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Indoor Water Quality Requires Proactive Maintenance After Prolonged Shutdowns

Flushing systems necessary to prevent health risks

As businesses, institutions and schools reopen after prolonged shutdowns, San Antonio Water System is reminding commercial customers that indoor water systems should be properly flushed after extended periods of little or no use to prevent potential public health risks.

Water stagnation inside buildings can lead to harmless but discolored water. However, in some extreme cases, stagnation can lead to bacterial growth in building plumbing systems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends proactive steps to protect indoor building water quality before reopening.

“We strongly recommend flushing all sinks, toilets, faucets, and showers for several minutes before consuming the water or using it to cook,” said Scott Halty, Water Resources Protection and Compliance director. “If the water is initially discolored or cloudy, the water should be flushed until the water continues to flow clear, and then for several minutes after the water has cleared up. If the water does not clear after extensive flushing please reach out to us for assistance.”

Advice from the EPA includes:

  • Inspecting your plumbing to ensure good condition.
  • Flushing your water system, including both hot and cold water at all points of use. It’s important to flush the service line that runs from the water main to the building first.
  • Ensuring your water heater is properly maintained and the temperature is correctly set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Ensuring safety equipment including fire sprinkler systems, eye wash stations, and safety showers are clean and well maintained.
  • Maintaining water treatment systems in the building such as filters or water softeners.
  • Discarding ice from ice machines should be done initially until the system is flushed.

For more detailed information on water system flushing, please visit the EPA’s designated webpage at epa.gov/coronavirus.