For Immediate Release - May 04, 2010

Governor Patrick Lifts Boil Water Order for all 30 MWRA Communities

Ban removed following swift repair of water-line rupture & extensive water-quality testing


PLEASE NOTE: Guidelines for water use going forward are at the bottom of this page and at

BOSTON - Tuesday, May 4, 2010 - Governor Deval Patrick today announced that the water flowing to Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) communities is once again clean and safe for all purposes, following repair of the rupture of the major water supply line to much of Greater Boston on Saturday, May 1st.

"Thanks to the efforts of MWRA and the whole team of state agencies who have responded to this emergency, the people of Boston and surrounding communities can once again rely on the safety of their tap water for drinking," said Governor Patrick. "With a few simple steps, residents and businesses can now go back to normal water use, with full confidence."

The boil-water order, which was issued at 4 p.m. on Saturday, has been lifted for all 30 MWRA communities east of Weston whose water service was interrupted by a rupture of the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel on Saturday.

Since Monday morning, more than 800 water samples at 482 locations have been taken in affected communities, with those samples tested by MWRA under protocols agreed-upon with the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Those tests have shown no contamination that could threaten public health. As a result, the boil water order can be lifted, and normal use of water can be resumed in the 30 affected communities, following certain steps to ensure than any less-than-fully treated water is purged from the water supply system in homes, businesses, and institutions.

"Governor Patrick's priorities have always been public safety and public health, and with the efforts of state agencies and the cooperation of the public, both have been fully protected under difficult circumstances," said Ian Bowles, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

"I commend the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Mayor Menino and other local officials, National Guard, MassDOT, the Teamsters, and private vendors for their response to this water crisis and mobilizing to deliver bottled water where it was most needed," said Mary Beth Heffernan, Secretary of Public Safety and Security.

"I could not be more proud of the MWRA team and its partners, for the job they have done responding to this unprecedented challenge and achieving such a quick resolution," said Fred Laskey, executive director of the MWRA.

Beginning at approximately 6:40 p.m. Saturday, back-up water supply of chlorinated, but not fully treated water from the Chestnut Hill reservoir was used to supplement treated water delivered through the Hultman Aqueduct (which is in the midst of rehabilitation to provide redundant capacity for the MetroWest Tunnel) to maintain water pressure for flushing, fire fighting, and other priority uses. But this water was not deemed safe for drinking or cooking without decontamination by boiling for at least a full minute.

The source of the rupture was swiftly determined to be a failed coupling connecting sections of the MetroWest Tunnel in Weston. With crews working through the night, MWRA and its contractors were able to fabricate a replacement coupling and install it by 4 a.m. on Monday, May, 3rd. After pressure testing and disinfection, the repaired MetroWest Tunnel was up and running by 6 a.m., in time for the morning peak water demand.

Guidelines for water use going forward are as follows:

Residents are advised to "flush" their water following the lifting of the boil order in order to clear plumbing of potentially contaminated water. Flushing your household and building water lines includes interior and exterior faucets; showers; water and ice dispensers; water treatment units, etc.

  • Cold Water Faucets : Run tap water until the water feels cold, 1 minute or more, before drinking, tooth brushing, or using for food preparation.
  • Hot Water Faucets : To clear hot water pipes and water heater of untreated water, turn on all hot water faucets and flush for a minimum of 15 minutes for a typical household 40-gallon hot water tank and 30 minutes for an 80-gallon hot water tank or larger. Never use water from the "hot" faucet for drinking, cooking, or other internal-consumption purposes. After this flushing, hot water is then safe to use for washing hands, and for hand-washing of dishes, pots and pans, etc.
  • Refrigerators : Water dispensers from refrigerators should be flushed by at least one quart of water.
  • Dishwashers : After flushing hot water pipes and water heater, run dishwasher empty one time.
  • Humidifiers : Discard any water used in humidifiers, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), oral, medical or health care devices, and rinse the device with clean water.
  • Food and baby formula : Be sure you have discarded any baby formula or other foods prepared with water on the days of the boil order. (If unsure of the dates contact your water Department.)
  • Ice cubes : Automatic ice dispensers should be emptied of ice made during the boil order. Then, discard ice made over an additional 24 hour period to assure complete purging of the water supply line.

Due to the flushing of the lines by residents and the flushing of the hydrants, some customers may experience a lack of water pressure and/or discolored water. However, this is an expected result and does not pose a health risk. Contact your local Water Department if you have any questions.

Additional information for food establishments can be found at