| Water utilities urge building managers to freshen water systems before reopening
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Water utilities urge building managers to freshen water systems before reopening

Freshen up that water.

office building waiting to reopenThat’s the message that the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and its member utilities are sending to building managers and operators preparing to reopen office buildings, hotels, childcare facilities, residences and other buildings that were shut down for several weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.

With little or no water running through building water pipes and fixtures for an extended period of time, Legionella is more likely to proliferate. Stagnant water conditions can result in discolored water, lower chlorine levels and higher concentrations of lead and copper.

To address these concerns, AWWA encourages its members to raise awareness among their customers about guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to safely prepare water systems and end-use devices before reopening buildings or residences. The CDC offers additional resources, including the Toolkit: Developing a Legionella Water Management Program.

Mary GugliuzzaFresh water should be drawn into building water systems and stagnant water flushed out before they are reopened. It’s important to note, however, that each building’s water systems are unique. Building owners and operators should be aware of information provided by their state or local water system.

AWWA’s Public Affairs Council has collected examples of different ways utilities are elevating this issue to their commercial customers. Those examples are available on AWWA’s coronavirus resource page, where CDC and AWWA flushing guidance is also posted. There also is a recent post about this topic on the Drinktap.org blog.

“As our communities reopen businesses and other facilities, water service providers must continue to protect public health. We should make our customers aware of the possible water quality impacts from the weeks of sheltering in place,” said Mary Gugliuzza (pictured left), chair of the Public Affairs Committee. “We’re providing these communication tools to help customers safely reoccupy their buildings.”