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Businesses Advised To Flush Pipes As They Reopen

A photo taken on January 13, 2015 showing water guages showing water pressure throughout the pipes
David Seibold
Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Under Pressure

Billings Public Works Department has some suggestions for businesses and facilities getting ready to reopen under Governor Steve Bullock’s phased reopening directive; Owners should think about their pipes.

If a business or facility has been closed down, chances are there’s been no water moving through the pipes. That may mean a lower water bill but it also can mean stagnant water.

Louis Engles, Billings Water Quality Division Manager, says that is not good.

“If it sits stagnant it can lose its chlorine residual and that can cause bacteria to grow like Legionella. It can also cause lead or copper to leach into the water if it is allowed to sit for too long,” said Engles.

Engels says you need to draw fresh water into the system. He recommends flushing to the farthest reach of the business’s plumbing system, and running water through that tap until it runs cold.

“And when it runs cold or colder, that's an indication that water from the city distribution main has made it through your plumbing. We recommend three to five minutes after that point just to ensure you’re getting the freshest water,” Engles said.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have checklists for restoring water service. Steps include inspecting the plumbing, draining and cleaning hot water heaters, flushing hot water lines, flushing cold water lines and draining and cleaning water storage facilities.

Engels says that ensures the safest water for the business’ clients and staff.