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Keeping things moving

How to keep drinking water flowing – and stop legionella in its tracks

The coronavirus has brought the country to a standstill – and with it numerous drinking water installations. Flushing the supply pipes on a regular basis keeps the water hygienically fresh.

If drinking water installations are not used, microorganisms – such as legionella – can build up in the pipes in certain circumstances. In the worst case, legionella can cause lung diseases. However, these microorganisms are not big fans of running water, which prevents legionella and other undesirable germs and bacteria from multiplying. As the enforced lockdown has indirectly led to supply systems coming to an abrupt halt – especially in schools, hotels and restaurants – facility managers and technical services must ensure that operations are not disrupted. In other words, they have to make sure that water flows regularly.

Operational disruptions

An operational disruption is when a system is not used for more than 72 hours, and must be avoided at all costs. In order to avoid exposing users to risks caused by contaminated water, the requirements for proper operation of drinking water installations remain in place. Various standards and regulations detail this situation and its consequences in more detail.

There are several solutions for ensuring the quality of drinking water in this extraordinary situation. One of these is the Geberit sanitary flush unit Rapid, which flushes the pipe systems automatically on a regular basis. However, not all buildings are equipped with such solutions, meaning facility managers should have a couple of different solutions up their sleeve depending on the scenario.

Type of interruption and measures to be taken

Interruption in normal operation

- Open all taps and fittings

- Ensure the drinking water is completely exchanged in the system and system parts

- Let the water run at least until the temperature becomes stable

Interruption of longer than four weeks

- Flush and clean the system according to local regulations

Interruption of longer than six months

- Flush and clean the system according to local regulations

- Test the system for legionella according to local regulations

- In the event of microbial contamination, take the necessary measures according to local regulations