionary Boil Water Notice (PBWN) when there is a loss in water pressure that may allow contaminants, such as pathogens (disease‐causing germs), to seep into the water lines. This loss of pressure can be caused by a broken water main, a loss of power, or a scheduled outage for repairs.
How we notify customers about a PBWN
- 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 a large area notification is required: The department shares will share information about the PBWN by issuing press releases, providing regular updates to the media, and posting updates to Alert Tampa and the City's various social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor.
How long a PBWN stays in effect
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 (typically two days) while bacteriological 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 The notice will be lifted (rescinded) only after tests confirm the water is safe to drink.
How we notify customers that a PBWN has been lifted
- When the number of affected customers is limited: The rescind notice will be hung on the front door of each affected household or business.
- When a large area notification is required: 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.
If you have questions or concerns about a PBWN you've received, please call the Utility Call Center at (813) 274-8811 during business hours.
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- How to Maintain or Restore Water Quality in Buildings a Period of Low or No Water Use
Frequently Asked Questions
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, use 16 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 can also buy bottled water for consumption and food preparation.
Businesses and non‐residential sites should take steps to reduce access to tap water sources while a PBWN in in effect . These steps include:
- Posting notices at or disabling, water fountains and ice machines
- Using commercially produced bottled water for drinking or beverage preparation
- Food service operations should contact their regulatory agency for any additional requirements.
To improve the taste of boiled water you can:
- Pour cooled, boiled water back and forth from one clean glass or container into another to add air to the water, or
- Let the water stand for a few hours, or
- Add a pinch of salt to each quart of boiled water.
Most people who happen to drink this water will not get sick. If you do get sick, the symptoms are similar to food poisoning: nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and possibly a mild fever.
What should I do if I have symptoms?
The most important thing to do is avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid drinks with caffeine, such as soda, coffee, and tea. If you are concerned about your health or the health of a family member, contact your healthcare provider or the Florida Department of Health.
Breastfeeding is best. Continue to breastfeed. If breastfeeding is not an option:
- Use ready-to-use baby formula, if possible.
- Prepare powdered or concentrated baby formula with bottled water. Use boiled water if you do not have bottled water.
- Wash and sterilize bottles and nipples before use with bottled or boiled water.
- If you cannot sterilize bottles, try to use single-serve, ready-to-feed bottles.
Do not use water from any appliance connected to your water lines. This includes the water and ice dispensers in your refrigerator/freezer. Most kitchen and other household water filters typically do not remove or kill all bacteria or viruses.
- Use bottled, boiled, or disinfected water to make coffee and ice.
- When the boil water advisory is lifted, consult the owner’s manual to find out how to sanitize appliances.
- Do not use ice from ice trays, ice dispensers, or ice makers.
- Throw out all ice made with tap water.
- Make new ice with bottled, boiled, or disinfected water.
- Wash fruits and vegetables with bottled, boiled, or disinfected water.
- Use bottled or boiled water that has cooled to cook food.
- Use bottled, boiled, or disinfected water when preparing drinks, such as coffee, tea, and lemonade.
- Wash food preparation surfaces with bottled, boiled, or disinfected water.
Use disposable plates, cups, and utensils, if possible. If you do not have disposable dishes, follow the instructions below.
Household dishwashers generally are safe to use. If possible, set your dishwasher so it is using a hot water rinse or sanitizing cycle.
To wash dishes by hand:
- Wash and rinse the dishes as you normally would using hot water.
- In a separate basin, add 1 teaspoon of unscented household liquid bleach for each gallon of warm water.
- Soak the rinsed dishes in the water for at least 1 minute.
- Let the dishes air dry completely before using them again.
No! These systems and filters are not capable of removing pathogens. You should boil your water or use bottled water.
A properly operating reverse osmosis (RO) unit can remove pathogens, including viruses, bacteria and protozoa. However, there are many units available to the public through hardware stores and elsewhere, not all of which can be relied upon to remove pathogens. Furthermore, RO units must be diligently maintained to assure effective treatment.
If you are at all uncertain of the capabilities of your reverse osmosis unit, do not rely on it to remove potentially harmful pathogens. Instead, you should use boiled (and then cooled) water or water from an acceptable alternate source.
Typical scenario: In most cases, the Water Department will issue a PBWN out of an abundance of caution or to comply with federal regulations that govern when PBWN must be issued. If our water quality tests do not show any sign contamination, you will not need to replace your water filter.
Rare instance: If our water quality tests show that there was some type of bacteria or other contaminant in the water that could be neutralized by boiling, you will want to replace your water filter.
Yes. Pets can get sick from the same contaminants as people. It is a good idea to give them bottled, boiled, or disinfected water. Boiled water should always be cooled before using.
Most germs that infect people do not infect reptiles or fish. If your water system is using more chlorine or changing disinfection, be cautious about changing the water in your fish tank or aquarium. Standard aquarium operations require removal of chlorine and chloramines, which can be toxic to fish and reptiles.
Contact your local pet store or veterinarian for more information.
Yes, you can use the tap water for household plants and gardens.
In many situations, you can use tap water and soap to wash your hands. Follow the guidance of your local public health officials or emergency managers. Be sure to scrub your hands with soap and water (warm or cold) for 20 seconds and rinse them well under running water. It is important to dry hands completely with a towel or by letting them air dry.
No. Do not use tap water to brush your teeth. Use boiled or bottled water.
Yes, it is safe to take a bath or shower, but be careful not to swallow any water. Use caution when bathing babies and young children. Consider giving them a sponge bath to reduce the chance of them swallowing water.
Yes, you can shave as usual.
Yes, it is safe to do laundry as usual.