DEP: Burlington Under Water-Boil Order After E-Coli Found in System

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has directed the Town to issue a boil water order for the entire water system.

The Town of Burlington has posted on its web site an advisory for all residents to boil water before consumption after a weekly water test came out positive for E. coli bacteria. 

"The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has directed the Town to issue a boil water order for the entire water system," the alert reads. "This means no tap water should be consumed unless is boiled first."

"All Consumers of the Town of Burlington Water Division are hereby advised that, due to E. coli bacteria detections in water samples, all water from the system used for human consumption e.g. brushing of teeth, hand washing, washing of vegetables or food preparation etc., should be boiled before use.  The water should be brought to and kept at a vigorous boil for not less than ONE MINUTE." 

"During the normal weekly water testing some sites tested positive for total coliform bacteria.  Samples were further tested and the results showed e-coli bacteria positive.  In order to protect the health of our customers the DEP and the Town are issuing a boil water order. The boil water order will remain in place until two full rounds of system wide testing show no total coliform present." 

For information on what you can do please visit the DEP website at: 

Residents can also contact the Department of Public Works at 781-270-1670. 

Update 5:20 p.m.: Burlington DPW reports that . Wait for an official notice from the town before ceasing boiling your water. 

On its site, the Department of Environmental Protection offers the following advice for residents during a water-boil order. 

  • DISCARD any ice, juice, formula, stored water and uncooked foods that were prepared with tap water during the period of concern.
  • USE BOILED OR BOTTLED WATER for drinking, food preparation, mixing baby formula, making ice, washing food, manual utensil and equipment washing, rinsing and sanitizing, brushing teeth or any other activity involving the consumption of water.
  • CHILD CARE CENTERS AND SCHOOLS should use only bottled or boiled water for mixing infant formula, hand washing, and for mixing sanitizing solutions for diapering areas and surfaces such as tabletops and toys. Adult employees should use a hand sanitizer after washing hands with tap water and soap. Do not use drinking fountains and discontinue the use of water play tables. Follow all guidance provided by the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) and/or the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC).
  • RETAIL FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS must follow the guidance of the local board of health and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MassDPH). Wholesale food manufacturers must follow the guidance of MassDPH. Meat processing plants must follow the guidance of MassDPH and the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • SWIMMING POOLS, HOT TUBS, AND SPAS that are operated properly, including routine monitoring for adequate disinfection levels, may continue to operate.
  • SHARE THIS INFORMATION with all other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received thsi notice directly (for example, visitors). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.
  • TRANSLATE THE PRECAUTIONS for anyone who does not understand English.

Tips for drinking water use during a boil order

There are two simple and effective methods you can use to treat drinking water for microbiological contaminants (bacteria).

  1. Boiling: Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Laboratory data show this is adequate to make the water safe for drinking.
  2. Disinfecting: Disinfectant tablets obtained from a wilderness store or pharmacy may be used. In an emergency, liquid chlorine bleach such as CloroxTM or PurexTM can be used at a dose of 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach to each gallon of water. (Careful measurement with a clean dropper or other accurate measuring device is required when using liquid chlorine bleach.) Let stand for at least 30 minutes before use. Read the label to see that the bleach has 5-6% chlorine.

Washing Dishes

You may use a dishwasher if it has a sanitizing cycle. If it does not have a sanitizing cycle, or you are not sure if it does, you may hand wash dishes and utensils by following these steps:

  1. Wash the dishes as you normally would.
  2. As a final step, immerse the dishes for at least one minute in lukewarm water to which a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water has been added.
  3. Allow the dishes to completely air dry.
  4. You may also used boiled and cooled water or bottled water.

Bathing and Showering

Young children should be given sponge baths rather than put in a bathtub where they might ingest the tap water. Adults or children should take care not to swallow water when showering.

Brushing your Teeth

Use only disinfected or boiled water for brushing your teeth.


Ice cubes are not safe unless made with disinfected or boiled water. The freezing process does not kill the bacteria or other microorganisms.

Washing Fruit and Vegetables

Use only disinfected or boiled water to wash fruits and vegetables that are to be eaten raw.

Hand Washing

You should wash your hands with soap and boiled water, or soap with bottled water. If only tap water is available, it is best to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after you wash your hands. If neither is possible and your hands have been exposed to germs, such as after using the bathroom, washing with warm tap water and soap and thoroughly drying your hands is much better than not washing them at all. In these instances, try to keep your hands away from your mouth and use a hand sanitizer as soon as possible after you're done.


Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute before adding food.


For infants use only prepared canned baby formula that is not condensed and does not require added water. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with contaminated water.

Houseplants and Gardens

Water can be used without treatment for watering household plants and garden plants. The exception would be things like strawberries or tomatoes where the water would contact the edible fruit.

House Pets

The same precautions taken to protect humans should be applied to pets. Aquatic organisms (e.g. fish) should not be exposed to water containing elevated levels of bacteria. If the organism's water needs to be refreshed use appropriately boiled or bottled water.

Flush All Taps When The Boil Water Order Is Lifted

When flushing it is important to carefully follow the instructions provided. Flush your household and building water lines including: interior and exterior faucets, showers, water/ice dispensers, water treatment units, etc. Water heaters may need to be flushed to remove any contaminated water. Some types of water treatment devices may need to be disinfected or replaced before being used. Check with the manufacturer for details.

Information for this article provided by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

mmmdegs September 26, 2011 at 08:45 PM
ITS - not it's.


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