Flush water systems and follow CDC and EPA Guidelines
When water sits stagnant in pipes and tanks within buildings, water quality issues can arise. We are advising customers to flush stale water from building water systems as they reopen after low- or no use of the water. Building owners should follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance.
On Thursday, May 28, 2020, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm, the Water Research Foundation (WRF) will hold a free webcast “Impact of Prolonged Shutdown on Buildings from a Water Quality Perspective.”
Water standing in pipes for a prolonged period of time can lead to discolored water, lower levels of chlorine and higher concentrations of lead and copper. The CDC says the lack of chlorinated water flow and irregular temperature changes may lead to bacteria growth.
Businesses should prioritize plumbing on the “reopen” list. MWW recommends asking for quotes from professional plumbers, and hiring a professional plumber to help meet regulations designed to protect public safety.
If not immediately reopening during stay-at-home orders, building owners and operators should actively use water and flush building water systems (e.g., cold, hot, mechanical systems, toilets, sinks, etc.). Check for leaks in pipes and fixtures. The cost to flush plumbing is far less costly than a repair later.
COVID-19 is not found in Milwaukee’s water source, Lake Michigan. The utility’s ozone and chlorine disinfection processes kill viruses, including COVID-19. The water is also treated with biologically active filtration.
MWW regularly flushes its 20,000 fire hydrants to clean them, ensure the turbidity, or amount of solids, is low, and the chlorine levels are sufficient to protect the water from contaminants it may come in contact with.
We recently published a year’s worth of water quality data that show Milwaukee tap water meets all federal and state requirements. In compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, the report is found here Milwaukee.gov/WaterConsumerConfidenceReport
Resources for Safe Maintenance and Reopening of Water Fixtures
CDC Toolkit: Developing a Water Management Program to Reduce Legionella Growth and Spread in Buildings
The EPA has distributed “Information on Maintaining or Restoring Water Quality in Buildings with Low or No Use” to assist building owners and managers in addressing water stagnation during extended closures.
MWW treats and pumps nearly 100 million gallons of water a day, testing and monitoring continuously. We provide water to 16 communities in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Waukesha Counties.
These include Milwaukee, Brown Deer, Butler, Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Shorewood, St. Francis, Wauwatosa, West Allis, and West Milwaukee. We also provide water to the Milwaukee County Grounds facilities and portions of Menomonee Falls, Mequon, New Berlin, and Thiensville.