Posts

Water Systems in Closed Buildings May Require Flushing and Testing

Plumbing systems in buildings closed or vacant for long periods may need to be flushed to safely remove stagnant water.

Water provided by the San Diego Water Authority and its 24 member agencies continues to meet all state and federal drinking water standards. But after water leaves the agencies’ distribution systems and enters private service connections, the water quality can deteriorate if water becomes stagnant.

Most commercial and industrial buildings have been partially occupied even during the COVID-19 shutdown, and HVAC and water systems continue to be maintained and operated even though many employees are working remotely. However, building owners and managers should take special care with plumbing systems in buildings that have been vacant or have had periods of low water use to protect the public and employees returning to work.

That’s because plumbing systems must be actively managed and maintained to prevent bacteria growth. Bacteria can flourish in pipes, fixtures and associated equipment (like fountains, cooling towers and HVAC systems) that aren’t used for several days. Schools, for example, commonly flush pipes before kids and teachers return from breaks.

Plumbing systems-stagnant water-Shutterstock-Coronavirus

Water Systems in Closed Buildings May Require Flushing and Testing

Plumbing systems in buildings closed or vacant for long periods may need to be flushed to safely remove stagnant water.

Water provided by the San Diego Water Authority and its 24 member agencies continues to meet all state and federal drinking water standards. But after water leaves the agencies’ distribution systems and enters private service connections, the water quality can deteriorate if water becomes stagnant.

Most commercial and industrial buildings have been partially occupied even during the COVID-19 shutdown, and HVAC and water systems continue to be maintained and operated even though many employees are working remotely. However, building owners and managers should take special care with plumbing systems in buildings that have been vacant or have had periods of low water use to protect the public and employees returning to work.

That’s because plumbing systems must be actively managed and maintained to prevent bacteria growth. Bacteria can flourish in pipes, fixtures and associated equipment (like fountains, cooling towers and HVAC systems) that aren’t used for several days. Schools, for example, commonly flush pipes before kids and teachers return from breaks.

Building owners should prepare plumbing systems

Water agencies and other organizations are providing public notice about plumbing safety; however, it is the responsibility of building owners and managers to address any related issues on their own properties.

Several steps are necessary to prepare inactive plumbing systems for building re-occupancy, and workers performing start-up tasks should wear PPE and receive appropriate training. The steps involve flushing the entire plumbing system with water and testing to ensure “residual chlorine” levels are within the safe range. Testing to ensure effective flushing is recommended; if testing reveals high levels of bacteria in the system, additional steps are needed.

8 Key Steps for Reopening Buildings

Develop a comprehensive water management program for your water system and all devices that use water. Guidance to help with this process is available from CDC and others.

  1. Develop a comprehensive water management program for your water system and all devices that use water. Guidance to help with this process is available from CDC and others.
  2. Ensure your water heater is properly maintained and the temperature is correctly set.
  3. Flush your water system.
  4. Clean all decorative water features, such as fountains.
  5. Ensure hot tubs/spas are safe for use.
  6. Ensure cooling towers are clean and well-maintained.
  7. Ensure safety equipment including fire sprinkler systems, eye wash stations, and safety showers are clean and well-maintained.
  8. Maintain your water system.

The CDC has more details about these recommendations.

Pandemic Could Complicate Efforts to Upgrade State Drinking Water Systems

An unprecedented and fledgling statewide effort to shore up hundreds of struggling drinking water systems could face intense pressure from the novel coronavirus pandemic as the program is rolled out in coming months.

For almost a year now, the California Water Resources Control Board has been working to craft the program, and on Tuesday it approved a policy designed to guide the spending of $1.3 billion over 10 years to save some 300 water systems that are failing or at-risk of failing.

SCV Water Reminds Building Owners To Flush Water Systems Before Reopening

As businesses start operations after the “Safer at Home” order, the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency is reminding all building owners and managers of the importance of maintaining good water quality by flushing your water system before reopening, officials said Monday.

COVID-19: Safe Water Systems Crucial During Outbreak

Local water systems are working to make sure that as so much of the rest of people’s lives are interrupted by the coronavirus quarantines, the source of safe water for the region’s homes remain stable.

The city of Dayton — which supplies drinking water for much of Montgomery County — has launched a campaign in an effort to ease residents’ concerns about the quantity and quality of the region’s drinking water.

The COVID-19 outbreak has also led local water systems to take steps from deep-cleaning offices, staggering shifts of workers, and banning public visitors from the grounds — all to prevent an outbreak of the disease from affecting their staffs.

The steps are part of pandemic emergency plans that local water systems put into effect immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared as a state of emergency both locally and nationally. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requires all public water systems to have emergency plans.

