AWWA Utility Advisory – COVID-19 Guidance for Building Water Systems released







Utility Advisory

Who: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What: COVID-19 Guidance for Building Water Systems released
When: April 3

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis resources to include guidance to ensure the safety of building water systems and devices after a prolonged shutdown. The CDC materials emphasize managing the production of Legionella and reference existing resources, such as the Toolkit: Developing a Water Management Program to Reduce Legionella Growth and Spread in Buildings.

Some building owners/operators, like healthcare facilities, are subject to existing Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidance and will have business continuity plans or Legionella control plans that address building water safety but many will not. Water systems should additionally be prepared for questions from building owners/operators managing hotels, schools, childcare facilities, office buildings and public buildings.

Building owners/operators should take steps to reduce degradation of water quality in building water systems, including:

•     Active measures to use water in buildings during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders; and
•     Flushing of building water systems (e.g., cold, hot, mechanical systems, etc.) as these orders end.

Building owners will need information regarding:

•     Whether a water system maintains a free chlorine or chloramine residual disinfectant;
•     Current residual disinfectant levels;
•     Updates on any scheduled free chlorine periods in systems employing chloramines; and
•     Any measures the water system is taking to maintain disinfectant residual levels in portions of the distribution systems with reduced utilization due to COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

There may be a need to raise awareness about lead and copper or other local water quality considerations.

Please note: Individual states have already, or may in the future, distribute state-specific guidance regarding the flushing of building water systems. Water systems should remain very aware of such state-specific instructions.

Visit AWWA’s Coronavirus Resource page for more information and resources on COVID-19.

Questions should be directed to Steve Via, AWWA’s director of federal relations.