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Tennessee American Water Recommends Large Building Operators and Schools to Flush Pipes to Maintain Water Quality


Chattanooga, TN, Apr. 30, 2020 – Tennessee American Water remains committed to keeping our customers informed as we continue to deliver, clean, safe and reliable water services to you during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Extended periods of inactivity can cause lead leaching or legionella growth and that taking proper steps can help minimize potential exposure to both these contaminants. As buildings reopen, businesses, school districts and property management teams will begin the process of restarting building systems that have been dormant for a significant amount of time. These reopening procedures will help in making sure water systems and equipment are in working order.

Tennessee American Water encourages large building owners and operators to adopt a proactive approach that includes proper flushing procedures, assuring the presence of disinfectant residuals, adjustment of hot water temperature, and proper maintenance of building plumbing and heating/cooling systems. Proper flushing of plumbing before reoccupying these buildings is essential to maintain water quality and should be performed biweekly while the building is closed and, if possible, again the weekend before opening.

Consistent with EPA and industry guidance, Tennessee American Water recommends the flushing of pipes to maintain water quality, including:

  • Toilets: At least twice (this will help to move fresh water through the plumbing)
  • Faucets: Run at full flow for at least 2 minutes
  • Showers: Run at full flow for at least 2 minutes
  • Other Appliances/Apparatus: We recommend flushing other appliances and apparatus thoroughly, at full flow, bringing fresh water into the system. Preferably run the water until you are able to smell the chlorine in the water. If you have an appliance such as a refrigerator or ice maker that has a filter, upon completion of flushing, follow manufacturer’s instructions for replacing water filters.

For additional information on flushing you can go to American Water’s fact sheet; the Environmental Protection Agency’s Flushing Best Practices; the Center for Disease Control web page; or the American Water Works Association.

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