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Organizations advised to consider water hygiene in business continuity plans

Building owners and managers are being encouraged to consider the threats associated with their water supply, as the new ‘business normal’ includes lower occupancy and therefore new concerns for water systems designed for higher loads and flows. As a result, Earthwise Environmental, Inc. says that business continuity plans need water safety updates to protect people using the space from infection and businesses from the unplanned costs of insurance claims and lawsuits that may arise from not addressing these simple items.

Actions that businesses can take include:

Map your water systems

Knowing where the water flows and where it sits will identify trouble spots for microbiological growth. Keeping water moving replenishes municipally provided disinfectant and for many systems that's enough. In systems like cooling towers, ensure enough added disinfectant is circulating to keep bacteria at bay.

A Water Hygiene Specialist can make this an easier task, as they are knowledgeable about pH, system temperature, and disinfectant residual that affect biological growth. They  will be able to help you create a water management plan to protect your business.

Consider updating equipment

Many buildings have older analog equipment for cooling tower and potable water treatment. These don't respond to changes in water flow and quality, requiring manual adjustments when the operator notices the change or when the water treater services the system.

Newer controller systems provide remote control so your water treater can review changes in the water system daily. These balance the system just-in-time saving money on overtreatment and protecting assets from undertreatment.
Secondary disinfection systems benefit from remote monitoring as well, with the ability to adjust the amount of disinfectant supplied by the hour automatically.

Keep your records in order

In a respiratory infection pandemic, the last thing we want to see is a rise in Legionnaires Disease (LD) or other bacterial infections that make matters worse. Verify and validate your prevention efforts with proper testing for microbiological contamination that makes people sick.

Building owners can be held responsible for LD cases that can be traced back to their building systems. Regular Legionella testing is a small expense that makes your water management plan defensible if a lawsuit or insurance claim should arise from an outbreak.

While times of lower profit and larger concerns may not seem like the time to invest in water system updates and plans, there really isn't a better time. For the long-term protection of your assets, being ready for short-term crises is a must.

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Business continuity?

Business continuity can be defined as 'the processes, procedures, decisions and activities to ensure that an organization can continue to function through an operational interruption'. Read more about the basics of business continuity here.

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