Safe drinking water – a matter of course?
- Business Assurance
- Created by Christian Fleischer
In a building itself, however, the water may be exposed to various types of negative interference. Deposits in the pipes and hot-water tanks, extended downtimes in rarely used pipes, unfavourable levels of temperature as well as polluted or clogged taps, shower heads and shower hoses can quickly lead to a deterioration of the water quality and may increase the germination of dangerous bacteria. In this context, special mention should be made of the legionella and pseudomonad pathogens which frequently occur in Austrian drinking water systems as a result of improper operation and insufficient maintenance and may cause very dangerous diseases.
The applicable standards and laws require every system operator to demonstrably ensure that the drinking water in their system may be used and drunk without posing a health risk. A current Supreme Court judgement clearly confirms this. Several criminal proceedings are pending in Austria at the moment concerning system operators who are being accused of grievous bodily harm (partly resulting in death). Persons who used or drank the water from the systems concerned became seriously ill or even died due to bacterial contamination.
Recent national and international figures show how alarming the situation really is. In Europe alone, well over than 20,000 people die every year as a result of a legionella infection and countless people become seriously ill. Cases of illness as well as fatalities occur frequently even in Austria. Over the past few years, therefore, authorities have been taking firmer action. In many cases, entire systems or parts of systems are temporarily closed down if an increased level of legionella or pseudomonad contamination has occurred.
This shows that polluted water not only poses a health risk to users of the system concerned but is also an economic risk for the system operator or the persons responsible. For this reason it is imperative, particularly in hospitals and healthcare facilities, that all necessary measures be taken to maintain the required quality of the drinking water and to prevent any form of bacterial contamination.
Based on the normative and legal requirements, TÜV AUSTRIA’s subsidiary TÜV AUSTRIA HYGIENIC EXPERT GMBH provides system-specific quality assurance systems for all system operators. By implementing and documenting a few simple measures as well as by regularly taking samples from the system, the system operator is able to guarantee the microbiological safety of the drinking water in their system over the long term, to a great extent on their own authority, and to ensure that the relevant standards and laws are adhered to.
Enquiries & contact:
TÜV AUSTRIA HYGIENIC EXPERT GMBH