What is a Boil order?

A boil order is a notification made by the water department in accordance with state regulations advising people that are served by the cities water distribution system that the water may be contaminated with bacteria.

This order advises people to boil the contaminated water prior to using it in order to make it safe for drinking.

Public notification of the boil order is made to ensure that every water user on the affected system has knowledge of the contamination.


State regulations mandate boil orders to ensure high-quality water in the event water pressure drops below 20 pounds per square inch (PSI) in any part of a distribution system a boil order would be issued.

In most cases, this happens when a water main is being repaired in your neighborhood.

Boil orders are issued as a precaution with a customer’s best interests in mind. It’s possible, but unlikely, bacteria can enter the water system when pressure in the line drops below 20 psi.


If the boil order affects a limited area, City of Marshall water department notifies customers by door-hanger. If it’s a large area, the company also seeks assistance from the local news media.

Careful Sampling

All boil orders last a minimum of 36 hours, as required by state law.

Once the problem is fixed, water lines are flushed and samples are taken. Samples are taken from several sites within the affected area. The sites are spread out over the affected area. Samples are taken for chlorine, turbidity analysis and bacteriological analysis.

If samples are acceptable, the boil order is removed after 36 hours.

Water Usage

During boil orders, water usage for toilet flushing, clothes washing and cleaning does not require boiling.

Water used for drinking and food preparation requires boiling.

Boil Order Instructions

  1. Strain the water through a cheesecloth, coffee filter, or other clean, porous material to remove as many solid particles and dirt as possible.
  2. Bring the water to a rolling boil for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Let the water cool. Pour into a container that has been boiled or sanitized with chlorine bleach.
  4. To preserve the quality of the water, refrigerate the water until use.

Additional Information

City of Marshall customers can get updates on boil orders by calling the City Hall at 826–8087.