Boil Water Notices

What is a boil water notice?

You receive a notice on your front door, or hear a story on the radio or television that a precautionary boil water notice has been issued for your neighborhood. Exactly what does that mean? It depends on the type of notice.

Precautionary vs. Mandatory

The Hillsborough County Health Department requires a precautionary notice after pressure in the lines drops below a certain level. This is usually caused by a water main break, system maintenance, or problems at the water plant such as a loss of disinfection. By comparison, a mandatory notice is rare and far more serious, and its provisions should be strictly followed.

Water treatment

A precautionary notice doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with the water. It is simply that it’s possible that contaminants may have entered the system. Thus, customers are advised as a precautionary measure to boil tap water for cooking and drinking.

Treatment tips and FAQs

Boil water for one minute and cool before use. Follow these tips:
  • Allow the water to run until it is clear before washing clothes
  • Avoid contact with cuts or other wounds when bathing
    • It's OK to use non-boiled water for bathing
  • Discard any ice from automatic ice-makers
  • Pour water back and forth between two containers a few times to avoid a flat taste from boiling

Can I use the water to rinse vegetables or fruits?
No, use boiled or bottled water to rinse fruits and vegetables.

Can I use my dishwasher?
Only if your model has a sanitizing cycle. That will bring the temperature high enough to destroy any bacteria that may be present.

Is it safe to take a shower?
Yes. Just be careful not to drink the water while you shower or bathe.

Can I brush my teeth with the water?
Boiled or bottled water should be used for brushing teeth.

I am immunocompromised, is taking a shower or bath still safe?
If you have open wounds or are immunocompromised, use boiled or bottled water for bathing.

What about ice cubes or food prepared with water that should have been boiled?
Discard the ice cubes. If prepared food is not reheated, be on the safe side and don't eat it.

See more Florida Department of Health Boil-Water FAQs

Additional Resources

Notice delivery

We usually issue precautionary boil water notices for 48 hours, until tests show the system is definitely clear of contaminants. If you received a notice on your door that we have issued an advisory, we will also hand-deliver a door notice notice when we lift the alert. If you did not get a door hanger, but heard about the notice through the news, we will also notify the media when we lift the notice.

The County also uses the HCFLAlert mass notification system to send boil water notices to impacted subscribers during geographically large incidents.

Business and Posting Notices

Businesses and non‐residential sites should take steps, such as posting notices at or disabling, water fountains and ice machines, during the boil water notice. If you provide water to visitors or employees, use a commercially produced bottled water for drinking or beverage preparation. Food service operations should contact their regulatory agency for any additional requirements.

Guidelines for Restaurants Operating Under a Boil Water Notice


Get updates by phone:
  • Central and south Hillsborough County residents should call (813) 744-5600
  • Northwest Hillsborough County residents should call (813) 554-5011