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Business Owners Can Take Steps to Refresh Water in Reopened Buildings

Closed or unoccupied buildings, in response to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, may have had low or no water use for extended periods of time.

Without people regularly using water in a building, water quality can degrade as the water sits stagnant in internal pipes. As offices and businesses reopen, building and business owners can flush internal piping to clear out stagnant water and bring in fresh water from the city’s water distribution system.

The City of Boulder recommends working with your building’s engineer or facility manager for this process.

Follow these steps to replace the water inside the building with fresh water:

  1. Begin by running the cold-water faucets closest to where water enters the building.
  2. Open other cold-water taps sequentially, moving further away from where water enters the building, and allow the water to run until temperature seems constant at furthest tap—generally, you’ll feel the water getting colder and stabilizing with fresh water. 
  3. Flush toilets at least once in a multi-level building, start on the level where the water service enters the building. Complete flushing on that level before proceeding to the next level. Flush one level at a time.
  4. Flush any outside spigots.
  5. Repeat indoor flush using hot water. You will feel the water temperature turn from warm to hot.
  6. Flush and perform preventative maintenance on point-of-use devices, such as a filter or other system on a single tap or building entry point, per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has guidance for building water systems for specific industries, such as hotels or health care facilities.

Questions on the flushing process or water quality can be directed to the city’s Drinking Water Program staff via InquireBoulder (under the “Water and Sewer” menu) or by calling 303-413-7400.

Published: May 4, 2020

Media Contacts:

Samantha Glavin, Public Works, 720-564-2362
Julie Causa, Public Works, 303-441-4247