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Sanitize Water Lines Before Using Water

Take steps to make sure your drinking water is safe after a flood.

Many North Dakotans were ordered to boil their drinking water this year because floodwaters may have contaminated their water supply.

If you receive water from a city water system, you do not need to remove or replace any permanent piping once the city lifts the boil order, according to Roxanne Johnson, North Dakota State University Extension Service water quality associate. The water is safe to use because the municipal water service has flushed the water in the lines coming to your home and found it to be within the Safe Drinking Water Act’s guidelines for water quality.

“However, before using the water for drinking or bathing, you should remove and discard all removable filters, and rinse and sanitize the parts of the water line within your home,” Johnson says. “You can use the water to wash laundry before taking any of these measures.”

Here are additional suggestions from the First District Health Unit in Minot on what to do before using the water:

  • Refrigerators with ice makers: Discard all old ice. Flush water lines and replace filters. Run the ice maker for three cycles, discarding the ice after each cycle. Clean and sanitize the ice bin and all ice-making equipment.
  • Faucets: Run all faucets for five minutes to flush the water lines.
  • Hot water heaters and storage tanks: If your water heater was left on during the flood, turn the heater off to cool the water in it. Once the water is cool, dump it all out of the heater. Refill the heater, then drain all the water out a second time.
  • Any other equipment with hard plumbing/filters: Empty all tanks, discarding the water. Flush the equipment with clean water three times. Clean and sanitize the equipment following the manufacturer's instructions and change all filters.

For more information, contact Johnson at (701) 429-3756 or

NDSU Agriculture Communication - Aug. 9, 2011

Source:Roxanne Johnson, (701) 429-3756,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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