The Department of Water Supply is reminding the public of best practices to maintain or restore water quality in buildings after extended closures because of COVID-19.
When buildings are closed for an extended period of time, water will stagnate and can lead to conditions for the growth of pathogens or change water chemistry that may increase corrosion and leaching of metals, including lead.
“We want to remind building owners and managers of the problems associated with stagnant water and take prudent steps to flush out water systems properly,” Department of Water Supply Director Jeffrey Pearson said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has distributed information on maintaining or restoring water quality in buildings with low or no use to help building owners and managers in addressing water stagnation after extended closures due to COVID-19 response. It can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/information-maintaining-or-restoring-water-quality-buildings-low-or-no-use
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also updated its guidance for reopening buildings after prolonged shutdown or reduced operation. It can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html
The guidance notes that: “Turning on the water for immediate use after it has been stagnant can pose a risk to public health if not properly managed. Additionally, turning on water after a prolonged period of non-use could disrupt pipe and plumbing scales to such an extent that microbial and chemical contaminants could be released into the water.”
Among the EPA’s recommended steps to maintain water quality while buildings/businesses are closed:
Review and understand the plumbing configuration and water usage in a building.
Inspect the building.
Contact the water utility.
Flush the building’s plumbing system regularly.
Before buildings and businesses reopen, the EPA recommends taking the following steps to prepare a building’s water system:
Replace the water in the building’s plumbing with fresh water and maintain all building water systems.
Consider contacting the Department of Health for help with any specific concerns or to check on requirements.
Review the potential impact that degraded water quality might have on building occupants considering their use of the building and water systems.
Drain and clean water storage facilities and hot water heaters.
Follow appropriate regulations and policies for worker safety and health while performing all activities.
For more information, contact the Department of Water Supply at 270-7834.