Posted on March 12, 2020
Updated: March 16, 2020, 9:15 p.m.
The system-wide Boil Water Advisory issued last week (March 12-13) has been lifted. Customers can resume consuming water without boiling it.
Additional Precautionary Boil Water Advisories are issued regularly because of water main repairs being performed in isolated areas. These precautionary advisories aren’t associated with the same water quality issues that were identified during the March 12-13 event. These are isolated to the area of repairs and unrelated to March 12-13 advisory.
A Precautionary Boil Water Advisory does NOT mean that the water is contaminated. It is only a precaution while we test to ensure the water is safe.
If residents have any questions about Precautionary Boil Water Advisories, they can call Union County Public Works Customer Service at 704-296-4210. A complete list of Boil Water Advisory FAQs can be found here.
Updated: March 13, 2020, 2:01 p.m.
The Boil Water Advisory affecting Union County Public Works water customers has been lifted, effective March 13, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. Multiple water quality tests confirmed E. coli is no longer present in the water system. We appreciate assistance from the City of Monroe’s Water Quality Lab for helping expedite testing results. Customers are being notified of updates via the phone number associated with their account. Customers may resume normal water use after completing the following precautionary steps:
We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience and cooperation. The health and safety of our customers is our top priority. If you have any questions not answered in the below frequently asked questions, please call Public Works Customer Service at 704-296-4210.
We continue to receive confirmation of Public Works customers in municipalities NOT impacted by the Boil Water Advisory. They include:
Water customers in Unionville, Fairview, and Wingate are serviced by the water distribution system that provides water from Anson County. That distribution system is connected to the countywide distribution system, but is able to be valved off in situations like this.
The City of Monroe operates its own utility and water distribution system. The Town of Marshville also operates its own water distribution system.
Union County Public Works customers are under a Boil Water Advisory due to a routine water sample showing the presence of E. coli in one area. We are working with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality on quality control measures.
Public Works staff routinely collects water samples for routine testing. On average, more than 120 samples are collected and tested every month. Following a routine water sample collected near the intersection of U.S. 74 and Gray Fox Road in Indian Trail on Monday, March 9, 2020, Public Works received notification late Tuesday, March 10, 2020 that the presence of E. coli was found in the water sample. Public Works immediately collected a second sample at the same location, as well as 11 additional samples in the area, including upstream and downstream of the location. Results from the second sample collected at the initial location did not include the presence of E. Coli that had previously shown the presence of the bacteria. However, results from two of the 12 water samples collected in the repeat testing showed the presence of total coliform, but not E. coli. Coliform is a group of bacteria that could indicate the presence of pathogens.
Union County is currently processing additional samples in the general area; as well as routine testing at other points throughout the county-wide water distribution system. Public Works anticipates receiving results Friday afternoon, March 13, 2020. Customers should expect to remain under the Boil Water Advisory at least through Friday evening. Customers will be directly notified of updates through the email and phone number associated with their account.
Residents who receive water from the City of Monroe, the Town of Wingate, and the Town of Marshville are not included in the Boil Water Advisory. The City of Monroe operates its own utility and water distribution system. The Town of Marshville also operates its own water distribution system.
Water Distribution for Public Works Customers under Boil Water Advisory
Union County Public Works is providing bottled water for customers of the Public Works that are affected by the Boil Water Advisory.
One case of water will be provided to each vehicle.
The following locations will be open from 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. on March 12. Supplies are limited. The sites will reopen at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, March 13:
Distribution of bottled water is on the honor system. Please only accept water if you are a customer of Union County Public Works, so we can ensure people who need to receive are able to do so.
Why has the Boil Water Advisory been issued?
Union County water customers are under a Boil Water Advisory effective the morning of March 12, 2020 due to a routine water sample showing the presence of E. coli in one area.
If you are served with water supplied by Anson County (including the Towns of Fairview, Wingate, Unionville and Marshville) and customers of the City of Monroe water system, the advisory DOES NOT apply to you.
