Boil Water Alert: Your Questions Answered
By Office of Communication
Posted on February 17, 2021, February 17, 2021

Boil water alert FAQ graphic

Due to unprecedented water consumption, likely from a water main break, some Arlington residents may have lost water service. For those who have water service, you are advised to boil your water before many common uses. We’ve compiled a list of residents’ most frequently-asked questions as we work through this historic storm.

Q: What tasks do I need to boil water for? And when is it okay to use plain tap water?

A: Water should be boiled and cooled before drinking. This includes water directly from a filtered refrigerator line. You are also advised to use boiled water when filling ice trays, brushing your teeth and washing your hands. Boiled water should be given to pets, as well. Please leave water at a rolling boil for five minutes before use.

Untreated tap water is safe for showers and baths, as long as it is not ingested. It can also be used in a dishwasher and washing machine.

Q: Does the dishwasher get hot enough to clean the bacteria during a boil water advisory?

A: Yes, most dishwashers are generally safe to use if the water reaches a final rinse temperature of at least 150 degrees, or if the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle. If possible though, please use disposable plates, cups and utensils. If you need to do dishes by hand, wash them as you normally would. Then, in a separate basin, mix one teaspoon of unscented bleach with a gallon of warm water. Soak the rinsed dishes in the water for at least one minute, then let them air dry.

Q: Should I turn my water off to prevent more problems?

A: If you have a broken pipe, shutting off water can prevent further damage. The video below offers a brief DIY tutorial. (Note: the City does not directly endorse this vendor, and there are many great plumbing services in Arlington. The video is simply for instructional purposes.) You may also call 911 to report a broken line.

Q: How long will the boil advisory last?

A: As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, Arlington Water Utilities officials estimate it will take at least 48 hours for the water distribution system to return to normal pressure levels. As pressure is restored, safety tests will be conducted to determine if the boil alert for the City can be lifted.

 Q: What exactly caused the problem?

 A: The City of Arlington began experiencing water demands of almost twice the normal usage during the winter storm. At about 10 a.m. Wednesday, officials saw an even larger surge in demand that caused water pressure in the system to fall dramatically and some homes to lose pressure.

 “What we have seen resembles the pressure drop we would see with a very large main break. However, after investigating throughout the city, we believe the dramatic drop in pressure was due to the increased demand we were already seeing and many small to medium breaks on private water lines due to weather conditions,” Arlington Water Utilities Director Craig M. Cummings said.

Q: Is water quality a concern?

 The boil water alert is a precaution required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. There is no indication water quality has been compromised.

The City is posting regular updates on the boil alert on the this webpage, Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor. You may also contact Arlington Water Utilities Department at 817-275-5931.

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