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Division of Environmental and Community Health

Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention

A Division of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services

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DHHSMeCDCEnvironmental and Community HealthDrinking WaterPublic Water SystemsDrinking Water Orders

Drinking Water Orders

Pursuant to 22 M.R.S.A., Section 2614, a drinking water order may be issued to a public water system when, in the judgment of the Drinking Water Program, a threat to the public may exist from the presence of biological, chemical, or radiological contamination in a public water system. Depending on the threat, a "Boil Water Order", "Do Not Drink Order", or a "Do Not Use Order" may be issued.

A Drinking Water Order Policy is in place to help the Drinking Water Program and public water systems make important decisions on when a drinking water order should be issue and when it can be removed. A listing of all public water systems that currently have a drinking water order issued can be found on the Drinking Water Safety Alerts page.

Boil Water Orders

In general, a Boil Water Order is issued if an event occurs which could introduce pathogenic or biological contaminants to the water system (such as failure of chlorination/disinfection equipment or increase in turbidity) or if the presence of fecal coliform and/or E. coli is detected during recheck sampling. An Order can be voluntarily imposed by the water system or issued by the DWP. Boil Water Orders require that water be heated to a rolling boil for one minute.

Do Not Drink Orders

Do Not Drink orders are issued when there is concern about contamination in a water supply from biological, chemical, or radiological contaminants in exceedance of their Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) that makes the water unsafe for consumption. This includes making ice cubes, food preparation, brushing teeth or any other activity involving consumption of water. The water can be used for other purposes such as bathing and laundry.

Do Not Use Orders

Do Not Use orders are issued to protect individuals consuming water from biological, chemical, or radiological contaminants that may cause immediate personal harm or injury due to respiratory, topical, or internal exposure. The water should not be used for any purpose. This includes drinking, making ice cubes, washing foods, showering, washing hands, brushing teeth, laundry, dish washing or in any other activity involving consumption or use of water.

Additional Resources