Is it safe to give Wichita water to my pets during the boil water advisory?

Pet owners in Wichita — and surrounding communities that buy water from the city — should give their pets boiled or bottled water until the Department of Health and of the Kansas Environment gives the “all clear” on the city’s boil water advisory.

That won’t happen until Wednesday afternoon at the earliest.

“The same precautions taken to protect humans should be applied to pets,” according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

The city and KDHE announced a boil water advisory for Wichita on Tuesday night after high levels of turbidity and cloudy water were detected in Wichita’s water supply due to filtration issues in the town’s waterworks, which is over 80 years old.

City officials said the “everything is clear” could arrive as early as late afternoon or early evening Wednesday, depending on tests for bacteria in the water. If tests show bacteria in the water, it could be several days before Wichita water can be safely consumed without boiling it first.

The boil water advisory could even affect fish owners.

“Aquatic organisms (eg fish) should not be exposed to water containing high levels of bacteria. If body water needs to be refreshed, use boiled or bottled water appropriately,” says the KDHE.

The boil water advisory applies to the City of Wichita and other public water systems that buy water in Wichita, including Sedgwick County Rural Water Districts 1, 2 and 3; the towns of Valley Center, Kechi and Rose Hill; and El Paso Water Co. (City of Derby).

Until the advisory is lifted, only properly sanitized water should be used for drinking, cooking, washing dishes and brushing teeth. The safest way to treat water is to boil it for one minute. To do this, bring the water to a full boil – not just bubbles rising – before you start your timer. Allow the water to cool before drinking it.

To make water taste better after boiling, add oxygen to it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. If the water still tastes flat, you can add a pinch of salt to each liter. If the water is cloudy, you can strain it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter.

The KDHE has offered the following additional advice and things to do during the notice:

If your tap water seems dirty, flush the water lines by running the water until it runs clear.

Discard the ice cubes and do not use ice from a home automatic ice maker.

Sanitize dishes and other food contact surfaces by immersing them for at least one minute in clean tap water containing one teaspoon of unscented household bleach per gallon of water.

Water used for bathing generally does not need to be boiled. Supervision of children is necessary during bathing so that water is not ingested. People with severe cuts or rashes can consult their doctor.

Sources: KDHE, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This story was originally published June 7, 2022 6:42 p.m.

Chance Swaim covers investigations for The Wichita Eagle. Her work has been honored with national and local awards, including a George Polk Award for Political Reporting, a Betty Gage Holland Award for Investigative Reporting and a Victor Murdock Award for Excellence in Journalism. More recently, he was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. You can contact him at cswaim@wichitaeagle.com or follow him on Twitter @byChanceSwaim.


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