and operation of water storage facilities.
Utilities should also solicit, document,
map, and investigate consumer concerns,
with a focus on those system deficiencies
that contribute to water age problems.
Owners and Operators of Buildings
and Homes. New standards to help
building owners control disease-causing
bacteria such as Legionella (the cause of
Legionnaires’ Disease) are in development,
and will outline responsibilities for building owners and operators to protect consumers. Building owners and operators
can reduce risk by remediating problems
with (a) tastes and odors, (b) coloration of
water, (c) inadequate hot water at taps, or
(d) lack of cold water at taps. Scheduled
flushing after long periods of stagnation
can also prevent problems. Proper maintenance of the plumbing system and all
devices is critical. Building owners and
operators should also realize that water
age problems associated with new water
conservation technologies and strategies are not yet fully understood. These
stakeholders should be alert to aesthetic issues and health complaints that
might be caused by these new devices
Plumbing System Designers. System
designers should minimize the volume of
the plumbing system as much as possible
by providing the minimum storage that
can meet demands. In systems with high
levels of conservation, pipe diameters
should also be minimized to the extent
possible. Many problems can be eliminated by placing multiple water fixtures
on the same line, and avoiding long runs
of pipe with little or no demand, which
create “dead ends” that allow water to sit in
plumbing for long periods. For wastewater
pipes in retrofit green buildings, the slope
of pipes downstream of fixtures must be
sufficient to carry waste away at lower
Plumbers. Plumbers can provide
insight and identify problems that fre-
quently occur throughout a city or in
specific neighborhoods. They should
report complaints about tastes and odors
in hot and cold water systems as well as
plumbing or device failures. Their collec-
tive wisdom and observations can help
consumers and water utilities identify and
resolve problems efficiently.
Building Occupants. Building occupants should report problems with water
quality (i.e., tastes, odors, color, or suspected water-related illnesses), as well as
plumbing failures, corrosion, and inadequate temperatures to building/facility
managers or water utilities. Sometimes
utilities and building operators are not
aware of their responsibilities or the
potential dangers of ignoring problems.
Taste and odor problems are sometimes
indicators of more serious issues that
could affect public health.
Code Organizations. As the water
industry seeks to make water systems
more efficient, it will begin exploring more
innovative strategies such as rainwater
harvesting or reclaimed water systems.
Building plumbing codes should provide guidelines to help consumers avoid
selection of water systems that are (a) too
complex, (b) require high levels of maintenance, or (c) result in high water ages.
For more information regarding this
Water Research Foundation Project, please
visit the #4383 project page on the WRF
website. This research was also featured
in the April 2015 edition of the Journal of
American Water Works Association.
AHMED, W., F. Huygens, A. Goonetilleke,
and T. Gardner. 2008. Real-Time
PCR Detection of Pathogenic
Microorganisms in Roof-Harvested
Rainwater in Southeast Queensland,
Australia. Applied and Environmental
Microbiology, 74( 17): 5490-5496.
AL-JASSER, A.O. 2007. Chlorine Decay
in Drinking-water Transmission and
Distribution Systems: Pipe Service Age
Effect. Water Research, 41( 2): 387-396.
CIESIELSKI, C.A., M.J. Blaser, and W.L.
Wang. 1984. Role of Stagnation and
Obstruction of Water Flow in Isolation
of Legionella pneumophila from Hospital
Plumbing. Applied and Environmental
Microbiology, 48( 5): 984-987.
DURAND, M.L., AND A.M. Dietrich. 2007.
Contributions of Silane Cross-linked
PEX Pipe to Chemical/Solvent Odours
in Drinking Water. Water Science and
Technology: A Journal of the International
Association on Water Pollution Research,
55( 5): 153-160.
ELFLAND, C., P. Scardina, and M.A.
Edwards. 2010. Lead-contaminated
Water from Brass Plumbing Devices in
New Buildings. Jour. AW WA, 102( 11): 66.
EPA (U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL Protection
Agency). 2002. Effects of Water Age
on Distribution System Water Quality.
Cincinnati, Ohio: Office of Water and
Office of Ground Water and Drinking
HEIM, T.H., AND A.M. Dietrich. 2007.
Sensory Aspects and Water Quality
Impacts of Chlorinated and
Chloraminated Drinking Water in
Contact with HDPE and cPVC Pipe.
Water Research, 41( 4): 757-764.
KELLEY, K.M., A.C. Stenson, R. Dey, and
A.J. Whelton. 2014. Release of Drinking
Water Contaminants and Odor Impacts
Caused by Green Building Cross-linked
Polyethylene (PEX) Plumbing Systems.
Water Research, 67: 19-32.
LAUTENSCHLAGER, K., N. Boon, Y. Wang,
T. Egli, and F. Hammes. 2010. Overnight
Stagnation of Drinking Water in
Household Taps Induces Microbial