Water Treatment

Water Advisories and Notifications

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Boil Water Advisory

A boil water advisory is a public statement advising customers to boil tap water before consuming it. Advisories are issued when an event occurs that may cause the water distribution system to become contaminated, such as a loss of pressure from a water main break or back siphonage event. If the affected area is small we can restore water quality by flushing hydrants; but if the area is large we cannot do this effectively.  In this circumstance, the city cannot guarantee the quality of the drinking water until the system is repressurized and water testing has been completed, which takes 24 hours. Therefore, an advisory is issued to boil water until the tests are complete and indicate that the water is safe. Boiling the water will kill any bacteria that may be present in the water, including disease-causing microorganisms like Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium, which are frequently found in rivers and lakes. An advisory does not mean that the water is contaminated, but that there is a chance contamination has occurred.

Boil Water Notice

A boil water notice is issued when contamination is confirmed in the water system. On rare occasions a "Do Not Drink Notice" or "Do Not Use Notice" will be issued. In these cases, the city will provide information about safety precautions that should be taken including the use of bottled water for drinking, cooking, bathing and laundry.

If a boil water notice has been issued, then residents must bring water to a boil and keep at a rolling boil for at least one minute. Cool water before using. This includes water used for brushing teeth, making ice, washing raw foods, and preparing drinks, as well as water for pets. Water used for bathing, laundry and lawn irrigation does not need to be boiled. To improve the flat taste of boiled water, aerate it by pouring it back and forth from one container to another and allow it to stand for a few hours, or add a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of water boiled.

Boil Water Notice or Advisory Tips:

  • Throw away ice made during the time the Advisory or Notice was issued (freezing does not killl bacteria).
  • Flush the piping inside your home or business once an advisory or notice has been lifted by running all cold water faucets in your home for one minute, flush automatic ice makers by making and discarding several batches of ice, and run drinking water fountains for one minute.
  • Use hot, soapy water (add one tablespoon of bleach per gallon as a precaution) to wash dishes, and rinse them with boiled water.
  • If you are unable to boil your water, we suggest using bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing teeth.

Boil water notices apply to locations that are completely out of water. Boiling water is not necessary for locations with low water pressure, it may trickle out of the tap but water is still flowing.  If water containing bacteria is not treated through boiling or disinfection, you may experience health effects such as headache, nausea, diarrhea and fatigue. Infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk to develop these symptoms.


In the event of a boil water advisory or notice, the City of Ann Arbor would issue a CodeRED notification to areas impacted. All residents and businesses should sign up CodeRED, a free, emergency notification system. 

Other sources for boil water notice information include:


You can help! If you are completely out of water (nothing comes out of the faucet at all) contact the Water Treatment Plant with your address to help us map the affected area, determine if we need a boil water notice and know who is affected by that notice.

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Brian Steglitz,
Water Treatment Services Manager

919 Sunset Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Phone: 734.794.6426​
Email: [email protected]

Business Hours: M-F 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (except city holidays)​

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for water emergencies: 734.994.2840