After COVID-19 Closures, Stagnant On-Property Plumbing Systems in Commercial Buildings Pose Serious Health Risks

| News Release



Water Pipes and Fixtures in Buildings Must be Thoroughly Flushed
to Avoid Legionnaires’ and Other Illnesses

Laurel, Md. – May 28, 2020 – Because COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have forced many commercial buildings to close, the water in these facilities’ plumbing systems can become stagnant – leading to serious health risks for returning employees and occupants. WSSC Water is urging building or property managers to thoroughly flush their water pipes in preparation for their reopening. 
Stagnant water can lead to bacterial growth such as Legionella (cause of Legionnaires’ disease), as well as other serious illnesses. Flushing a building’s water system will replace any stagnant water and will help ensure safe, clean water continues to flow.
WSSC Water has developed these recommendations to restore building water quality after closures. Steps for reopening a building include:
  • Notify all building occupants not to use or consume water until flushing is complete;
  • Remove and clean all aerators (leave aerators off during flushing); clean all faucets and showerheads; discard any accumulated ice;
  • Flush hot and cold water through all points of use (e.g., showers and sink faucets);
  • Flushing may need to occur in segments (e.g., floors and individual rooms) in large buildings; 
  • Perform flushing with proper ventilation and personal protective equipment. Care should be taken to avoid inhaling water droplets, especially from shower heads; and
  • Other water-using devices, such as water tanks, may require other cleaning steps in addition to flushing. 
Property owners are responsible for maintaining the quality of water in building plumbing systems and internal water quality. Consult a WSSC Water licensed plumber, licensed engineer, or personnel that specializes in building water management for assistance with carrying out these recommendations. 
WSSC Water offers the following additional resources:
Customers with water quality questions or concerns should call WSSC Water at 301-206-4002 or email waterqualityinquiry@wsscwater.com.

WSSC Water is the proud provider of safe, seamless and satisfying water services, making the essential possible every day for our neighbors in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. We work to deliver our best because it’s what our customers expect and deserve.

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