“Residents contracting Legionnaire’s Disease: Source Unknown.”
Sounds like a nightmare water scenario, right? A scary one, to be sure, however not a headline you’re destined to face if you take a few simple steps to mitigate risk for legionalla.
First, we need to examine the truth about where Legionella colonizes. Legionella is rather common in natural sources of moisture such as lakes, rivers, and soil, and left untreated, managed water systems can become a preferred environment for fast Legionella colonization. Many cooling systems hold recirculating water at or near optimal range for growth, between 95 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit, however, your building’s cooling tower isn’t the only place susceptible to colonization. Furthermore, with a water treatment professional’s help, cooling water is easily treatable. This brings us to the first step.
Make Your Water A Bad Host
Legionella thrives in untreated water in the right temperature range. Since heating or super-cooling your water outside the survivable range for extended periods of time isn’t a cost-effectivee or viable solution, creating an inhospitable environment by introducing biocides appropriate for the strain(s) of Legionella you’re combatting and the water application. For example, treatment of potable water have a much lower tolerance for biocide introduction than cooling or boiler water.
Understand The Guidelines
Regulatory bodies such as the CDC, EPA, OSHA, and local health departments all publish guidelines and safety standards for potable and non-potable (cooling/heating) water. Familiarize yourself with their minimum standards and recommended best practices as best you can, however terminology and understanding what regulatory body your facility falls under can be daunting for even the most seasoned facilities manager, enlist the help of a water treatment expert.
Find A Water Treatment Professional
Managing your building’s water can be a big job; greater still if you’re learning how to test and adjust the chemical makeup on the job. A quick phone call to the right professional and you can have a water treatment lab analyze your water, custom-make the right chemicals and quantities and receive the proper training and schedule developed for your specific building’s needs.
Build Your Team
Preventing and treating Legionella is not a one man job. Assemble a team of cross-discipline technicians for your water treatment expert to quarterback. From cooling/HVAC to plumbing, to mechanical contractors, Legionella prevention is a group effort.
We often fear what we don’t know, so spending a little time understanding and preparing for the threat of waterborne pathogens helps dispel myths, allowing you to more confidently manage your facility’s water.