Local COVID alert level: high

Colchester is currently defined as a 'high risk' coronavirus alert level. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will take action to minimise disruption and keep residents and visitors safe.

Coronavirus: updates, advice and guidance

Operating your business safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Maintaining and reinstating drinking water supplies following building closures

Water systems in buildings that have not been used during lockdown pose a potential health risk. The following guidance has been issued on good practice when reinstating and maintaining a safe water supply in places of work, particularly those that rely on safe water for their business activities. 

Who needs to take action?

  • Dental practises
  • Hairdressers
  • Hotels
  • Gyms
  • Sports clubs
  • Office buildings (especially those with shower facilities)
  • Any organisation that has a water supply and is currently shut down

The possible hazards to public health 

Examples of problems caused by deterioration include: 

  • growth of microbes that can cause serious health problems, such as Legionella
  • the leaching of cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, or zinc
  • unpleasant colour caused by iron-dissolving bacteria
  • bad taste or odour
  • the build-up of disinfectants
  • broken valves allowing faecal matter from toilets to flow back into the water supply
  • equipment such as softeners and filters no longer working properly

Smaller public, commercial and retail buildings and other premises should: 

  • as a minimum, carry out extensive flushing of water storage tanks and pipework to introduce fresh water into the system before anyone uses it
  • raise the temperature in hot water systems need to greater than 60°C, and full system disinfection may be required in some circumstances to achieve the required 50mg/L free chlorine
  • ideally take advice from WaterSafe scheme approved plumbers, or in complex circumstances another experienced professional, to understand potential risks.
  • ideally consider working with water suppliers to avoid supply issues in the local area and to manage the disposal of large volumes of water, disinfectants and other chemicals

New risks because of COViD-19 

Because of COVID-19, building managers should manage new risks including: 

  • drinking water fountains/communal drinking water points where person to person transmission may occur
  • the design of any water outlet should protect it from direct contact by the hands and mouth, i.e. the outlet should be free flowing without splashback, and with another space for a glass or bottle which then can be used for drinking
  • cleaning routines that are no longer suitable – a food-safe anti-viral disinfectant routine should be put in place and carried out at a regular frequency throughout the day

Further information and advice 

Further information and advice on keeping water safe in food and business premises please visit: 

Page last reviewed: 14 May 2020