New NPI resource provides information on safe reopening of building plumbing following pandemic closures

May 14, 2021

When buildings have had low or no water use – for example, during COVID-19 pandemic closures – it is important to restart building plumbing systems safely. UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) partnered with Purdue University Center for Plumbing Safety to produce an information sheet on how to safely reopen building plumbing following pandemic closures. Before sending water out, the public water utility undertakes a variety of treatments to ensure that tap water meets federal and state standards. These include corrosion control to prevent lead from flaking or leaching out of any lead-containing pipes, and disinfectants (usually chlorine) to inhibit microbial growth. However, these protections break down when water is not flowing, such as when taps are not in regular use. A simple but specialized flushing program is recommended to remove any stagnant water or bacterial buildup in the plumbing system. The information sheet briefly explains the problem and provides a list of resources targeted to the owners or operators of large buildings, particularly schools. A webinar, checklists for reopening plumbing, and downloadable flushing plans are among the resource links provided. The information sheet is available online.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement