New York American Water Recommends Large Building Operators and Schools Flush Pipes Regularly to Maintain Water Quality

Company Recommends Proper Maintenance Protocols to Help Maintain Water Quality in Unoccupied Buildings

Merrick, NY, May 5, 2020 – New York American Water remains committed to keeping customers informed as it continues to deliver safe and reliable water service during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

As many offices, schools and other large buildings are largely unoccupied during the state’s stay-at-home order, New York American Water encourages large building owners and operators to adopt a proactive approach that includes proper flushing procedures, adjustment of hot water temperature, and proper maintenance of building plumbing and heating/cooling systems. Proper flushing of plumbing before reoccupying these buildings is essential to maintain water quality in the internal plumbing system and should be performed biweekly while the building is closed, if possible, and again the days immediately prior to opening.

“Extended periods of inactivity can cause lead leaching or legionella growth in indoor plumbing systems, so it is essential to take proper steps to help minimize potential exposure to both these contaminants,” said New York American Water President Lynda DiMenna. “These procedures will help in making sure water systems and equipment are in working order.”

The general purpose of flushing is to bring fresh water into all sections of a building. This will require running water through all fixtures long enough to replace stagnant water. The time needed to complete this is location-specific and may range from a few minutes for smaller buildings to more than 30 minutes for larger or more complex plumbing systems. When performing a flush, remember to continually monitor the facilities and open fixtures to avoid damage from leaks or flooding.

Consistent with EPA and industry guidance, New York American Water recommends bringing fresh water into the building, and flushing individual fixtures, including:

  • Toilets: Flush at least twice
  • Faucets: Run both hot and cold water at full flow for at least 2 minutes. Longer times may be needed depending on location.
  • Showers: Run both hot and cold water at full flow for at least 2 minutes. Longer times may be needed depending on location.
  • Other Appliances/Apparatus: Flush other appliances and apparatus thoroughly, at full flow, bringing fresh water into the system. If you have an appliance such as a refrigerator or ice maker that has a filter, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to replace water filters after completion of flushing.

For additional information on flushing you can 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.


New York American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water company in New York, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 350,000 people.

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to more than 15 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow New York American Water on Facebook and Twitter.