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Reopenings have started across the United States, and in a matter of weeks, many commercial buildings, including office buildings, hotels and restaurants, will become active again after closing due to COVID-19. This could present problems for building managers and business owners, according to a press release form Triple Water Solutions.

“Buildings that were closed or operating at reduced occupancy for the last few months due to coronavirus restrictions create the perfect environment for bacteria and metal contaminants to infiltrate commercial plumbing systems,” says Patrick Verwys, executive vice president, Triple Clear Water Solutions. “In addition to establishing social distancing guidelines and new office procedures, we advise business owners, building managers and real estate developers to seriously consider implementing water safety procedures prior to reopening to keep their employees, tenants and customers safe.”

Michael Fehr, PhD, co founder of Fehr Solutions, LLC, a water treatment consultant in Geneva, Illinois, says reduced-capacity water systems often result in stagnant water being distributed within buildings. This leads to greater chance of Legionella or other bacterial growth, as well as a heightened risk of metal contamination.

"I strongly urge businesses reopening to have a plan for restoring their water systems, follow the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines and consider adding water filtration systems that demonstrate removal of bacterial contaminants like Triple Clear’s, at point of entry or point of use.” 

Triple Clear’s water filtration experts recommend that anyone reopening a building after COVID-19 closures take the following steps to ensure safe and clean water:

1. Start planning early

When reopening an under-occupied building, a systematic building flush should begin at least five days before a planned opening.

2. Do a full audit of the property

This includes checking the status of all domestic water and mechanical equipment, understanding the building occupants and reviewing their plan to re-occupy.

3. Do a risk analysis at the full building level

Now is the time to test, test, test – it’s crucial to understand where the concerns lie building-wide so that businesses and building managers can address any issues before reopening.

4. Consider installing or updating filtration

At a time when there are many unknowns, installing a filter at the point of entry or point of use delivers peace of mind, acting as a firewall and first line of defense against harmful contaminants.

5. Keep records updated at the building level

Flow rates, water temperatures, treatment cycles and filter maintenance are just a few areas to target when updating a water management program.