What should I do about drinking water in case of an emergency?
How much water do I need? Consumers should ensure a safe supply of water for emergency use, by storing at least two (2) quarts of water per person per day that you expect an emergency to last. In other words, a supply of two gallons of water per person should last for 4 days. Don't forget to have some water on hand for your pets.

Don't wait to store water supplies. It would be wise to clean containers you will be using to store water ahead of time. Once you have been advised to store water, it would be best not to wait until the last minute, as many other people will be trying to draw water at the same time.

How can I disinfect my water for drinking?

If the water system did not have any main breaks or loss of water pressure, the water quality can generally be assumed to be safe for drinking. Otherwise, any water that will used for drinking, cooking, or brushing the teeth should be properly disinfected before use.

Consumers should listen to the radio for advisories on the areas where water has become contaminated and unsafe to drink. Follow directions and advisories from the Maui Department of Water Supply, Civil Defense, or the Department of Health on disinfecting water and/or the location of alternative water supplies.

Should there be any concerns over the safety of the potable water, the following may be considered for disinfecting water:

Heat and strain the water through a clean cloth into a container to remove any sediment or floating matter.
Boil the water vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes.
Allow the water to cool. The flat taste caused by boiling is easily removed by adding a pinch of salt to each quart of boiled water or pour the water back and forth from one clean container to another.

Chemical Treatment

When boiling water is not possible, chemical disinfection should be used. The two chemicals commonly used are chlorine or iodine. Strain the water as in step #1 above and purify with chlorine or iodine as follows:

Chlorine - Any household bleach solution (plain, not scented) that contains hypochlorite may be used for disinfection. The strength is given on the label; use the following to determine the amount of chlorine to add per quart of water.

Available Chlorine Drops per Quart of clean water*
1% 10
4-6% 2
7-10% 1
*Double the amount for turbid (cloudy) water


The treated water should be mixed thoroughly and allowed to stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor, if not, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand for an additional 15 minutes. If the treated water has too strong a chlorine taste, it can be made palatable by allowing the water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or by pouring it from one clean container to another several times.
Iodine - Common household iodine from the medicine chest or first aid kit package may be used to disinfect water. Add five (5) drops of 2% United States Pharmacopeia (U.S.P.) tincture of Iodine to each quart of clear water. For turbid water add 10 drops and let the solution stand for at least 30 minutes.

Show All Answers

1. What should I do about drinking water in case of an emergency?
2. What are the hours of operation for the Department of Water Supply?
3. Does DWS make a profit?
4. I'm confused with all this water terminology. Where can I find the definitions of some common water terms?