Boil Water Alerts

Boil Water Alerts

Please continue reading for frequently asked questions relating to a Boil Water Alert. If you have a question not answered below, please contact Council's Customer Experience team at or on 02 6801 4000.

When is a Boil Water Alert recommended?

The Public Health Unit recommends a Boil Water Alert when there is a known contamination of the water supply OR when there is a risk of contamination in the water supply.

What happens if I drink water that isn't boiled?

The Boil Water Alert has been recommended as a precaution. If you drank the water before hearing of the advice, your risk of becoming ill is low. However, if you begin to have fever, diarrhoea or vomiting you should seek medical attention. Advise your health care practitioner that you have consumed tap water during the Boil Water Alert.

In what instances do I have to boil water?

Residents are advised use cooled, boiled water or bottled water for:

  • Drinking
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing and preparing food or beverages
  • Preparing baby formula
  • Making ice
  • Pet’s drinking water

Tap water may be used directly for:

  • Showering and bathing (residents should minimise that amount of water taken into their mouth). As a precaution babies and toddlers should be sponge bathed
  • Washing dishes by hand in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher provided dishes are air-dried before being used after washing
  • Washing clothes

What if I can't boil water?

If you cannot boil the water, unscented household bleach (containing 4% – 5% available chlorine) may be used. Add 2 drops of bleach to 1 litre of water (or 4 drops if the water is cloudy), mix well, and allow to stand for 30 minutes before use.

If you cannot boil your water, or use the method above, you may wish to buy commercially packaged water for drinking.

How long is boiled water safe to drink?

As long as the water is protected from contamination, it should remain safe to drink. Once the water has been boiled, cover it and place it in the refrigerator for future consumption.

How do I safely prepare my baby's formula?

Sterilize all bottles, rings, utensils and nipples in boiling water. The water mixed with the formula should boil at a rolling boil, which will sterilize the water.

Can my pets drink the water?

Pets should be provided with cooled boiled water, or water from an alternate source until the Boil Water Alert is lifted.

Can I use my coffee maker?

Most residential coffee makers are not capable of maintaining high temperatures for a long enough period of time to make the water safe to drink. Coffee and tea can be made by using water that has been brought to a rolling boil. 

Can I use a water filter, or a water filter system, instead of boiling?

Filters should not be relied upon during a boil water alert to provide safe water unless the contaminant is known. If a filter is used it should be certified against an appropriate standard (such as AS/NZS 4348:1995 and/or NSF/ANSI 42 and 53). An absolute 1 micron (or smaller) filter is necessary to remove Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Units that incorporate boiling, distillation or reverse osmosis processes are also satisfactory. An additional disinfection unit may be necessary to inactivate bacteria and viruses. 

Activated charcoal filter systems, eg Brita or other brand names, are not designed to remove contamination from an unsafe water supply. If you have run the water through your filter during the Boil Water Alert it could be contaminated. It is recommended that you discard the filter and replace it with a new one once the Boil Water Alert is over.

Why can businesses and services stay open during a Boil Water Alert?

When there is a Boil Water Alert, services and businesses including commercial establishments serving food and drink are able to meet the requirements using alternate methods of delivery. This may include using finer filters (1 micron) connected to a post-mix machine, limiting drinks sales to bottled items, boiling water to use for food preparation, ordering some products like ice and ice blocks from other areas unaffected by the alert. Council can provide advice on how to manage when an alert is in place, and some precautionary advice and information for businesses is listed in the following sections of this page.

Precautions for Schools and Childcare Centres

Children and employees should not consume water, ice or drinks made with water, or raw foods rinsed with water that has not been boiled or filtered.

When possible, parents and caregivers should provide their children with boiled or bottled water, bottled juices or juices prepared with boiled water from home.

Access to drinking fountains should be restricted or turned off where possible, so that students do not drink unboiled water by mistake.

Water should flow unrestricted to toilets and washrooms. Signs should be placed in the washrooms indicating that the water is not for drinking.

Students and staff are advised to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and running warm tap water after using the toilet and handling food. Hands should then be dried thoroughly.

Precautions for Commercial Businesses

Information regarding precautions for commercial establishments serving food or drink to the public during a Boil Water Alert can be found at NSW Health's website Precautions for commercial establishments serving food or drink to the public during a Boil Water Alert - Water quality (

Precautions for Dental Practitioners

Dental Practitioners in the private sector should call the Australian Dental Association NSW on 8436 9900.

Dental practitioners in public oral health services should contact their Local Health District Clinical Director for Oral Health Services, if they are unsure about the safety of their water supply for dental procedures. Alternatively, they can contact the Centre for Oral Health Strategy on 02 9461 7858.

Do not use any dental hand piece, which uses water for cooling, unless the water comes from bottled or micro-filtered source. NSW Health is advising dental practitioners to reschedule appointments with people who have weakened immune systems where practical, as a precautionary measure.


Download Drinking Water and Public Heath Guide (PDF 79KB)

NSW Health website has information on a range of water quality and health issues including drinking water

NSW Public Health Unit can provide information on water quality and health, or call 1300 066 055

Last Edited: 03 Feb 2023

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