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TDEC Encourages Steps To Address Stagnant Water in Buildings

Friday, May 01, 2020 | 11:24am

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is encouraging facilities that have been vacant for an extended period to use guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure optimal water quality in buildings.

“As Tennesseans return to buildings that have been unoccupied during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to recognize that water quality in those buildings can be affected by lack of use,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “We advocate guidelines, such as flushing water systems, that are designed to address this issue.”

When buildings are vacant for extended periods, stagnation of the water in the pipes can result in deteriorated water quality, such as the loss of disinfectant residual, increased disinfection by-products, microbial growth such as Legionella, and increases in metals such as lead. When water service is returned to a building after an extended period of non-use, it is important to address the stagnant water in the building’s plumbing to ensure safe drinking water.

The CDC has published measures to help minimize the risk of diseases associated with water that has likely become stagnant in many buildings. They include:

  • Develop a comprehensive water management program for your water system, including steps to prevent Legionnaire’s Disease
  • Ensure your water heater is properly maintained and the temperature is correctly set
  • Flush your water system
  • Clean all decorative water features, such as fountains
  • Ensure hot tubs and spas are safe
  • Ensure cooling towers are clean and well-maintained
  • Ensure safety equipment including fire sprinkler systems, eye wash stations, and safety showers are cleaned and well-maintained
  • Maintain your water system

Details on these guidelines can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html.

Additional resources can be found at the following links:

https://www.asdwa.org/2020/04/13/covid-19-resources-for-building-water-systems/

https://www.waterrf.org/resource/evaluation-flushing-reduce-lead-levels-0

https://engineering.purdue.edu/PlumbingSafety/project

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-09/documents/flushing_best_practices_factsheet_508.pdf