Harmful bacteria could be growing in water pipes of vacant buildings. Here’s how to flush it out

It’s been nearly 50 days since the first “stay-at-home” order was issued in the County of Sacramento, and water experts at the City’s Department of Utilities are concerned vacant buildings could be hiding an unseen danger.

Bacteria can grow in standing water leftover in pipes, which can become a health risk when residents or owners return to their businesses.

“We’re chiefly concerned about Legionella, a bacteria that causes serious illness, like Legionnaires Disease or Pontiac fever,” said the City’s water manager Pravani Vandeyar. “To avoid exposure, it’s important that anyone returning to a vacant buildings flush their pipes thoroughly.”

Residents and business owners can follow the instructions on the Centers for Disease Control’s “Guidance for Building Water Systems” website to make sure their water systems are flushed.

Some guidance includes checking to make sure water heaters are maintained and operating at proper temperatures and running faucets until they reach their hottest temperature.

“There are plenty of organizations that feature useful, easy to understand information about Legionella and the risks associated with it,” said City water quality superintendent Mark Severeid.

City officials stress that care should be taken to follow details depending on the size of a home or business.

“This will help ensure that a building’s water is safe if it hasn’t been used for a while,” Vandeyar said.

California Governor Newsom on Monday announced that some business sectors may be able to begin reopening as soon as May 8 as part of a phased approach to loosening “stay-at-home” orders.

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