Maintaining water quality
At GSA, we help support the safety of federal employees, contractors, and visitors by implementing water quality management guidance in federally owned facilities and leased space under the jurisdiction, custody or control of GSA (GSA-controlled).
GSA is conducting extensive baseline water tests throughout Fiscal Year 2024 and implementing various water quality management best practices to identify and address potential issues, aiming to minimize bacteria growth and metal releases in building water systems. It's crucial to emphasize that the testing is a proactive best practice and does not imply the existence of a known risk.
Proactive approach and guidance
GSA consulted with federal, state, and local agencies along with industry experts, including the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials ASSE 12080 certified Legionella Water Safety and Management Specialists, to exchange information on water quality management. From this industry expertise, we developed a new Order for Drinking Water Quality Management (PBS 1000.7A). It emphasizes a proactive approach to water management and aims to leverage CDC resources for Legionella, using thresholds established by EPA regulations for Public Water Systems, and integrating best practices from industry standards such as ASHRAE Standards 188 & 514, in addition to Guideline 12.
- Outlines our requirements nationwide for effective drinking water standards with a primary emphasis on ensuring the health and safety of federal employees, contractors, and visitors.
- Establishes a proactive approach to managing drinking water quality in GSA-controlled space.
- References and includes many of the best practices outlined in ASHRAE standards 514 and 188, in addition to Guideline 12.
Our water quality management plan: Testing and strategy
GSA’s water quality management strategy is designed to align with key guidelines and standards1. These include leveraging Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resources for Legionella, using thresholds established by the Environmental Protection Agency regulations for Public Water Systems as guidance, and integrating best practices from industry standards such as ASHRAE Standards 188 & 514, in addition to Guideline 12. Our water quality management practices address the following:
- Total coliform
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
We are specifically testing for the presence of these because the results can provide crucial insights into a building’s plumbing infrastructure or incoming water source.
In general, Legionella, total coliform, E. coli, lead and copper can be managed to ensure safe, continued facility use. Effective management relies on taking immediate corrective actions and follow-up testing to verify the effectiveness of those actions. Corrective actions may include flushing, adjusting water temperatures, or building modifications such as replacing pipes or fixtures. While corrective actions are taking place, temporary measures such as providing bottled water may be necessary to ensure safe potable water (e.g., water used for drinking or washing) is available.
Discover how we are managing water quality initiatives
- For additional questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For facility specific information, contact the appropriate GSA Facility Manager or Lease Administration Manager.
- CDC Legionnaires’ Disease Fact Sheet
- CDC’s “Routine Legionella testing: A multifactorial approach to performance indicator interpretation
- CDC’s “How Legionella Affects Building Water Systems and People”
- CDC’s “Controlling Legionella in Potable Water Systems”
- CDC’s Legionella (Legionnaires’ Disease and Pontiac Fever): Causes, How it Spreads, and People at Increased Risk
- OSHA’s Legionellosis (Legionnaires’ Disease and Pontiac Fever)
- CDC's “Routine Legionella Testing in Buildings Without Cases”
- Total Coliform and E. coli
- Standards being used are not federal regulations but industry best practices.
How to protect yourself and minimize risk in the federal workplace
The most important thing you can do to protect yourself when notified of water quality concerns in a federal building is to follow the notices posted on drinking water stations, sinks, showers, and decorative fountains.