Missouri Department of Natural Resources offers advice on keeping drinking water safe

Missouri Department of Natural Resources offers advice on keeping drinking water safe
JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JAN. 28, 2009--The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is advising Missouri residents to take precautions with any drinking water that  may have been affected by electrical power disruptions caused by the latest winter ice storm.
Due to the severe winter weather in the southern half of the state over the past few days, some public water systems have experienced low water pressure and, in some instances, complete water outages.  The cause may be loss of power to pump water to people''s homes or water lines breaking due to the extremely cold weather.  Low pressure and broken lines allow contaminants to enter drinking water so people in these situations need to consider boiling their drinking water.
"If an area was without water pressure for any period of time, residents should boil their water until they are notified that samples have been taken proving the water is safe to drink," said Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Joe Bindbeutel.  "We are currently advising water systems to collect and test three samples in one day to ensure the water is safe."
The loss of pressure does not necessarily mean the water has been contaminated. It does, however, have the potential to cause contamination inside houses, businesses and factories to flow backward into the water system and be carried to customers. The normal pressure of the water supply system would prevent this contamination.
Boil Water Procedures
1.      Boil water vigorously for three minutes prior to use.  Use only
boiled water for drinking, brushing teeth, diluting fruit juices and all other food preparation or consumption.  Use of bottled water may be a feasible, though relatively expensive, alternative to boiling tap water when under a boil water order.
2.      Do not use ice from a household automatic icemaker or use any ice
made with un-boiled water from this system.  Make ice cubes with water that has been boiled or purchase ice.
3.      Disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersing for
at least one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water.
4.      Allow water to cool sufficiently before drinking.
Water used for hand washing or bathing does not generally need to be boiled. Supervision of children is necessary while bathing to ensure they do not ingest water.  Boil water advisories typically last about two days, allowing systems to return operating pressure to normal, collect samples for bacteriological testing and receive the laboratory results.

If boiling water is not feasible, several procedures for chemical disinfection of drinking water can be found at www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/emerg.html.

The department encourages individuals who experience water outages or have questions about their drinking water to contact the nearest Department of Natural Resources'' Regional Office by calling 800-361-4827 or 573-751-5331. Information is also available by visiting the Web at www.dnr.mo.gov/regions/regions.htm. Individuals with questions on private water wells should contact their local public health agency or call the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services at 573-751-6095.