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As Connecticut prepares to welcome students back to the classroom, the Regional Water Authority (RWA) is urging all schools to follow return to service guidance offered by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH). Water left in the internal plumbing of unused buildings can become stagnant, raising health, safety and taste concerns. The steps recommended by DPH to remove stagnant water from a building’s internal plumbing can be found on the RWA's website.
Water delivered to the tap by the RWA has been filtered and treated to ensure it is safe and high quality. The quality of the RWA’s water has not been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if a building’s water system has seen little to no use for several weeks, water in the internal plumbing will have become stagnant, which may cause health, safety and taste issues.
The RWA’s water quality experts are directly contacting school superintendents to discuss the issue of stagnant water. These superintendents are being advised to ensure that all schools follow the steps recommended by DPH to remove stagnant water from internal plumbing systems.
DPH recommends that water systems be brought back into service by thoroughly and methodically running all faucets, shower heads, ice makers and other water fixtures with cold water first and hot water second. Schools should consider hiring a professional to assist with this process, especially in cases where HVAC systems are present. DPH recommends that after this step is completed, all equipment be examined and water quality be tested.
Water left stagnant in an internal plumbing system can corrode pipes, resulting in discoloration, unpleasant odors or other quality issues. Stagnant water can also cause the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Legionella, which can make people ill if they breathe in small droplets of water in the air that contain the bacteria. For this reason, it is important that schools follow a careful return to service protocol so that they can safely reopen.