Water Storage: Minimise The Risk Of Water-Borne Diseases
Water-borne diseases are a significant threat to public health, particularly during large greenfield festivals and outdoor events where water storage tanks are extensively used. Legionnaires’ disease is a prime example of such a danger, and can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening illness for any festival goer unfortunate enough to contract it, as well as potentially irreparable reputational damage to the event itself.
The Legionella bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease is endemic to open waterways and is normally harmless in the concentrations found in natural rivers and lakes. However, when concentrated in a water storage tank, the bacteria can quickly grow to dangerous proportions, and can cause a severe form of pneumonia if people inhale airborne aerosolised droplets of water containing the bacteria. This makes Legionnaires’ disease an especially high risk for water tanks used to feed festival showers and wash facilities, where spray can disperse the bacteria over large distances.
Vulnerable populations such as young children, older adults, smokers, and individuals with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible to serious cases of Legionnaires’ disease, and an outbreak could quickly spread through a festival environment due to the shared use of water storage tanks and inadequate monitoring and maintenance.
Fortunately, serious outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at greenfield festivals in the UK are rare, but examples from elsewhere in Europe – such as the notorious hot tub outbreak at Bovenkarspel Flower Festival, Holland, in 1999, that killed 32 people – illustrate how seriously the risk should be taken.
Nor is Legionnaires’ disease the only waterborne risk that event organisers and site managers should be aware of. Water tanks and shared outdoor water facilities have also been linked with outbreaks of E. coli, Campylobacter and Weil’s Disease, among others.
Water Storage Maintenance Best Practices
So, what safeguards can event managers take to minimise the risk of waterborne diseases from water storage tanks?
A well-designed water storage system and high-quality tank can often limit the growth and spread of harmful bacteria by avoiding stagnation caused by UV radiation. All Enduramaxx tanks are made from food grade medium density polypropylene, and are rotationally moulded, ensuring a smooth surface on the inside of the tank.
This smooth internal surface reduces potential stagnation points and areas for bacterial colonisation, making it more difficult for pathogens to take hold.
Support structures should also always be in place to promote adequate water flow and circulation. Any tanks used should be made from food grade polymers suitable for holding potable water.
Hygiene And Sanitation:
Regular cleaning and disinfection of tanks between uses (e.g. between festival seasons) is crucial to keep on top of Legionella and other waterborne pathogens. Tanks that are out of service should be completely drained, cleaned, and disinfected before being refilled and returned to service the following year. Approved biocides and chemical disinfectants should be used when appropriate and any buildup of organic matter or biofilm should be removed. Strict hygiene practices when handling water storage systems in order to prevent contamination should be adhered to.
Keeping tanks clean and monitored for contamination during downtime is a proactive measure that is usually effective in preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
Microbiological Monitoring And Testing:
Regular water testing should be conducted throughout the event to monitor the presence of potential pathogens and to assess the efficacy of your disinfection procedures. Water samples should be sent to an approved laboratory for analysis at regular intervals and subjected to the necessary follow-up actions regarding possible contaminations.
Legionella bacteria grow most quickly in the temperature band 20 to 45°C, so storage best practices involve keeping water tanks out of the direct sun in the summer and trying to maintain circulating water temperatures below 20°C. Temperatures above 60°C will kill Legionella bacteria.
Find Out More
The Enduramaxx range of high-quality potable water storage tanks is suitable for many indoor and outdoor applications, including events, construction sites or anywhere that mains water isn’t available, establishing a safe water storage environment free from Legionella and other pathogens.