FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mayor’s Office
The City of Salisbury Department of Water Works is issuing an urgent water quality announcement concerning stagnant water in businesses that have been closed. This includes properties and buildings within municipal limits, as well as those in the municipal service agreement areas that receive city water.
Due to COVID-19, many buildings have been closed for several weeks or more, and are now poised to begin reopening. During these closures, water in the buildings’ plumbing has sat stagnant for a significant period of time. Stagnant water poses serious and potentially life-threatening health risks to humans, such as bacterial build-up and contamination, and heavy metal leeching and toxicity, both of which can cause serious illness. One such bacteria that can flourish in water systems that have been dormant for a period of time is Legionella, which causes Legionnaires Disease, a form of atypical pneumonia that can mimic many of the same symptoms of COVID-19.
Cori Cameron, Director of the City of Salisbury Department of Water Works, has issued the following statement: “The Department of Water Works diligently maintains the quality of our drinking water supply and disinfects it using chlorine. However, the owners of buildings throughout the City are responsible for the quality of the water that flows through the pipes in their buildings. It is extremely important that businesses that have been dormant for the past several weeks or months flush their cold and hot water systems before reopening. The hot water heater, as well as every outlet in the building, should be flushed until it has brought in fresh water from the main. Even ice machines should be dumped, flushed, and refilled. I urge building owners to visit our website for information about how to properly flush, as this is critical to public health.”
Buildings most at risk of water contamination due to dormancy include: schools, gyms, factories, hotels, restaurants, and outpatient healthcare facilities. Additionally, hot tubs, pools, water fountains, irrigation systems, and water-cooling towers are also threatened.
Due to the serious public health and safety implications of water contamination due to stagnation, it is critical that all buildings that have experienced a prolonged period of dormancy be thoroughly flushed before reopening.
Following guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the City of Salisbury Department of Water Works has compiled many resources and instructions for guiding systems owners through the safe and appropriate flushing protocol.
Specifically, the CDC recommends the following eight steps before businesses reopen their buildings:
1. Develop a comprehensive water management program for the water system and all devices that use water.
2. Ensure the water heater is properly maintained and the temperature is correctly set.
3. Flush water systems.
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 fire sprinkler systems, eyewash stations, and safety showers are clean and well-maintained.
8. Maintain the water system.
For further instructions, in-depth resources, and detailed information, please visit the City of Salisbury Department of Water Work’s webpage at www.salisbury.md/departments/waterworks. You can also contact the Department of Water Works by email at [email protected]