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Precautionary Boil Water Notices Drinking Water     Central District Highlights

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Precautionary Boil Water Notices



When Do I Issue a Precautionary Boil Water Notice (PBWN)?

  1. A PBWN should be issued as required or recommended in the Department of Health's "Guidelines for the Issuance of Precautionary Boil Water Notices" as adopted in Rule 62-555.335, F.A.C.

  1. When confirmatory samples indicate the presence of fecal, E. coli, or other waterborne pathogens:

  • A Precautionary Boil Water Notice must be issued as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours after the system learns of the result.

  • DEP and the local County Health Department (CHD) must be contacted no later than the end of the day the system learns of result (FAC 62-550.518(10)).

  • To rescind the notice, three repeat samples (1 from the original location, 1 each from five connections upstream and downstream) must all be clear of total coliform, fecal and E.coli bacteria, and an adequate chlorine residual (>0.2mg/L) must be maintained.

  • Depending on the number of confirmatory samples indicating the presence of fecal, E. coli, or other waterborne pathogens, public notice may be required in accordance with Rule 62-560.410, Florida Administrative Code.

  1. When the system has zero or negative pressure:

  • Total pressure loss should always result in a PBWN.

  • Suppliers of water may also contact the State Watch Office (SWO) at 800-320-0519 if the entire system has been affected or if sabotage is suspected. 

  • Two consecutive days of bacteriological samples, representative of the affected areas, must be collected before the notice can be lifted.

  1. When the system has low water pressure:

  • Pressures <20 psi (but greater than zero) may not always require a PBWN.

  • Use professional judgment (what types of facilities were affected, for how long, and what's the possibility of infiltration?).

  • Even if a PBWN is not issued, two days of bacteriological samples should be collected (representative of the area affected) and adequate pressure should be restored as soon as possible.


  1. Water main breaks:

  • PBWN should be issued unless system can demonstrate that an outflow of water was maintained at all times (i.e. water mains repaired with clamping devices while remaining full of pressurized water).

  • If the break can be isolated by valves, resulting in areas of zero pressure, a PBWN should be issued for those customers in the affected area.

  • After main break repairs:

  • Main shall be disinfected in accordance with ANSI/AWWA C651 standards.  Visit the American Water Works Association (AWWA) website to obtain the AWWA Standards.

  • Restore adequate disinfectant residual (0.2mg/L - 4.0mg/L).

  • Collect two consecutive days of bacteriological samples upstream and downstream of the water break location.

  1. Flooding of wells:

  • A PBWN should be issued in all cases where a water supply well has been inundated with surface water.  The PBWN may be rescinded after the well is disinfected and the 10 sample well survey is completed.


How to Deliver a Precautionary Boil Water Notice (PBWN)

  • Precautionary Boil Water Notice Template


    Word format [28 kb]


    Word format [30 kb]


What to Do During a Precautionary Boil Water Notice (PBWN)

  • When a PBWN is issued, a rolling boil for a period of one minute is sufficient to render water used for drinking, cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, or washing dishes microbiologically safe, free of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. 

  • Tap water can be disinfected by adding 8 drops of unscented household bleach (4 - 6 % active ingredients) to each gallon of water, then mixing the water and allowing it to stand for a minimum period of 30 minutes.

  • Note: Cloudy water requires 16 drops of bleach and a 30 minute contact time. Also, other approved chemical disinfectants are available at stores that sell camping and hiking supplies.

  • Boil Water Notice Guidelines for Florida's Food Industry- issued June 1, 2011 by the Florida Departments of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Business and Professional Regulation and Health  [.pdf  72KB ]


Rescinding the PBWN

  • Notices can be rescinded when satisfactory bacteriological samples are obtained, and DEP and County Public Health Units have been notified.

  • The authority issuing the PBWN shall also be responsible for its rescission.

  • Recission Templates.  Templates are in Word format.  Download free Word Viewer.


For Additional Assistance:






Drinking Water Contacts:   Compliance Assurance and Permitting Contacts

Central District

Drinking Water Section

3319 Maguire Blvd., Suite 232

Orlando, Florida 32803-3767


All Purpose Fax: 850-412-0467

Dedicated MOR Fax: 850-412-0740

Incident Reporting and Chemical/Bacteriological Reporting Fax: 850-412-0482


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Last updated: October 28, 2014

  Contact DEP's Central District at: DEP_CD@dep.state.fl.us 
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