Now that the Covid vaccine is being rolled out, the world is trying to return to normal. Schools and buildings are reopening, albeit with Covid restrictions in place. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well, yes and no. Covid restrictions can allow waterborne bacteria to flourish in building water systems. Drinking fountains are closed because of Covid, allowing biofilm to build up in the inner workings. If a drinking fountain is used without taking the proper precautions and testing, bacteria like legionella can spread.
Most drinking fountains utilize carbon filtration to make the water taste and smell better, because drinking fountains are exclusively for consumption. This makes drinking from the fountain more pleasant. However, carbon filtration also removes the disinfectant that municipal water systems add to help keep the water clean while it sits in the pipes. With the removal of the disinfectant, bacteria is allowed to grow. All the tubing, hoses, piping, and spigots that are downstream of the carbon filter are subject to increased growth of bacteria and biofilm. The carbon filter sump housing also builds up a nasty number of bacteria, creating a perfect habitat for biofilm and colonies.
Common treatments for legionella, and other waterborne bacteria, can include filtration, flushing, heating, chemical remediation, etc. Doing these once does always get rid of a legionella or other bacterial problems once it is established. Bacterial biofilm can often withstand common treatments, especially if they are only done once. Buildings need regular flushing to keep biofilm from forming, and chlorine content should be tested to ensure adequate levels.
Because of the complexity of mitigating legionella and other waterborne bacteria, bacterial filtration is one of the best ways to prevent waterborne illnesses. Lack of use and low levels of disinfection agent can be hard to overcome. Adding chemicals and making sure all pipes are flushed regularly can be time heavy and expensive. Installing bacterial filters adds protection and peace of mind without requiring someone to go around and manually flush all the outlets. Bacterial filters also typically last a month or more, allowing more time between changeouts than having to flush or add chemical disinfection.
For more information on how to protect your water fountains from bacterial build up, check out our Drinking Fountain Solutions page!