O'Fallon Progress

Boiling down what you need to know about boil orders

Herb Roach
Herb Roach

The city of O’Fallon purchases water, wholesale, from the water company Illinois American. We receive the water, already treated, at a pumping station in French Village. From this pumping station, we are responsible for the distribution of the water to water customers in O’Fallon and Fairview Heights.

Our water distribution system is often inspected and well maintained. Our staff meticulously cares for the system and is always willing to go to great lengths in order to provide O’Fallon water customers with safe, clean water.

But unfortunately, even in a perfect system, circumstances occur from time to time, that may force us to make repairs and issue a water boil order.

The most recent boil order, still fresh in everyone’s minds, occurred on Jan. 3. This boil order was put into effect by Illinois American Water Company due to an issue in their system, prior to the point where water is delivered to the city of O’Fallon. Nonetheless, we had to also issue a boil order to comply with safeguards put in place by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).

What causes a boil order?

A boil order is issued whenever analysis results indicate any supplied water may have or has become microbiologically contaminated, the sanitary integrity of a water system may have been compromised, or following an occurrence of low water pressure.

How long does a water boil order last?

The duration of a water boil order is dependent on the event, repair, location, and many other factors. For a break, a repair must first be made, or for low pressure, the pressure levels must be brought back to normal before the city can begin performing tests on the water. Testing of the water system is typically the final step before lifting a water boil order.

What kind of tests must be performed before the water boil can be lifted?

The IEPA requires us to perform multiple tests of the water system before lifting a boil order. Once the water samples are taken, they are placed in a controlled testing environment, where they must sit for a minimum of 24 hours before they can be read. If any of the samples require further evaluation, they must sit for an additional 48 hours, before they can undergo further testing.

On this most recent boil order, we had to wait until we received notice from Illinois American before we could begin to take water samples. After the 24-hour waiting period, one sample required further evaluation, so we had to wait another 48 hours for confirmation. At the end of the 48 hours, we were able to confirm the sample and lift the boil order.

Safety is a top priority. The city of O’Fallon will always follow the IEPA requirements and will not take a chance with the safety of our water system and customer’s health.

How do we inform everyone of a boil order?

The city uses a number of ways to inform everyone that a boil order is going into effect or been lifted. We post official notices and press releases on our website, send out robocalls and push notifications through CodeRED, and use the power of social media. We have found all these methods productive. I highly encourage you to sign up for one or all these services:

▪ City News and Announcements/Press Releases: ofallon.org/subscribe

▪ CodeRED Emergency Notification System: public.coderedweb.com/cne/en-US/19D95FC82E97

▪ City of O’Fallon’s Facebook: facebook.com/OfficialOFallonIL

I hope that this has answered some of your questions about water boil orders.

As residents of O’Fallon, you should always be able to reach out to your elected officials and ask questions about what is happening in O’Fallon. Having open communications is important to me and something I care very deeply about. Thank you for reading, and please remember, my door is always open.