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An outage is when the pressure drops below 20 psi in a JEA water transmission line. Outages can be caused when water main pipes break, planned repair or construction activities, or by unintentional accidents.
Regulatory and public health laws require JEA to issue precautionary boil water advisories to customers under several drinking water outages circumstances. Boil water advisories are generally required when:
the outage impacts a large geographic area or a large population (more than 350 people or more than 150 metered services); the duration of the outage has or is anticipated to last more than 8 hours; or field crews suspect the water quality may have been jeopardized during the outage.
the outage impacts a large geographic area or a large population (more than 350 people or more than 150 metered services);
the duration of the outage has or is anticipated to last more than 8 hours; or
field crews suspect the water quality may have been jeopardized during the outage.
Regardless, JEA follows many operation and maintenance safeguards to help protect the integrity of water quality during outages.
Boil water advisories may also be issued to specific high risk customers who have experienced a water outage regardless of whether or not the overall geographic area or duration of the outage would meet the above criteria. High risk customers are the very old or very young who are more susceptible to waterborne illnesses (e.g. nursing homes, day cares).
Customers should boil water used for drinking and food preparation or use bottled water for those purposes while the BWA is in effect. Water used for these purposes should be brought to a rolling boil for a minimum of one minute prior to using for drinking, food preparation, or cooking.
In the event of a power outage, customers may disinfect water using common household bleach. Approximately eight (8) drops of bleach (which is about 1/8th of a teaspoon) should be added to one (1) gallon of tap water, shaken, and allowed to stand for 30 minutes before drinking. In the event the water is cloudy, approximately sixteen (16) drops of bleach (which is about 1/4 of a teaspoon) instead of 8 should be added to one (1) gallon of tap water, shaken, and allowed to stand for 30 minutes. There should be a slight chlorine odor. Customers should only use common household bleach that has 5 to 6% active ingredients and only use food grade containers. Customers should NOT use bleach that has perfume scents added (e.g. do NOT use lemon scented bleach, etc.)
Restaurants should only serve bottled beverages or drinks prepared with boiling water. Food should not be prepared with water that has not been boiled. Employees should have alternate means of washing their hands to ensure cleanliness before handling food instead of using water directly from a faucet. Restaurants should contact the Department of Health, Department of Environmental Protection, or Bureau of Hotels and Restaurants for further instruction.
Boil water advisories are issued as a precaution until samples can be analyzed by a laboratory to ensure the drinking water did not get contaminated. It typically takes up to 48 hours for a laboratory to determine if the water is safe.
It is very rare for laboratory results to indicate the drinking water is not safe as a result of a water outage. However, JEA issues these boil water advisories on the conservative side of public safety.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Florida Department of Health have rules and regulations governing the need for the issuance of boil water advisories by JEA.