GETTING READY TO REOPEN A BUSINESS? MAKE SURE YOU INCLUDE FLUSHING YOUR APPLIANCES AS PART OF YOUR PLAN
BUSINESS OWNERS SHOULD FLUSH ALL APPLIANCES THAT USE WATER NOW OR BEFORE REOPENING TO REPLACE ANY STAGNANT WATER THAT MIGHT HAVE HAD DISINFECTANTS DISSIPATE OR BECOME UNDETECTABLE WHILE CLOSED
BOLIVIA, N.C. – With the Governor’s Stay at Home Order and Executive Order No. 120 requiring several businesses to close for several weeks, business and building owners are encouraged to take steps to prepare their pipes for increased water use as they reopen according to the Governor’s three-phase approach to lifting restrictions due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
If water is not being used for a longer period of time, the water held in a building’s pipes can become stagnant. Disinfectants in the water, such as chlorine, will likely dissipate or become undetectable.
“These kinds of conditions increase the chance that waterborne bacteria has grown and spread in the water sitting in the pipes,” Public Utilities Director John Nichols said. “Business owners and employees can easily remedy this through simple but necessary actions to ensure the water in the building has recently been treated with disinfectants and is taste- or odor-free before resuming their normal water use.”
The best immediate action is to flush the entire building, including all water-using appliances such as ice machines and dishwashers. Flushing clears out the low-quality water that accumulates during low use and replaces it with higher quality water from the main water supply. The fresh water will also help mitigate other problems (e.g., loss of protective scale and biofilm growth) that might have emerged while the water was stagnant.
If staff are available to flush your buildings’ water lines, you are encouraged to start now. Run enough water through all outlets (e.g., hoses, faucets, shower heads, toilets, etc.) and remove aerators when possible. Typical protocols require running water for 10 to 30 minutes for each outlet (duration varies based on outlet velocity). In most cases, flushing with water that has normal amounts of chlorine (the chlorine already in the water supply) is sufficient for cleaning the water system.
The scientists and engineers at the Environmental Science, Policy and Research Institute (ESPRI) and AH Environmental Consultants, Inc. (AH) developed a brief guidance material to help those who are responsible for maintaining building water systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has detailed information on reactivating plumbing systems after dormant conditions at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html
For additional questions about flushing appliances that use water, contact Brunswick County Public Utilities at 910.253.2657 (option 1) or email [email protected]
IMPORTANCE OF WATER AND WASTEWATER ACCESS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
In these uncertain times, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided an urgent reminder that access to water and wastewater services is essential and fundamental to all aspects of life and society. Brunswick County’s two drinking water treatment plants are designed to filter and kill all kinds of viruses including COVID-19. The Environmental Protection Agency mandates through the Safe Drinking Water Act that all drinking water treatment facilities in the United States must be designed and built to inactivate viruses and bacteria.
We also want to remind you to help us maintain and care for our utility infrastructure now and always. This means only flushing human waste and toilet paper down the toilet; even if they are marked as a flushable product, items such as wipes and hygiene products can clog our system and should go in the trash. Also, refrain from pouring fats, oils and grease from food or other products down the sink, as this can also cause clogs and other problems for our system. Thank you for helping your Public Utilities team protect our water and wastewater infrastructure during this critical time.