Drinking water quality in the focus of TÜV AUSTRIA experts
- Created by Christiane Reitshammer
Legionella, pseudomonads, germs, bacteria – in 2015, there were numerous instances of contamination of the drinking water, brought about by building work, by old pipelines systems as well as external bacteria. Fundamentally, the country can cover 100 percent of its drinking water requirements from protected ground water and the water table. The water is normally odorless and colorless, natural and largely of excellent quality. In contrast, according to UNICEF 748 million people in the world have no access to safe drinking water, 90 percent of them in countries in Asia and Africa.
But Europe is not immune to danger: More than 20,000 people die every year in Europe alone as a result of Legionella infections, with countless more falling ill. Pseudomonads and other bacteria in
drinking water also often cause lifethreatening illnesses. “Even in Austria and Germany, cases of illness and death keep occurring,ˮ confirmed Christian Fleischer from TÜV AUSTRIA HYGIENIC EXPERT GMBH. That is why the legal and normative procedures have been significantly tightened up in recent years and the plant operators have been compelled to responsibly handle drinking water systems.
Where do dangers lurk?
The greatest sources of risk are represented by areas of the drinking water systems that are not flowed through or only rarely: hotels that are not used all year round, schools and kindergartens during holidays as well as apartments during the vacation period. Even poorly cleaned fittings, shower heads and shower hoses represent a potential risk. ˮThis is significantly minimized by targeted measures,“ says Fleischer. By making a ˮsystem-specific adjustment of the user behavior,“ each system can be hygienically faultlessly operated without big conversion and renovation work.
Fight against Legionella
TÜV AUSTRIA has been looking at the topic of water hygiene for many years, with special consideration for Legionella prevention. In order to be able to wholly and professionally tackle the topic of ˮHygiene,“ in 2015 a team of experts was created by TÜV AUSTRIA HYGIENIC EXPERT GMBH. The company develops national and international facility-specific quality assurance systems, which allows plant operators who are responsible on a legal basis for the flawless hygienic quality of the water, to comply with all legal and normative requirements in conjunction with drinking water hygiene (especially with the Legionella problem).
TÜV AUSTRIA HYGIENIC EXPERT GMBH thus inspects and supports all water systems from which a health risk can emanate: drinking water systems in hospitals, doctors' practices, care and old age homes, hotels, leisure resorts, residential buildings, public buildings such as schools, kindergartens, universities, industrial and commercial companies etc.; also open cooling towers, humidifying systems, fountains and many more.
TÜV AUSTRIA currently has a large project underway for the city of Villach. In the course of legally prescribed Legionella prevention, the Carinthian city is introducing a quality assurance system for all public buildings.
In addition, there are numerous property management companies in Austria who regularly have TÜV AUSTRIA HYGIENIC EXPERT GMBH inspect their residential buildings to protect the health of their tenants and owners and to comply with their legal obligations.
Residents of Villach are full of praise
In Villach, people are very satisfied with the cooperation with TÜV AUSTRIA. Wolfgang Somitsch from the Department for Building Construction and Property of the Villach Municipal Administration stated it was a ˮperfect collaboration.“ ˮThere are only benefits – both in substance but also in the open communication.“ While Fleischer's team has cooperated for about a year in the area of water quality and Legionella prevention, there have been interfaces with TÜV AUSTRIA already for some years: for instance during the risk analysis of the Villach thermal springs, in the inspection of elevators, gates, storage systems etc. in all public buildings.
ˮThe synergy effects of ʼAll from a single source‛ now really come into play,“ explains Somitsch. Especially the topic of Legionella prevention will gain significance: ˮNow often not given the attention it deserves, it is becoming a hot topic in municipalities due to the legal requirements and the increase in health awareness. Villach is a pioneer on this topic thanks to TÜV AUSTRIA.“