Safe Re-Opening of Buildings Post Covid-19

The national and provincial response to the COVID-19 crisis has forced the prolonged closure or reduced occupancy of many buildings. This includes offices, retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, factories and more. This also includes many institutions such as schools, libraries and community centres.

As Nova Scotia sets to lift COVID-19 restrictions and look to re-open buildings, there are critical steps that the Municipality of East Hants Water Utility and individual property owners must take to ensure the safety of the entire community. During this preparation, we need all building owners and operators to be aware of issues that could threaten the safety of the water and sewer services in their building.

The Issue

When buildings are closed or on low occupancy for any prolonged period, water in the building becomes stagnant and can pose serious health risks. Harmful microbiological and chemical contaminants can grow or leach into the water supply.

The effect of such stagnation will vary between each building based on factors such as length of the shutdown, size of the building, number of occupants, complexity of the system, integrity of the plumbing, and maintenance performed during the shutdown.

Responsibilities

The East Hants Water Utility has continued to provide safe, clean drinking water directly to each property for utility customers in the communities of Enfield, Elmsdale, Lantz, and Shubenacadie throughout the pandemic.

The Nova Scotia Provincial Government departments of Health and Wellness and Labour (Public Health) and Advanced Education set and enforce regulations on the private sector and institutions to protect workers and the general public.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each property owner to ensure they maintain the safety of the water within their building. Prior to re-opening or fully re-occupying a building, building managers need to take steps to flush stagnant water, clean taps and fixtures, and test that the water in their building is safe.

 

Informing and Supporting Building Owners

The Canadian Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) has created a useful FACT SHEET specifically for Building Owners and Operators to support, prepare and transition back to full building occupancy.

It is intended to identify major possible concerns, list issues that should be considered, and to provide reference information and more detailed guidance. These considerations should be addressed before allowing tenants and visitors to re-occupy any building that has been closed for a prolonged period. Detailed information on System Maintenance and Mitigation including recommended steps for reopening buildings can be found in this document.

 

Staff at the Municipality of East Hants are here to provide you support where possible.

For questions or concerns, please contact George Michelin, Manager of Water & Wastewater Services, water@easthants.ca

 

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