ODH and Ohio EPA Recommendations for Flushing/Disinfection for Unoccupied Buildings


We received this forwarded email from Seneca County Health Commissioner Beth Schweitzer, and she asked us to make it available to the business community.

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Health Commissioners and Environmental Heath Directors:

Many health districts have been inquiring about appropriate guidance to provide to building owners, managers and tenants on appropriate actions to take as buildings re-open that have been vacant or only partially occupied to protect potable water quality.  Due to had little to no water usage during the Stay at Home Order due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  it is important to flush water, and if necessary due to building complexity or other conditions, perform disinfection of water systems that have been stagnant in both cold- and hot-water distribution lines and fixtures.  Low water usage can contribute to bacterial growth, including Legionella which can cause a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease. It also can also cause other water quality issues with potential health risks due to build-up of lead and copper in stagnant water that’s been collecting in older pipes and fixtures.  

Devices that store water, such as drinking water fountains, water heaters, storage tanks, and any droplet or mist-forming devices such as cooling towers, humidifiers, shower heads, and certain medical and manufacturing devices and process equipment should also be flushed and disinfected in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations or industry best practices.  

ODH and Ohio EPA have partnered to develop general flushing guidance and protocols, in addition to specific guidance to address buildings where Legionella growth is a concern.  This guidance can be found at:

Ohio EPA Guidance for Premise Plumbing Water Service Restoration https://www.epa.state.oh.us/ddagw/covid19#187665334-consumers

ODH Recommendations for Unoccupied to Partially Occupied Buildings for Flushing and Disinfection to Reduce Legionella Growth https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/odh/know-our-programs/Legionella-Environmental/welcome/

Please note that this guidance applies to the water systems of all types of buildings that are unoccupied or partially occupied during the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to office buildings, manufacturing facilities, medical offices (e.g., physician and dentist offices, ambulatory surgery centers, outpatient centers, etc.), government facilities, and religious institutions. If you are a tenant of a building, we recommend that you share this information with the building owner, building manager, or management company and ask them to consider taking these precautions.

Please direct questions to:

ODH, Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection


(614) 466-1390

Ohio EPA, Division of Drinking and Ground Waters

Emerging Contaminants Section

(614) 644-2752

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