“With everything else going on, the last thing you need to worry about is your drinking water,” said Joe Bates, the Water Treatment Supervisor for the city of Xenia water system. “Tap water is safe. Drink tap water and save the bottled water for a true emergency or when you are mobile.”

The 12-inch SeeSnake inspection tool used by the Vallecitos Water District is designed to provide accurate pipeline assessments. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

New Inspection Tool Aids Vallecitos Pipeline Assessments

A new pipeline inspection tool being used by contractors working for the Vallecitos Water District to determine pipeline integrity could become a standard tool saving time and money.

After nearly completing construction in 2008, developers walked away from the 500-acre High Point subdivision in the City of Escondido. Water facilities installed for the subdivision were left unused for ten years.

Two developers CalWest and TrueLife Communities recently decided to complete the project. They approached Vallecitos to determine what is needed to complete water service.

The mains for the project, made of ductile iron pipe, had not been used for ten years. Vallecitos needed to determine the condition of the pipes. Infrastructure Engineering Corporation and subcontractor PICA Corporation are now testing and assessing the integrity of the water main including the pipeline appurtenance (blow-offs, air vacs, and fire hydrants) connections to the main pipeline.

Early damage detection prevents pipeline failures

Pipelines undergoing assessment to determine their condition before being put into service in the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

A pipeline’s condition is assessed to determine its condition before being put into service in the Vallecitos Water District. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Several processes are included in the High Point Pipeline Assessment project. Crews insert a tool developed by PICA Corporation called a “SeeSnake” into the pipeline, and data indicates the condition of the pipes. The SeeSnake uses an electromagnetic method on iron pipes, which can “see” past cement mortar, epoxy, or polyethylene lining to detect and size any corrosion damage to the iron structure of the pipe itself.

The SeeSnake tool is pulled through the pipe at 17 feet per minute, delivering data as the inspection is being performed in real-time. The technology helps expedite information, saving time and costs by accelerating the process without sacrificing attention to detail. Vallecitos is then able to assess the pipeline’s wall thickness, potential iron loss, and any other anomalies to determine the condition of the existing pipeline.

See video demonstrating the SeeSnake pipeline assessment.

“Good decisions start with good information,” said Kris Embry, PICA regional manager. “Our ultimate goal in testing this new system is to quickly and efficiently secure accurate condition assessment information, allowing the Vallecitos Water District to address any weak links and prevent potential pipeline failures long before they happen.”

When the inspection is completed, the repair process begins.

Two water pipelines are being inspected for the condition analysis, one running along Woodland Heights Glen starting at Briar Patch Glen, and one running along Elderwood Glen, totaling approximately 3,067 feet. The larger 2,300 feet section of pipe is near the District’s existing Palos Vista.

Preventive measures save water and costs

Over time, pipelines are exposed to corrosion from aggressive soils, electrical currents, damage to coatings or linings, physical force, or other factors. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Over time, pipelines are exposed to corrosion from aggressive soils, electrical currents, damage to coatings or linings, physical force, or other factors. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Over time, pipelines are exposed to corrosion from aggressive soils, electrical currents, damage to coatings or linings, physical force, or other factors. The result could be a pipeline break which could case other infrastructure damage, interruption to water service, a loss of water, or monetary losses.

When an inspection finds corrosion, the affected section of iron pipeline is isolated, removed, and replaced by PVC pipe. Because iron pipelines can be susceptible to corrosion from multiple causes, they are no longer installed in the Vallecitos Water District.

The inspection found two badly corroded areas of pipeline and excavations verified the accuracy of the data. The Vallecitos Water District continues testing the new process and the accuracy of the data to determine whether to adopt the new technology for future working pipeline assessments.

Tiny Community Has Tried For 20 Years To Force Southern California Edison To Fix Water System

Retired firefighters Julie and Dale Hutchinson stepped out the back door of their Banning Heights home on a hot night last July. A column of smoke and flames towered over the ridge above their home — the Valley fire was advancing toward their tiny community. Their first thought wasn’t the wildfire, it was lack of water. For two decades, the Hutchinsons and their neighbors in this rural enclave tucked above the I-10 freeway have fought to have Southern California Edison repair a century-old system that carries water down the San Gorgonio mountains to their homes.

New Digital Map Shows Which Community Water Systems Have Lead

A new digital map that highlights which community water systems have reported the presence of lead pipes and fixtures is the latest legislatively-mandated action to target the health risks of lead in drinking water and set a timetable to replace the potentially hazardous hardware. Released this week, the map uses State Water Board data from nearly 3,000 community water systems throughout California and places the information on an easy-to-read, color-coded document that is expected to change as testing continues statewide.