- January 17, 2023
- Posted by: Water Hygiene Services
- Category: Company News, Legionella
5 tips for keeping your water system safe in 2023
Keeping water systems safe is paramount for public health and the environment. Water systems include everythi
ng from our drinking water sources to the treatment and distribution of that water to homes and businesses. Ensuring the safety of these systems requires a multi-faceted approach that includes regular testing, monitoring, and maintenance, as well as emergency response plans in the event of contamination or other crisis.
Here are our five top tips for keeping your water system safe in 2023
- Check hot temperatures
Ensure that hot water is delivered to all outlets at a minimum of 50°C within 1 minute of flushing (55°C in healthcare). For larger systems, set the hot water storage to at least 60°C.
2. Check your cold temperatures.
Ensure cold water is stored at a temperature below 20°C. Whether stored in the water tank or supplied directly from mains cold water should be delivered at a temperature below 20°C within 2 minutes of flushing the tap.
3. Check your cleaning regime
Limescale, sediment, corrosion, and biofilms provide nutrients for legionella bacteria. Ensuring the system is clean reduces the risk of organisms growing in your buildings.
4. Check usage
Like when the UK and other countries came out of lockdown and buildings and water systems were left unused, you must check when the system was last used. Reduced usage may lead to stagnation, which can lead to bacterial growth. You can do this by checking the water turnover on the water systems is sufficient. As a general rule outlets should be used at least once a week. If they aren’t they should be flushed weekly. Where possible, remove all unused outlets.
5. Check your plan
If you have a legionella control plan and legionella risk assessment in place and follow the guidance, including the regular checks, the water system you manage should be compliant. However, if your building has been unused for example, following lockdown or for annual holidays such as Christmas, you must pay close attention to the above points.
Water Standards in 2023
Water industry standards are the key to safe water for public use and consumption in 2023, and compliance is key.
Water temperature control is the primary method used to control the risk of Legionella. Therefore water services must be operated at temperatures that prevent Legionella growth and must follow these water standards:
Hot water storage cylinders (calorifiers) should store water at 60°C or higher
Hot water should be distributed at 50°C or higher (thermostatic mixer valves must be fitted as close as possible to outlets, where a scald risk is identified).
Cold water should be stored and distributed below 20°C.
It is essential that a competent person routinely checks, inspects, and cleans the system according to the legionella risk assessment.
The responsible person must identify ‘sentinel’ outlets (furthest and closest to each tank or cylinder) for monthly checking of the distribution temperatures. In addition, the hot water storage cylinder temperatures must also be checked monthly, and the cold water tank temperatures must be checked at least every six months.
Water samples should be analysed for Legionella periodically to demonstrate that bacteria counts are acceptable. The level of risk should determine the frequency in accordance with the legionella risk assessment.
Are there Legionella risks in my workplace?
Any water system, with the proper environmental conditions, could be a source for legionella bacteria growth. There is likely a foreseeable legionella risk if your water system:
has a water temperature between 20–45 °C
creates and spreads breathable droplets, e.g., aerosol created by a cooling tower, or water outlets
stores and re-circulates water
likely to contain a source of nutrients for the organism to grow, e.g. rust, sludge, scale, organic matter, and biofilms
The most common sources of Legionella are in artificial water systems, including:
- cooling tower and evaporative condensers
- hot and cold water systems
- spa pools
Several other potential risk systems may pose a risk to exposure to Legionella, e.g., humidifiers, air washers, emergency showers, indoor ornamental fountains, etc.
If you are an employer or someone in control of premises (e.g., landlord), you must understand and manage legionella risks. All systems require a risk assessment, but not all systems require elaborate control measures. For example, a simple legionella risk assessment may show low risks if the water system is managed correctly to comply with the law. If such cases, your assessment may be complete, and you may not need to take any further action, but it is essential to review your assessment regularly in case anything changes in your system.
One of the most critical aspects of keeping water systems safe is ensuring the quality of the source water. This includes protecting surface water sources, such as lakes and rivers, from pollution and monitoring and treating groundwater sources. This can include efforts such as preventing agricultural or industrial runoff from entering water sources and monitoring and treating sources for naturally-occurring contaminants such as arsenic or radon.
Water Testing and Monitoring
Another important step in keeping water systems safe is regular testing and monitoring of both the source water and the treated water that is distributed to homes and businesses. This can include testing for various contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. It is important to have a regular testing schedule in place and promptly address any issues identified through testing.
In addition to testing and monitoring, regular maintenance and upgrades to water treatment facilities and distribution systems are also crucial for ensuring the safety of our water systems. This can include everything from regular cleaning and disinfection of treatment facilities to replacing aging pipes and infrastructure.
Do you have an emergency response plan in case of contamination or other crisis? These plans should include protocols for quickly identifying and addressing the source of the problem, as well as procedures for communicating with the public and providing alternative sources of safe drinking water if necessary.
Water Systems Safe
Overall, keeping water systems safe requires a multi-faceted approach that includes protecting and monitoring source water, regular testing and monitoring of treated water, regular maintenance and upgrades to treatment and distribution systems, and emergency response plans. By taking these steps, we can help ensure that the water we rely on for our health and well-being is safe and clean.
In conclusion, keeping water systems safe is essential for public health and the environment. It requires a multi-faceted approach that includes protecting and monitoring source water, regular testing and monitoring of treated water, regular maintenance and upgrades to treatment and distribution systems, and emergency response plans. Everyone has a role to play in ensuring the safety of our water systems, from government agencies and water utilities to individuals, businesses, and communities.
Discuss your job and legal requirements
Contact us today to discuss your water standards in 2023 or if you would like further information on the services we offer.