Attention: North English, Iowa

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City serves up boil orders


North English will implement boil orders periodically throughout the next eight months.

The boil orders are a precautionary step to avoid water contamination while replacing water mains. Anytime water pressure is shut off, such as when replacing or repairing a main, there is a potential risk for contamination, according to public works employees and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) officials.

“When you lose pressure in the system somewhere, it’s just a possibility if there’s leaks in the system that what’s leaked into the ground is going to leak back into the pipe,” explained Paul Brandt, an environmental specialist senior with the IDNR.

Boil orders are also an additional precaution some cities take to further disinfect a water main after it is first disinfected and installed. Brandt explained the main is not always stored in the most sanitary of environments.

“They may have been sitting in a pipe yard for a year and been exposed to the weather, and there might be dirt and dust in them,” Brandt said.

While dust and dirt can be washed off before installation, the type of contaminants the city is concerned about are invisible to the naked eye, specifically bacteria. Total coliform bacteria, while usually not harmful themselves, can be a warning sign of “bad” bacteria in the water supply, like E. Coli.

E. Coli-infected water can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms, when ingested. It may also be particularly harmful to infants, young children, the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems, according to the IDNR.

Boiling water is one of the most effective ways for residents to protect themselves from a bacterial infection because E. Coli cannot survive the boiling temperature of water, 212° F.

When the boil orders are in effect, water should be boiled for at least one minute before drinking, washing dishes, brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables, making ice and handwashing. Bottled water can also be used for the mentioned tasks. Water will not need to be boiled before showering, bathing or doing laundry. Boil orders will remain in effect for 48 hours after the boil order starts.

The city will periodically issue boil orders until the completion of the main replacement in July. The boil orders will be issued approximately once every two to three weeks, according to public works employee Tim Garrett. Citizens will be notified at least 24 hours in advance of the boil order. The city will inform the public about boil orders through these sources:

• KHAWK, 98.1 FM


• The North English Web site:

• The English Valleys School Web site:

• The community EVents page:

North English Hotline   –  319-664-2489 (CITY)

The boil orders will apply to all households, businesses, and institutions in North English.

Garrett emphasized the city’s monthly water samples have not tested positive for E. Coli or total coliform and that the city is issuing boil orders just in case of potential contamination.

“It’s not that the city or Volkens Excavation, Inc., has done anything wrong. It’s that there’s a chance of contamination, and with two schools and a care center, we’d prefer not to take that chance,” Garrett said.

Web Manager - Scott Romine

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