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Frequently asked questions about Janesville's water boil advisory

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Beth Wheelock
May 8, 2009

Janesville residents seem to have quite a few questions about the boil-water order for residents on the city's east side.


Water Utility Director Dan Lynch is heading up the effort, and answered a few questions frequently asked Friday by WCLO listeners.


How do I know if my water is contaminated?
Lynch says the best way to tell if you're affected by the Department of Natural Resources' precautionary boil-water order is to check the city's map here. Lynch says it's hard to verbally describe the area affected. City employees are also manning the water utility phone lines until 9pm Friday, and starting again at 7am Saturday.
How did E. Coli get into my water?

It's unclear. Lynch says one indicator test shows a positive result in relation to E. Coli bacteria. The city does not have confirmation that the test result is final. The city will conduct five other tests related to the one positive test, and the results will be available Saturday afternoon. Lynch expects those five tests will come back negative, but because there is one indication of E. Coli, the city wants to err on the side of caution. He says the city cannot tell the public the water is safe if there's a possibility it isn't.


If I'm boiling water, when can I stop?
Lynch expects results from five other tests by mid-afternoon Saturday. The city will notify residents via the city's email lists, on the city's website and through local media outlets. The Janesville Gazette's printing schedule and WCLO's weekend program schedule allow their websites to be the most efficient way to receive the information. WCLO News expects to break into regularly scheduled programming to update listeners.
Is it safe to use my water if I don't drink it?

Lynch says you can use the water for dishes, laundry and showers as long as you aren't consuming it. That goes for pets, too. He says when the water dries on dishes, the bacteria doesn't stick around.


How are east-side businesses handling the situation?

Lynch says the Rock County Health Department is calling certain businesses in the affected area. If the business uses water for public health activity--like grocery stores washing produce, dentists using water with patients, and even convenience stores--they are told to take precautionary measures. Lynch says the bigger stores and restaurants that are part of a chain have corporate standard operating procedures for this situation. He says many of these corporations have stores in other areas of the country that have had to deal with water problems.


When has this happened in Janesville before?

Lynch has worked with the city since 1983. The city hasn't had a boil alert since then. Prior to that, Lynch says there was an incident in the late 1970s when the DNR issued a boil alert.


Still have more questions?

City employees are taking calls at 755-3115 until 9pm Friday, and starting again at 7am Saturday.



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