A large number of UK businesses have been forced to close since the government introduced emergency restrictions to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19) and many businesses that have been able to keep trading throughout the crisis have done so with reduced staffing levels and little to no customer interaction.

It follows that water usage in UK businesses over the past couple of months has dramatically decreased, leaving water systems stagnant in places of work across the country. This blog will provide guidance to business customers on the steps required to restore drinking water systems once access to your premises is permitted once again.

As we look towards the easing of government restrictions, some businesses may find themselves able to consider the possibility of reopening and welcoming back staff, and eventually customers, over the coming weeks and months. As part of this, it is vitally important that considerations are given to the quality of water contained within systems that may have become an afterthought during the crisis.

What are the risks of stagnant water systems?

With many UK businesses having little to no staff on-site for the duration of the lockdown period, the low usage of mains water can have several implications on the quality of drinking water. Water tank systems may have seen water in storage tanks untouched for many weeks now. Water left to sit inside systems may have warmed during this period, encouraging microbiological regrowth. The longer water sits within the pipework, the higher chance it has of absorbing plumbing metals. Clearly, this points towards an adverse quality of drinking water and potential health risks.


How can I keep my drinking water fresh and minimise health risks?

As businesses begin to explore how they will reopen to staff and members of the public, it is vitally important that building owners, head of facilities and office managers consider the dangers of a stagnant water system and begin to restore the flow of fresh water in their workplace. There are some simple steps that can be taken to recommission your drinking water system. Water UK advises the following:

  • To ensure that the water in your plumbing system is fresh, run all taps individually, starting with the tap nearest to where the water enters the building and moving systematically to the most distant outlet. It should be sufficient to run until the water is clear and feels cool to the touch. Where water is supplied from storage, storage cisterns should be emptied and filled with water direct from the incoming supply, before the taps are flushed;
  • Flushing should be carried out in a manner which minimises aerosol generation, e.g. removing shower heads prior to flushing, to reduce the risks of Legionella transmission. Safety considerations should be made for those flushing including appropriate PPE;
  • Ensure that all appliances are also thoroughly flushed through before use, using the manufacturer’s instruction manual;
  • If the premises has any internal filters or water softeners, these should be checked to ensure they are working correctly as outlined in the manufacturer’s instruction manual;
  • Ensure that if plumbers are required to make any changes or repairs to the plumbing system that approved plumbers under the WaterSafe scheme are used;
  • Confirmatory testing is widely available for water systems.

tap check

Larger premises’ with more complex pipework may require more thorough flushing followed by rigorous disinfection and cleaning. In such cases, it may be wise to contact your water retailer for more information on how to best meet your requirements.

Here at Castle Water, we understand that every business is different and each one has specific water and wastewater requirements. We offer an individual, responsive service, whether you’re a small company simply looking for a water provider or you’re a large industrial customer with complex trade effluent needs. Find out more about our water and wastewater services.