The City of West Bend Water Utility is advising building managers and operators to flush their water systems as they prepare to reopen storefronts and businesses that have been closed for several weeks. With minimal water running through building pipes and fixtures, stagnant water conditions can result in discolored water, lower chlorine levels, and higher concentrations of lead and copper.
To address these concerns, the West Bend Water Utility is raising awareness among customers about guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to safely prepare water systems and end-use devices before reopening buildings or facilities. Fresh water should be drawn into building water systems and stagnant water flushed out before reopening.
Each building’s water system is unique. Flushing instructions will vary depending on the structure. However, key elements of existing protocols include:
- Remove or bypass devices like point-of-entry treatment units prior to flushing.
- Take steps to prevent backflow or the siphoning of contaminants into plumbing. Close valves separating irrigation systems from home plumbing and disconnect hoses attached to faucets.
- Organize flushing to maximize the flow of water by opening all outlets simultaneously to flush the service line and then flushing outlets individually starting near where the water enters the structure.
- Run enough water through all outlets (i.e. hose bibs, faucets, showerheads, toilets, etc.), removing aerators when possible. Typical durations in existing protocols range from 10 to 30 minutes for each outlet.
- Flush the cold water lines first and then the hot water lines. The hot water tank can be drained directly and can require roughly 45 minutes to fully flush a typical 40-gallon unit.
- Replace all point-of-use filters, including the filter in refrigerators.
- Additional precautions may be warranted if there is excessive disruption of pipe scale or if there are concerns about biofilm development. Actions that might be warranted include use of bottled water, installation of a point-of-use device, or engaging a contractor to thoroughly clean the plumbing system.
Please direct questions regarding the information above to Travis Thull, Water Utility Manager, at 262-335-5040 or email@example.com.