Flushing Water Systems for Reopening

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In March 2020, Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide Stay-at-Home order in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic that mandated the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. As theses businesses prepare to reopen, there are some essential tasks that, based on CDC guidance, need to be completed before they are ready to welcome employees, customers, students or other visitors. These tasks include flushing the building’s water system and devices to ensure water is fresh. 

Why do pipes and devices need to be flushed in businesses, schools, or commercial buildings that were closed for the Stay-at-Home Order?
But water is disinfected to prevent pathogens like the one that causes Legionnaires’ disease. It was safe a month ago, what changed?
What devices need to be flushed?
What does flushing involve?
What makes up a building’s water system?
What would happen if buildings just reopened and used stagnant water?
How can we make sure our building’s water is safe before we reopen?
Is flushing all that’s needed?
Should we be concerned about lead and copper in the water?
What types of buildings need to flush their water?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published an online checklist to help determine a building’s risk of having problems with water quality after sitting unoccupied for several weeks. It includes questions about whether the building has a centralized hot water system, is taller than 10 stories, or has a cooling tower, hot tub or decorative fountain.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) distributed “Information on Maintaining or Restoring Water Quality in Buildings with Low or No Use” to assist building owners and managers in addressing water stagnation following extended closures due to the COVID-19 response.

Wake County Public Health 
Wake County has developed guidance for businesses and faith-based organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Dial 311 anywhere within town limits (or 919-469-4000 outside Cary) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or email 311@townofcary.org.

Davis Reynolds
Water Distribution System Operator
(919) 319-4545