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Boil Water Advisory And Emergency Operations Plan Guidance

Food Service Establishments

The Rules and Regulations for Food Service require a food service operation to stop serving food and beverages if a water service interruption lasts longer than two hours unless the facility has a health department-approved emergency operations plan prior to the event.  The following brochure and preparation tool from the Georgia Department of Public Health provides an overview for developing your own plan:

Even if you do not have an approved emergency operations plan, the following guide can help you serve food safely during the initial two hours of a boil water advisory (NOTE: This guide does not apply to a “Do Not Use” or “Do Not Drink” advisory):

This Guide from the Conference for Food Protection can be used to develop an emergency operation plan that addresses water service interruptions as well as many other emergency situations that can impact your facility:

Once the boil water advisory has been lifted, there are several steps that need to be taken to assure that potentially contaminated water is no longer present in your water lines and the equipment connected to them.  The following guide will help you determine what steps need to be taken for your food service establishment:

Hotels and Motels

The CDC recommends the following instructions and guidelines for hotels and motels that are experiencing a boil water advisory:

  1. Post signs that instruct guests not to drink or use the water for drinking, making coffee or baby formula, brushing teeth, or bathing infants.
  2. Use commercially bottled water for drinking, food and beverage preparation, brushing teeth, and bathing infants
  3. Dispose of ice made on-site and use only ice from a safe source. After the advisory has been lifted, be sure to clean and sanitize ice machines before making ice again.
  4. Close the swimming pool and/or spa until the advisory has been lifted. People often ingest small amounts of water while swimming, especially children.
  5. Flush affected potable water taps until the water meets control limits in accordance with water management plans compliant with ASHRAE Standard 188. Monitoring of residual disinfectant and other relevant water quality parameters (such as HPC in recreational water or pH in utility water) in all building water systems should be performed. Disinfection of water systems may be necessary if control limits are not met. Contact with potable, recreational, or utility water that is not within established control limits should be limited until the systems are restored to normal operating conditions.

Swimming Pools

The CDC recommends closing the swimming pool and/or spa until the advisory has been lifted.  It is best to avoid adding additional water to the pool and/or spa during a boil advisory.