West Virginia American Water recommends large building operators flush pipes to maintain water quality

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – West Virginia American Water remains committed to keeping our customers informed as we continue to deliver safe, reliable water and wastewater services to our customers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. As the state announces its steps for reopening, the company encourages large building owners and operators to adopt a proactive approach that includes flushing stagnant water from facility pipes.

Extended periods of inactivity can impact water quality and increase the risk of lead leaching and legionella growth in a building’s water system. Taking proper steps can help minimize potential exposure to these contaminants. As buildings reopen, businesses, school districts and property management teams will begin the process of restarting facility systems that have been dormant for a significant amount of time. These reopening procedures should include ensuring that the facility’s water systems and equipment are in working order.

Proper flushing procedures can assure the presence of disinfectant residuals that decrease in water over time. Additional steps should include the adjustment of hot water temperature and proper maintenance of building plumbing and heating/cooling systems. Proper flushing of plumbing before reoccupying these buildings is essential to maintain water quality and should be performed biweekly, if possible, while the building is closed and again the weekend before opening.

Consistent with EPA and industry guidance, West Virginia American Water recommends the flushing of pipes to maintain water quality, including:

  • Toilets: Flush at least twice (this will help to move fresh water through the plumbing)
  • Faucets: Run at full flow for at least 2 minutes
  • Showers: Run at full flow for at least 2 minutes
  • Other Appliances/Apparatus: We recommend flushing other appliances and apparatus thoroughly, at full flow, bringing fresh water into the system. Preferably run the water until the smell of chlorine is present. If you have an appliance, such as a refrigerator or ice maker, that has a filter, follow manufacturer’s instructions for replacing water filters upon completion of flushing.

For additional information on flushing, please reference American Water’s fact sheet; the Environmental Protection Agency’s Flushing Best Practices; the Center for Disease Control web page; or the American Water Works Association.

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