Restoring Water Quality in Vacant or Low Use Properties

The water quality at your property can be negatively impacted by lack of use, so it’s important to flush all internal plumbing before utilizing the water again. 

What Happens Exactly?

When a building’s water supply isn’t being replenished regularly by the City main then the water sits in the pipes becoming stagnant which can allow bacteria to flourish.  You are normally protected against this because we add chlorine to the water which kills germs, protects against pathogens and makes the water safe to drink.  We are required to ensure that very low levels of chlorine (called residuals) remain in the water to keep it safe as it travels through the distribution system and into your home or business.  Unfortunately, chlorine dissipates over time leaving the water in your pipes without adequate protection from bacteria.  Stagnation can also cause unwanted contaminants to leach from the pipe materials and be present in the water.  In order to avoid potential health issues, it is not recommended to consume or use stagnant water.  

What Should I Do?

Residential homes should flush the internal plumbing by turning on the cold water faucets and letting the water run until it feels colder and doesn’t seem to be getting any colder.  The change in temperature means the water from the main has now made it through the plumbing into your house. 

Larger buildings and businesses should have a water management plan that addresses necessary flushing protocols including any site specific concerns like water purification systems, industrial appliances, ice machines, etc.  It is recommended that you consult with a plumber to ensure your plan is robust and will not allow contaminated water to remain.

Vermont Guidelines For Reopening Your Building After Stay Home, Stay Safe  

The Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation have set up a COVID-19 Response & Resources page where building and facility managers can access guidance and recommendations for actions to take before a building’s drinking water is used again.  Schools, offices, retail businesses, gyms and other buildings that are preparing to reopen their doors as Vermont begins to restart, should follow the state recommendations.