WaterSafe is advising building owners and landlords as well managers of public buildings and hotels that have been empty or underoccupied during lockdown to risk assess their drinking water system before they reopen.
Prolonged inactivity can lead to poor water quality and the growth of bacteria, such as Legionella, which can be harmful to health when taps get turned on again. WaterSafe is encouraging everyone responsible to follow guidance developed by the water industry. This includes advice to:
- run all taps individually, starting with the tap nearest to where the water enters the building and move systematically to the most distant outlet; run until the water is clear and feels cool to the touch
- where water is stored, storage cisterns should be emptied and filled with water direct from the incoming supply, before flushing the taps
- flushing should be carried out in a way that minimises aerosols (water droplets in the air), by removing showerheads prior to flushing for example; this reduces the risks of Legionella transmission
- ensure all appliances are thoroughly flushed through before use, using manufacturer’s instruction manuals, eg dishwashers, water fountains
- if the property has internal filters or water softeners, these should be checked to ensure they are working correctly before use.
Larger buildings with storage tanks, showers and more complex pipework are likely to require more extensive flushing, followed by cleaning and disinfection. This should be carried out by a competent person.
For further advice on managing risks associated with Legionella, visit bit.ly/HSELegionella