Indiana American Water Recommends Building Operators and Schools Flush Pipes to Maintain Water Quality

GREENWOOD, IND. – June 4, 2020 – As part of its commitment to keeping customers informed during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Indiana American Water is recommending that building owners and operators adopt a proactive approach to maintaining water quality in their facilities.

As many offices, schools and other buildings have largely been unoccupied during the state’s stay-at-home order, Indiana American Water is encouraging these customers to take steps that include proper flushing procedures, adjustment of hot water temperatures, and proper maintenance of building plumbing and heating/cooling systems.

“With many organizations considering reopening facilities that may have seen extended periods of inactivity that can cause lead leaching or legionella growth in indoor plumbing systems, we are encouraging them to do so in a way that minimizes potential exposure to these contaminants,” said Indiana American Water President Matt Prine. “Incorporating a few simple steps and protocols into reopening plans is essential to maintaining water quality.”

Proper flushing of plumbing systems should be performed biweekly while buildings are closed, if possible, and again in the days immediately prior to opening. The general purpose of flushing is to bring fresh water into all sections of a building.

Flushing should involve running water through all fixtures long enough to replace stagnant water. The time needed to complete this will be location-specific and may range from a few minutes for smaller buildings to more than 30 minutes for larger or more complex plumbing systems. Water quality indicators, such as temperature change or chlorine smell, may be used, where possible, as indicators that fresh water has reached all fixtures within the plumbing system.

Consistent with EPA and industry guidance, Indiana American Water recommends bringing fresh water into the building and flushing individual fixtures, including:
• Toilets—flush at least twice.
• Faucets/Showers—run both hot and cold water at full flow for a least two minutes. Longer times may be needed depending on location.
• Other Appliances/Apparatus—flush thoroughly at full flow to bring fresh water into the system. If you have an appliance such as a refrigerator, soft drink dispenser, or ice maker that has a filter, follow manufacturer instructions to replace water filters after completion of flushing.

When performing a flush, it’s important to continually monitor the facilities to avoid damage from leaks or flooding.

For additional information on system flushing, go to American Water’s Fact Sheet; the Environmental Protection Agency’s Flushing Best Practices; the Center for Disease Control web page; or the American Water Works Association.