BELLEVILLE, Ill. - Illinois American Water has issued a boil order for most of the Metro East area.

Due to the impact of frigid temperatures at their Interurban District's production and distribution systems, it is necessary for customers to boil water for drinking and cooking.

Customers are also required to conserve water use.

The City of O'Fallon said Illinois American Water began testing Thursday afternoon.

The boil order affects thousands of people, including faculty and students at Altoff Catholic High School in Belleville.

Principal David Harris said, as soon as he found out, he got on the intercom to let everyone know. He said a maintenance crew immediately put a garbage bag over every drinking fountain in the building. There are also around 100 cases of bottled water throughout the school.

“It's going to cost us a little bit but just for the safety of the kids, it's worth it,” Harris said.

Thursday, the cafeteria crew plans to serve a meal that doesn't't require any water to make.

Customers can check this map to see if they're affected.

Boil Water Order

Customers should bring their water to a rolling boil for 5 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. Water is OK for bathing, washing and other common uses. The boil water order is being issued in accordance with Illinois EPA regulations. Anytime water pressure drops below 20 pounds per square inch in any part of a community's distribution system, a boil order must be issued as a precaution to protect customers.

Water Conservation

Customers in the Metro East service area are also required to conserve water and to restrict all non-essential water use until further notice. Customers should refrain from non-critical uses like running dishwashers and washing machines at this time.

Water Treatment Change

In addition, our water quality team is switching treatment to a form of chlorine known as “free chlorine,” which does not contain ammonia. Illinois American Water has used this stronger disinfectant in the past and made a similar, temporary switch in the fall while flushing water mains and fire hydrants. Chlorine is commonly used in public water systems as a disinfectant and is monitored closely by our water quality professionals During the temporary treatment change, customers may experience a more noticeable chlorine taste or odor in their water. There is no reason for concern. This is due to the switch in chlorine types. Institutions with additional water purification filters for special needs, for instance Hospitals and Dialysis Centers, have been contacted about this work and are aware of the treatment change. If a customer has a health care or home health care need that requires purified or filtered water, they should reach out to their healthcare provider with any questions.

Cooper stated, “We want to thank our customers for adhering to these important water service changes. The cold weather has posed challenging to our team and we are working around the clock to limit impact to our customers. We appreciate the support our customers have shown our team. It truly means a lot.”

Communities impacted:

• Belleville

• East St. Louis

• Centreville

• Brooklyn

• Fairmont City

• Sauget

• Shiloh

• Washington Park

• Alorton

• Cahokia (from Commonfields of Cahokia PWD)

• Swansea

• Canteen Township

• St. Clair Township

• Stookey Township

• Smithton Township

Also, Sale-for-resale customers (wholesale) include:

• Scott Air Force Base

• O'Fallon

(O'Fallon provides water to Fairview Heights)

• Caseyville

• Millstadt

• Metro-East Municipal Joint Action Water Agency (Commonfields of Cahokia Public Water District & City of Columbia)

• Waterloo