With the impact of COVID-19, the ongoing partnership between plant personnel and your water treatment provider is more important than ever. Water systems, such as cooling towers and boilers, are dynamic systems by design. In today’s environment, they may not be operating as consistently as before with entire processes or facilities being shut down with little warning and, just as quickly, started back up.
Whether your building is newly constructed or even 100+ years old, chances are, sooner or later, it can become colonized with opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPP’s) such as Legionella.
As facultative intracellular pathogens, meaning they are capable of living either inside or outside of other host cells, Legionella enters your building water system(s) as an endosymbiont of another organism. Translated: they hitch a ride into your building inside of amoeboid cells which, incidentally, function as their natural host organisms in the aquatic environment.
COVID-19 has brought the phrase “social distancing” to the forefront, and many locations won’t allow nonessential employees or vendors on site at all. Not only has this changed the world we live in, but the outbreak has changed the value proposition for water treatment controls and services. It has forced us to proceed quickly into the future.
As coronavirus continues to spread across the country, many facilities including college dorms, hotels, vacation condos, shopping malls, and other buildings are being shut down unexpectedly or operated with very low occupancy. As a result, building water systems that normally have hundreds or thousands of gallons of water flowing through the fixtures, piping, and equipment daily may be stagnant for an unknown period of time, maybe several months.
Should your Water Management Plan (WMP) Program Team decide to utilize environmental water sampling to validate the effectiveness of the WMP, ANSI/ASHRAE 188-2018 advises that these tests should be performed by a laboratory accredited to a nationally or internationally recognized standard (e.g., ISO/IEC 17025:2017), with Legionellaa included in the laboratory’s scope of accreditation.
Before environmental sampling is undertaken, a Sampling Plan should be formulated. This plan should list the devices and Points of Use (POUs) to be sampled, at what frequency sampling will be performed, what the acceptable control limits will be, and what the response protocol will be for any sample result(s) falling outside of the previously-established control limits.