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Don’t Forget About Water!

The re-opening of the economy over next few months is an exciting and welcome prospect for UK businesses. Regardless of the sector you operate within, and whether or not you have had to close sites, a positive domino effect throughout commerce and industry can be anticipated. No doubt you’re already working hard to get your teams – and your facilities if they’ve been vacant – ready to get back to normal trading conditions.

Over the coming weeks and months, please, don’t forget about water!

You may not perhaps consider it to be an operational priority, but after long periods of vacant premises, there are significant water-related risks (even if you have continued to trade throughout) when, as a country, we turn everything back on. No business can operate without water and the last thing anyone wants right now is to close the doors again, having waited so long to open them.

To start thinking about water now is to safeguard your staff and customers, and to protect operational resilience and cashflow. There’s a lot of advice out there and we list some beneficial resources below.

Two Steps to Security and Safety

We urge you to make sure that the following two points are on your ‘urgent’ reopening checklist and that they are considered as part of your corporate risk planning:

  1. Water Visibility
    We strongly advise that you take ownership of reading your meters throughout the period of economic reopening. Most water companies scaled back on meter reading activity over the last year, so it’s extremely likely that your bills will be estimated and could cover longer periods than normal. This could have an unnecessarily detrimental impact on cashflow in the short term. Furthermore, if there are any supply interruptions, you will not be paying for water you don’t consume. Location and date stamped photographic evidence of your actual usage will alleviate this concern, as well as helping to guide strategic forward planning on water stewardship.
  2. Water Safety
    To ensure the safety of customers, guests, visitors and staff, it is vitally important to keep all water systems safe if your sites have been closed or if there has been a significant reduction in usage. Particular attention should be paid to the risks associated with stagnate water and other forms of microbiological or chemical deterioration, including:
    • Water storage tanks – these should be chemically cleaned and commissioned as new because even daily flushing regimes will not have provided adequate water turnover to ensure sanitary conditions within a potable water storage tank sized for a fully occupied facility.
    • Food and drink preparation areas – here, all equipment may have stagnated during closure and should therefore be emptied/flushed, cleaned and re-commissioned in accordance with specific manufacturer guidance prior to use. Consider glass/dish washers, steam ovens, ice machines, water softeners and dilution drinks systems such as Postmix, which all require water feeds. Don’t overlook produce humidifiers, which are commonly fed with purified water which has in turn been treated with UV light and thus presents a low biological risk, however in presenting an aerosolised water mist, create a high-risk environment for consumers.
    • Drinking fountains and water coolers – any stagnant water must be disposed of from both mains-fed systems and those containing stored volumes of water (whether internally or in exchangeable containers), prior to cleaning and recommissioning.
    • Bathroom and shower areas – these are high risk areas for legionella growth, and it is vital that all potential water routes are fully flushed, including all WC cisterns, basin outlets, bath outlets and showerheads.
    • Water recycling systems – where these exist and have been offline, we recommend that a specialist subcontractor is used to provide a system re-commissioning.

If you are in any doubt, speak to your wholesaler. Or, our team of experts are on hand to help.



For comprehensive information regarding the risks to the water supply within buildings and how to ensure water systems within premises remain safe, visit:

Your water wholesaler can also provide guidance on specific regional requirements which will take into account any variables including localised water scarcity conditions and trade effluent obligations. Visit: