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COVID-19 Update: Don’t Forget to Check Your Facility’s Water

May 28, 2020

Most facilities are concentrating on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as they prepare to reopen and allow the public back inside. Facility managers will also want to take the time to check their building’s water supply as water that has been sitting stagnant can be unsafe.

Stagnant water is at risk of increased bacteria growth, including E. coli and legionella, and may contain metal contaminants like iron and lead, which are dangerous to drink. Water filtration experts advise facility managers to follow these steps to ensure their buildings have a safe water supply:

  • Begin a systematic building flush at least five days before your planned opening.
  • Do a full audit of the property, including checking the status of all domestic water and mechanical equipment, understanding the building occupants, and reviewing their plan to re-occupy.
  • Complete a risk analysis at the full building level. 
  • Consider installing or updating filtration. 
  • Update your records on flow rates, water temperatures, treatment cycles, and filter maintenance.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers guidance on protecting your water source from legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ Disease:

  • Develop a comprehensive water management program for your water system and all devices that use water.
  • Ensure your water heater is properly maintained and the temperature is correctly set to at least 140°F.
  • Flush hot and cold water through all points of use, such as showers and sink faucets, making sure to flush until the hot water reaches its maximum temperature.
  • Clean all decorative water features, such as fountains.
  • Ensure hot tubs/spas are safe for use and free of visible slime or biofilm before filling with water
  • Ensure cooling towers are clean, well-maintained, and free of visible slime, debris, and biofilm before use.
  • Ensure safety equipment including fire sprinkler systems, eye wash stations, and safety showers are clean and well-maintained.

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