Voluntary boil order issued for Tulsa customers having water issues

TULSA, Okla. — The City of Tulsa issued a voluntary boil order until further notice for water customers having issues with their water.

The city cited talks with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality amid ongoing water issues throughout the region brought on by the last two weeks of severe winter weather.

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The advisory is for customers with low water pressure, discolored water or who recently had their water service restored after waterline repairs, and is expected to remain in effect for at least 72 hours.

The city suggests those affected by any of those issues should take these precautions:

  • If your tap water appears dirty, flush the water lines by letting the water run until it clears
  • Boil water intended for consumption for one minute prior to drinking or food preparation - or use bottled water
  • Dispose of ice cubes and do not use ice from a household automatic icemaker
  • Disinfect dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersion for at least one minute in clean tap water that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water
  • Water used for bathing does not generally need to be boiled
  • Supervision of children is necessary while bathing so that water is not ingested
  • Persons with cuts or severe rashes may wish to consult their physicians before utilizing the water in a bath or shower setting

From the City of Tulsa:

Food Establishment Water Emergency Operational Procedures

The Tulsa Health Department recommends the following actions be followed to protect public health in light of the voluntary boil order advisory.

  • Boil water for at least one minute
  • Use boiled or bottled water for coffee and;
  • Serve bottled or canned beverages
  • Ice: Utilize premanufactured ice and if ice was produced during the time of the boil water order, discard the ice and shut off water to ice machines
  • Food Preparation: Use only bottled or boiled water to wash fruit and vegetables - best practice is to use prewashed packaged produce and fruit until advisory lifts
  • Hand Washing: Boil water and set up temporary hand-washing stations in food prep areas and restrooms used by employees
  • Three-Compartment Sinks: Fill with boiled or bottled water in each compartment. Change as often as needed. Sanitize in last compartment that contains one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water
  • Customer Service: Use only single service eating and drinking utensils for customer service
  • Cook Line: Use boiled or bottled water for food preparation
  • Dipper Wells: Remove utensils and discontinue use

Grocery Stores

In addition to deli-type operations, THD advises grocery stores should turn off misters in the produce department:

  • If your tap water appears dirty, flush the water lines by letting the water run until it clears
  • Boil water intended for consumption for one minute prior to drinking or food preparation - or use bottled water

To be clear, this is a voluntary boil order issued as a precaution, not a mandatory boil order. In Tulsa, there have been no confirmed water quality violations reported at this time.

Voluntary boil orders are issued when conditions are present for a potential problem with the drinking water, but a problem has not been confirmed. These are most commonly issued for water main breaks and other low-pressure events where the possibility of contamination intrusion exists.

In contrast, a mandatory boil order, which is not being issued today, is issued by the ODEQ when there is a violation of drinking water regulations.

Throughout this event, the City has remained in constant contact with ODEQ regarding the City’s water situation. Only today was it recommended the City implement a voluntary boil order. The City will continue to stay in contact with ODEQ throughout the duration of this event.

Ryan Love, FOX23 News

Ryan Love is a Digital Content Producer for FOX23 News in Tulsa. A Detroit area native, Ryan joined FOX23 in June 2018 after graduating from Wayne State University with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism. Ryan handles day-to-day digital content and social media strategy for the station.