UPDATE: As of 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, the boil order from the Warren Water District has been lifted. You can find more about it here — Boil order lifted for Warren Water District customers.


SAINT CHARLES, Iowa — Clean drinking water is taken for granted but a sudden boil order has turned getting it into an emergency response operation in Madison County.

“At this point, I’ve given out almost 300 cases of water today,” said Madison County Emergency Management Director Diogenese Ayala. Much like after the deadly March tornado that destroyed parts of Winterset and surrounding areas, Ayala was again at the forefront.

The order was triggered due to a water main break causing possible contamination at the Warren Water District towers in Warren County. Ayala said, “The big part is not everyone has the internet. Especially people that are elderly and kids.”

Despite the location in a different county, Madison County residents in Truro, Peru, Bevington, Paterson, and Saint Charles rely on that water. “There were a lot of us in Madison County that were affected,” said Saint Charles City Council Member Whitney Hutton. She says the response from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and local first responders was instant. “We all just help each other out. Dio had water for us I think before we even had to ask.”

Nearly four dozen leftover cases of water from tornado disaster relief in March were quickly put to use by Ayala when his residents were notified of the boil order Monday and then Hy-Vee lent a helpful hand. “It has kind of been just a whirlwind ice cream truck. I go to one town and another town and just come back around,” Ayala said.

Necessities such as brushing teeth, drinking, food prep, and cooking all require tap water to be boiled first. “We are going to have to be proactive and go an alternate route,” said Renatta Bolen who owns the Talk Shop Lounge in Saint Charles and had to quickly adapt. “We have to use bagged ice and also have to use canned pop. If you need water we ask you bring your own bottled water for drinks,” said Bolen.

A county that continues to find strength through adversity. “We thought a lot here happened in Madison County especially after March 5th so we really want to make sure our residents have what they need to be successful and to have a good life,” Ayala said.

The Warren Water District alerted customers with the following message on their website:

DRINKING WATER ADVISORY for accounts that begin with A, B, C, D, E, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, P, S & T. This does NOT effect F, M5, M6, M67, & M7 accounts. The Warren Water District had a problem in the distribution system and the system lost pressure on July 24, 2022. Due to the potential for bacterial contamination, please boil before using for drinking or cooking. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using. Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. The water may be used for bathing and other similar purposes. A call will go out Wednesday morning with test results.