How Do I Know If Tap Water Is Safe to Drink After A Flood?

After all the recent flooding in Central Texas, you may have been warned about a boil notice that was under effect in many of the areas affected by the flood. For many people, the only public water system (PWS) available was contaminated with dangerous strains of bacteria, an idea that can be pretty scary.

While water softeners like the ones we sell here are great for ordinary circumstances, they aren’t designed to treat water that’s unsafe for consumption, and most water filters won’t do anything to organic matter that may be in water such as bacteria.

So how do you know if the PWS you use is safe after an event like this? And what can you do in the event your water is unsafe? Read on to answer these questions.

Boil Notice

If a boil notice is issued, as was the case for many areas affected by the recent flood, then you should not ignore it. This means the entire PWS was found to be contaminated, and you should’t drink any tap water that hasn’t been disinfected by boiling until you’re notified that the boil notice is over.

To properly disinfect water, bring it to a full boil (not just a rolling boil), and let it stay in this state for 2 whole minutes. Check out the video below if you need some visual reference to tell how far you should take the water to reach a full boil (it’s actually pretty intense):

Let it cool, and it will be good to drink. Don’t assume your water filter will take care of infection; boil your water no matter what.


If no notice was issued but any part of your property was flooded above the water line, you may have contaminated water in your own pipes even if the PWS is safe to drink. In an event like this, you should flush your house’s plumbing by running water through your faucets in a systematic way.

The best way to do this is to start with outside faucets farthest from the water meter, and slowly work your way towards the meter, one faucet at a time. Each time, run the faucet until there is a noticeable change in temperature, and be sure to remove aerators from kitchen and bathroom faucets before you do this.

This procedure should be enough to make sure your own property has safe water in its pipes. So enjoy your salt-free water softener when the water’s safe, but be sure to properly disinfect your water after a flood!