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(Hampton Roads, Va., May 8, 2020) – Directors of Hampton Roads’ water utilities and health department officials advise business owners and operators who closed or evacuated buildings due to COVID-19 to thoroughly flush their establishment’s plumbing systems before reopening. “Drinking water systems are designed to support the continuous delivery of safe water. When buildings go unused, so too does the water sitting in pipes,” said Dan Horne, field director at the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Drinking Water. “To make sure drinking water systems are at safe levels of disinfection before employees return to work, it’s important that all of the water in the building be flushed out and replaced with fresh water from the water utility system.”These practices are recommended for schools, daycares, lodging, offices, places of worship, event venues, retail, libraries, museums, restaurants, gyms, healthcare and other facilities which have remained closed during the COVID-19 shutdown.When water is not used, the disinfectant in the water dissipates over time. Without chlorinated water flowing through the pipes for an extended period, microorganisms can grow in water pipes, fixtures and tanks. Prolonged water stagnation also can diminish the normal, protective scale on interior pipe walls. Without the protective scale, metal from the piping may dissolve into the water.During the flushing process, stagnant, existing water is replaced with fresh water, which has been continually treated and monitored by the region’s water utilities throughout the COVID pandemic.To flush water systems in closed buildings, Hampton Roads utility directors advise owners and property managers to follow these steps:Flush cold water first.
Flush hot water second.
Another best practice, especially for schools and daycare facilities, is the removal and thorough cleaning of end-point devices such as drinking fountain filters.According to Horne, “Residential customers and businesses that have continued operations during the pandemic with regular water usage can be assured their water remains safe. For businesses and commercial operations that will be returning to service in the future, this is a reminder to follow the recommended water quality protocols before reopening.”The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published detailed guidance for building water systems for reopening buildings after the shutdown. Hampton Roads business owners and operators seeking additional guidance should contact their local water utility department or visit www.hrpdcva.gov/buildingflushing.About the HRPDC: The Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) is a regional organization established to encourage and facilitate cooperation among local, state and federal governments and agencies to address, on a regional basis, problems or issues that transcend jurisdictional boundaries. Comprised of local elected officials and administration officials, the organization serves the 1.7 million residents and the 17 jurisdictions of the Hampton Roads region regarding topics such as, Transportation, Economics, Emergency Management, Housing, Planning and Water Resources.
Whitney Katchmark, HRPDC
Principal Water Resources Engineer
(757) 515-5600; email@example.com