Water tips for temporarily closed businesses

If your business has temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus, remember that you’re still responsible for the building and the water pipework/equipment within it. 

Water problems can arise if water in your pipe systems has stagnated. Bacteria such as legionella can grow in reduced or low flows of water, and water can absorb this and other unwanted materials making it unsafe. It’s not only a problem for drinking water – it’s important to have good quality water for other purposes, like cleaning systems or ornamental water features, because they can release bacteria into the air through splashes and sprays. 

In order to protect your employees, customers or visitors, it’s important to keep monitoring your water in the ways you usually would and to identify and mitigate any risks before you fully re-open. Your water safety plan should cover any outlet that uses water for purposes like: drinking, hot and cold supplies, clinical and industrial processes, swimming pools, water features, etc. 

Here’s some tips from us to make sure your water is safe now, or for when your staff return to work.

If your business is still open

If you’re still using water, but are operating at a reduced capacity with fewer people at work, you should:

•    Carry on with all monitoring tasks (for example, things like temperature monitoring, shower and spray tap descaling, water vessel inspections).
•    If possible, drop stored water levels in tanks to less than 24hrs of storage.
•    Flush all outlets to stimulate use regularly – weekly flushing might not be enough.
•    Consider temporarily increasing the levels of your water treatment dose.
•    If the controls of your temperature or biocide levels are lost, sample for legionella weekly.
•    Consider other short-term measures, like shutting off some areas.


If your business is temporarily closed

If your business is temporarily closed and part of the building or water system has been taken out of use, you must still make sure legionella or microbial growth are controlled whilst the system is out of use. You should:

•    Not drain down your pipework – it can cause biofilm and corrosion.
•    Remove sources of heat and external thermal gain (if possible).
•    Lock off doors, place signage and advise potential users that the system is out of use.
•    Have a plan in place for recommissioning the water system.
•    Check for leaks or dripping taps, to make sure you won’t be adding up costs in wasted water while you’re away.

When your business re-opens

Mains fed supplies


If your water is supplied directly from the water mains, it’s likely you’ll have minimal stagnation because not much water is stored inside the building. However, it’s a good idea to purge your system before using it, by running each water outlet for at least 2 minutes to flush it out.

Water systems and storage fed supplies


Before using your water system again, it’s important to recommission the system as though it were new (taking steps like thoroughly flushing, cleaning and disinfecting) before you use it again. Hot water systems are particularly at risk of legionella. After a system clean and disinfection, you should take samples. These samples should:

•    Be for either microbiological assessments, chemical analysis or on-site testing.
•    Be fully representative of the distribution system (including sub-branches and tanks/cisterns).
•    Evaluate the conditions (like whether cleaning processes have been completed and the efficiency of the disinfectant).
•    Be taken in a frequency that takes into account growth rates of potential microbial growth.


It might also be worth considering a full site assessment to make sure your outlets and water fixtures are safe for use, get in touch to see how we can help with this.

Industrial premises


If water is used as part of your industrial processes, you’ll need to follow the specialist advice and procedures for your individual process needs. If your system flushing is likely to use a high amount of water, or cause a lot of trade effluent, please contact your water wholesaler to warn them and agree a time to do this that won’t disrupt the water supply to the surrounding area.

Pubs/breweries and kitchen/restaurant businesses


Unfortunately, you may find you need to dispose of stock upon your return. However, if you need to get rid of things like beer or milk please don't pour this down the drains straightaway - it could surcharge sewers, cause flooding, or create problems at the water treatment works. Your water wholesaler needs to be aware so they're able to treat this safely. Please give us a call on 0345 072 6072.

If your business uses an automatic grease trap and your site has temporarily closed, then there’s important steps to take so your business can get back up to speed quickly on your return. It’s not a good idea to leave a grease trap running, or full of waste. Waste will attract vermin and the congealed waste, without regular kitchen flows, could cause permanent damage. To prepare your automatic grease trap for kitchen shutdown you should:

•    Add water – your automatic grease trap should be full of water before shutdown.
•    Unplug – don’t run your automatic grease trap without regular kitchen flows.
•    Set a reminder – so you won’t forget to re-plug it in when the kitchen is back in use.

We're here to help

If you need any further advice and support we’ve got information on how we're supporting our customers through Coronavirus.

If you’re interested in how you could cut down water costs at your business, measure your water use, check for leaks, or more why not check out our advanced water services.

If you have any concerns about your water account, we’re still here to help and you can get in touch with us as usual. If you’re a small/medium business, you can call us on 0345 072 6072 or email us using the email address on your bill. If you’re a larger key customer, you can call our key accounts team on 0345 072 6073 or email keyaccountmanagement@water-plus.co.uk.

 

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