Owners of Businesses Closed Due to COVID-19 Should Flush Building’s Plumbing Systems Before Workers Return
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 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.
Cold and Hot Water Flush (PDF)
Guidance for Flushing Building Plumbing Systems After Prolonged Shutdown (PDF)
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.
|Locality/Agency||COVID-19 Water Flushing Utility Contacts|
|Chesapeake||Mr. David Jurgens||Director of Utilities||(757) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Franklin||Mr. Russell Pace||Director||(757) email@example.com|
|Gloucester||Mr. Chris Dawson||Director of Public Utilities||(804) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Hampton||Ms. Cyndi Masterstaff||Public Education Coordinator||(757) 926-1062||CMasterstaff@nnva.gov|
|Isle of Wight||Mr. Donald Jennings||General Services Director||(757) email@example.com|
|James City||Mr. Mike Youshock||Civil Engineer||(757) 259-5451||Mike.Youshock@jamescitycountyva.gov|
|Newport News||Ms. Cyndi Masterstaff||Public Education Coordinator||(757) 926-1062||CMasterstaff@nnva.gov|
|Norfolk||Ms. Mary Keough||Management Services Administrator||(757) 664-6758||Mary.Keough@norfolk.gov|
|Portsmouth||Ms. Sandra Raphael||Water Quality Superintendent||(757) 539-2201 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Poquoson||Mr. Chad Krejcarek||Superintendent||(757) email@example.com|
|Smithfield||Mr. Jessie Snead||Superintendent of Public Works||(757) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Southampton||Mr. David Howell||Maintenance Supervisor||(757)email@example.com|
|Suffolk||Ms. Vicki Smith||Quality Laboratory Manager||(757) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Virginia Beach||Ms. Susan Sadowski||Utility Laboratory Supervisor||(757) email@example.com|
|Williamsburg||Mr. Joe Wenger||Water Plant Superintendent||(757) firstname.lastname@example.org|
|York||Mr. Brian K. Woodward||Director of Public Works||(757) email@example.com|
|Virginia Department of Health||Mr. Daniel Horne||Field Director, Office of Drinking Water||(757) 683-2000||Daniel.Horne@vdh.virginia.gov|