In the event of an emergency shut-off or leak, The Westport Water Company will make every attempt to post information about the problem here on the website as quickly as possible. This will include any instructions and/or information on the water quality and any necessary steps you may need to take and for how long.


What is a Boil Water Advisory? Is it the same as a Boil Water Notice?
A Boil Water Advisory (BWA) is a public statement advising customers to boil tap water before consuming it. Advisories are issued when an event has occurred allowing the possibility for the water distribution system to become contaminated. An advisory 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. An advisory is different from a Boil Water Notice, which is issued when contamination is confirmed in the water system. During a notice, all customers must boil their water before consuming it or use bottled water.

What should I do during a Boil Water Advisory or Notice?

You should boil tap water vigorously for at least five full minutes at a complete boil prior to using it for drinking or cooking (the 5 minutes starts when the water begins to bubble). This includes water used for brushing teeth, making ice, washing raw foods, preparation of drinks, and water for pets. Wait for the water to cool before using it, or store it in the refrigerator in a clean container. Boiling removes harmful bacteria in the water that may cause illness. You should throw away ice made during the time the advisory or notice was issued, as freezing does not kill bacteria.

After an advisory or notice has been lifted (if contamination of the water system did occur), you should flush household pipes, ice makers, water fountains, etc. prior to using for drinking or cooking. Flushing simply means letting the water run to ensure that no contaminated water remains in your pipes. Follow the these guidelines for flushing:

  • Run all cold water faucets in your home for one minute
  • To flush automatic ice makers, make three batches of ice and discard
  • Run water softeners through a regeneration cycle
  • Run drinking water fountains for one minute
  • Run water coolers with direct water connections for five minutes.

Do I still need to boil my water if I have a filter system on my faucet or refrigerator?

Most point-of-use (POU) filters are designed to improve the aesthetics of water (improve taste and odor), not remove harmful bacteria. If in doubt, you should boil your water or use bottled water even if you have a filtering system.
Is the water safe for washing dishes, laundry, and bathing?
The water is safe for washing dishes, but you should use hot, soapy water (you may add one tablespoon of bleach per gallon as a precaution) and rinse dishes in boiled water. There are no restrictions on doing laundry. The water is also safe for bathing during an advisory or notice; if the water is contaminated by a chemical that will cause harm on contact, Charleston Water System will issue a Do Not Use Notice , meaning the water should not be used for bathing.
How long must a Boil Water Advisory or Notice be in effect?
An advisory or notice will remain in effect until test samples show the water is safe to drink. Testing for bacteria requires 18-24 hours to complete, depending on the type of test used. The samples are incubated to actually grown bacteria, if any are present. As a result, advisories and notices will be in effect for at least 18-24 hours, sometimes even longer.

What are total coliform bacteria?
Total coliform bacteria are a collection of microorganisms that live in large numbers in the intestines of humans and animals, as well as in most soils and surface water. A sub-group of these microorganisms is the fecal coliform bacteria, the most common member being E coli. These bacteria occur naturally in lakes and streams, but indicate that the water is contaminated with human or animal waste and therefore may pose a health risk to people who drink it. The water treatment process removes these bacteria from the water, but events such as a water main break or a loss of pressure in the water distribution system may allow these bacteria to enter water lines through cracks in pipes or back-siphoning from a residential plumbing system. Boiling water vigorously for one minute will kill these bacteria and make water safe to drink.

How will I be notified if my home/business is affected by an advisory or notice?

Westport Water is making every effort to inform their members of an alert or emergency. You can sign up for alerts being sent to your email address or cell phone by clicking here. We notify the local media The Greensburg Daily News and WTRE-1330 AM of any alerts. If you are unable to use any of these services please contact our district office to discuss other options that may be available.
Under what circumstances will The Westport Water Comapny issue a Boil Water Advisory or Notice?
An advisory must be issued in the following instances:

  • If untreated water reaches the distribution system
  • Loss of pressure in the entire distribution system or a significant portion of the system
  • A water main break where dirt and debris have entered the distribution piping
  • Prior to a tornado making landfall (in this situation, the advisory would be issued by DHEC).

A Boil Water Notice must be issued under the following circumstances:

  • When test samples indicate the presence of total coliform bacteria.

These situations are not the only times when an advisory or notice should be issued. Specific situations, upon consultation with IDEM, may also require an advisory or notice.

Since an advisory is a precautionary measure, will I get sick if I drink the water? What if I drank some water before I found out about the advisory?

Until test results show the water is safe to drink, you should not drink the water without boiling it first. During an advisory, chances are, if you are in good health, you will not get sick from drinking the water; however, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems should not drink the water until it is deemed safe to drink. Symptoms of illness caused by bacteria in the water may include diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. Please note that these symptoms are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice.