The safety of your drinking water is our number one priority. Customers can be assured that our water is safe to drink. However, when buildings are closed or sparsely occupied for extended periods, such as many have been during the coronavirus pandemic, the water in plumbing systems can become stagnant. This can reduce the quality of the water and can make it potentially unhealthy.
In accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other industry guidance, Columbia Water recommends the following steps be taken to restore normal water quality in plumbing system before reopening any closed building for occupation:
- Flush the entire plumbing system by opening all taps, including faucets, drinking water fountains and bottle fillers, showers and tubs, and by flushing all toilets and urinals. Both hot and cold water taps should be flushed until they reach a steady temperature. This may take up to ten minutes in large buildings for taps that are far from the location where the water service line enters the building. Be careful not to create a lot of splashing when flushing taps, as aerosols from flushing can contain unhealthy bacteria.
- Empty icemakers and dispose of their contents. Flush the water line to each icemaker and also dispose of any ice made within the first 24 hours after flushing.
- Drain and clean water storage facilities and hot water heaters.
- In order to maintain continued protection against the coronavirus, regularly disinfect frequently touched areas of water fixtures like faucet handles, water fountain and bottle filler push buttons/bars and spouts, and toilet and urinal flush handles.
For additional resources on preparing your building for occupancy, please visit these other sites:
- EPA Guidance: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/information-maintaining-or-restoring-water-quality-buildings-low-or-no-use
- CDC Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html
- AWWA Return to Service Guidance/Flushing Guidance: https://www.awwa.org/Resources-Tools/Resource-Topics/Coronavirus#10681543-shutoffs-and-return-to-service-guidance
- SC Department of Health and Environmental Control COVID-19 Page: gov/COVID19