The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) has issued an emergency “boil water order” for people living in Massachusetts cities and towns that are served by the MWRA and are located east of the town of Weston. (A full list of affected communities is given later in this blog item.)
The MWRA advises all residents in the affected area – which includes the cities of Boston and Somerville – to boil tap water before drinking it or consuming it in other ways, such as cooking, hand washing, and brushing teeth. Boil water orders are issued to protect public health from waterborne germs that could be or are known to be present in drinking water.
MWRA issued the current boil water order during the evening of May 1, following a major leak in an MWRA water supply line in the town of Weston. To allow crews to repair the damaged line, the MWRA has shifted to emergency water supplies that are NOT suitable from drinking or cooking because they may contain germs. However, these emergency supplies can be safely used for bathing, flushing, and fire protection.
The germs that may be present in the emergency water supplies could cause gastrointestinal illness if the water isn’t boiled or disinfected properly before being consumed. For most people, these germs would be expected to cause only mild gastrointestinal illness. However, some people with weakened immune systems – including HIV-infected persons – could become more seriously ill if exposed to these germs.
The MWRA advises people living in affected communities to use bottled water for consumption or to boil their tap water at a rolling boil for at least one minute before consuming it. Disinfectant tablets, which are available at some pharmacies, can also be used to kill germs in water.Here is a list of the communities under the boil water order as of 3 PM on May 2:
Hanscom Air Force Base
For more information about the water emergency, you can visit the following web pages:
MWRA Emergency Water Notice site – This page contains frequently updated information about the water emergency and pipe repair efforts.
“Consumer Information on Boil Orders” – This page has very detailed instructions about the steps people should take before consuming tap water.
“Some Questions You Need Answers To” – This page from Boston.com has helpful information in a simple question-and-answer format.
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