The health and safety of our water customers is our top priority. Union County Public Works is working with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to resolve this issue. We are updating our website and Facebook regularly.
DO NOT DRINK WATER WITHOUT BOILING IT FIRST. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute and let it cool before using, or use bottled water. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
Will Union County shut off the water?
No. Union County Public Works will not shut off the water to its customers during the Boil Water Advisory.
What if I accidentally drank tap water before I learned about the Boil Water Advisory?
If this happens, don’t panic. The chances of becoming ill are very low. Contact your doctor if you experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps.
How long should water be boiled?
Vigorous boiling for at least one full minute is the safest and most effective method of disinfection. Fill a pot with cold water and start timing when steady streams of bubbles pop from the bottom of the pot. Water must be adequately cooled before it can be used for washing or brushing teeth. Store the boiled water in clean, covered containers. Using bottled water is also an option.
How does boiling water make it safe to drink?
Boiling water destroys disease-causing bacteria, viruses or parasites in the water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, boiling is considered the most effective and the safest method of water disinfection.
Should I use bottled water?
When bottled water is available, it is a good alternative to boiling water.
Can I wash my hands in tap water during the advisory period?
Wash hands with bottled water, hand sanitizer, or with boiled water that has cooled. If possible, use hand sanitizer after you wash your hands.
What about brushing teeth?
Use bottled or boiled water to brush teeth.
Can I take a shower?
Yes. Though the risk of illness is minimal, individuals who have recent surgical wounds, are immunosuppressed, or have a chronic illness may want to consider using bottled or boiled water for cleansing until the advisory is lifted. Do not drink the water while showering.
What about washing dishes?
Hand-washing dishes: Wash with hot soapy water, then use boiled water to rinse.
Dishwasher: If the hot water reaches at least 170 degrees or the dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle and includes a full dry cycle, this will be sufficient.
Can I wash food with tap water?
Fruits, vegetables and other foods should be washed with bottled or boiled water only.
Can I use tap water for making coffee, tea, lemonade, baby formula, frozen juice, or other beverages?
No. Water intended for drinking must be boiled before using it to make beverages, or use bottled water.
Can I use my ice maker during the advisory?
Ice already in the freezer before the Boil Water Advisory was issued is safe. When the notice is issued, turn off your ice maker. When the advisory is lifted, if no contamination has been found, then you do not need to flush your ice maker before using it.
Does a water filter protect me?
Water filters in refrigerators and pitchers do not remove bacteria. For under-sink filters, read the manual. If in doubt, boil.
Is it safe to give water to pets?
Many pets, such as dogs, are susceptible to the same diseases as humans. Provide them with bottled or boiled water.
When will the Boil Water Advisory be lifted?
This advisory will last at least until Friday, March 13 while we conduct bacteriological tests to assure the safety of the water. The notice will be lifted (rescinded) only after the required testing proves the water is safe to drink.
Do I need to flush my pipes when the all-clear is given?
Once the Boil Water Advisory is lifted, turn your faucet on and let water run for approximately 3 minutes before consuming.
When was the sample taken? Why did we not have a Boil Water Advisory issued until Thursday?
A routine water quality sample was taken late on Monday, March 9 in Indian Trail. It takes 24 hours to receive test results. Union County received the results on Tuesday, March 10 in the evening, which yielded a positive result for E.coli. An additional sample was immediately taken on Tuesday evening, in conjunction with the state-mandated standard operating procedure to ensure accuracy. The test results from Tuesday’s sample were received late Wednesday night, which confirmed possible contaminants in the water. Union County worked closely with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality throughout the process and issued the Boil Water Advisory on Thursday morning.
Where was the positive sample taken?
The sample was taken in a light industrial area in Indian Trail. There is reason to believe the contamination was limited to that spigot, but out of an abundance of caution, a Boil Water Advisory was instituted for the whole county.
How is the public notified?
The county is communicating updates to customers through customer phone numbers and email addresses that are on file with Public Works.
Information is being shared on the Union County website, Union County Facebook page and provided to the media for distribution.