Water systems issue drinking water advisories and orders when they believe water quality is or may be compromised. Advisories and orders tell the public what type of advisory it is and what they should do to protect themselves. In the event of an advisory or order, the Portland Water District will notify the media, update this website, post information on our social media sites and our phone system, and contact critical customers. Typically advisories are BOIL ORDER, DO NOT DRINK, or DO NOT USE, depending on the severity of the potential contamination.
What is a Boil Water Order?
A boil water order is issued to advise the public to boil their tap water before using it. An order does not mean that the water is contaminated, but rather that it could be contaminated. Because the water quality is unknown, customers should assume the water is unsafe to drink and take the appropriate precautions. A boil order is the most frequent of the water advisories and is issued in response to an event that could allow contaminants to enter the water distribution system, like a large water main break, loss of system pressure, a natural disaster, or vandalism.
Very few water main breaks require boil water orders because crews quickly isolate the affected area by closing nearby valves before they make a repair. Once a repair is made, the new pipe is cleaned and disinfected.
What is a Do Not Drink Order?
A Do Not Drink Order is issued when the water may be contaminated with chemicals that can not be removed by boiling. In this case, bottled water should be used for drinking or cooking.
What is a Do Not Use Order?
A Do Not Use Order is issued when there is known microbial, chemical, or radiological contamination when any contact with the skin, lungs, or eyes can be dangerous. Such orders are rare because of the risks associated with the lack of water for sanitation and fire protection.