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Hotels are some of the biggest consumers of water throughout the United Kingdom. Hotel employees use water for various reasons: cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, keeping the lawn or garden lush, etc. It is also an essential element in different features and facilities found in hotels such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis, water fountains and the like. Guests, of course, need water for drinking, bathing, and personal hygiene in general.
Since water is something that everyone working and staying in a hotel uses, these establishments have the huge responsibility of ensuring that it is safe for use and consumption. Using water testing kits is an effective way of confirming this.

When hotels regularly conduct this type of test, they will immediately know if there are unhealthy pathogens found in their water sources and features. They can then take the appropriate remedial actions immediately.

Hotels, in particular, have to regularly conduct tests to determine the presence of Legionella – a water-borne strain of bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. This potentially life-threatening pathogen is often found in places of accommodation with complex water systems. By law, and to safeguard their reputation, hotels need to be on their constant guard regarding the possible existence of these unhealthy bacteria that can cause their guests and employees to be ill.

Where to Check for Legionella

Since hotels receive numerous guests on a daily basis, such establishments have several water sources, systems and features. If you are a hotel owner, manager or appointed person in charge of Legionella control, make sure the following water sources, features and areas are regularly tested:

1. Water storage tanks

Tanks are essential fixtures in nearly all hotels. They are crucial for ensuring all areas and rooms in the hotel have water for all workers and guests to use. If the water temperature in a cold water storage tank rises above 20°C or in a hot water cylinder (Calorifier) drops to below 60°C, there is a risk of legionella bacteria proliferating. In addition to temperature issues, Calorifiers will accumulate scale and sludge providing the ideal environment for the legionella bacteria to grow. Calorifiers need to have regular blowdowns to prevent build up.

2. Showers

Legionella bacteria favour bathrooms, particularly the shower area. Again, this is because many shower systems sustain temperatures between 20° C and 45° C. Showerheads are also prone to scale, sludge and rust build-up, which means these can harbour the dreaded bacteria, too.

In addition, if you own a large hotel, you may have a complex plumbing system. Long pipes can lead to a risk of warm and standing water, thereby encouraging Legionella growth.

3. Swimming pools and spas

Legionella bacteria (and a host of other microbes) are often found in whirlpool spas, Jacuzzis and swimming pools. They are all suitable breeding grounds for the bacteria due to the water circulation in these facilities and the accumulation of nutrients from the dirt and dead skin of the people that use the spa or pool. If these features already have harmful germs, people who are even just near them can inhale the contaminated water particles. This can also cause them to be ill.

4. Water features

Fountains and other types of water features are linked with a high risk of Legionella because of their design. Since they spray water, the aerosol they produce is a key way in which Legionella can be transmitted. Dirty pumps, remote lighting, UV units and other water feature components also affect the temperature of the water which encourages the proliferation of the bacteria.

5. Lawn sprinklers

If your hotel has a front and back yard, chances are you have an irrigation system. Just like fountains, they spray out contaminated water droplets which people can accidentally inhale. In general, there is a higher risk of Legionella being present in these droplets since the sprinkler system is outside where temperatures are high enough for the bacteria to grow.

6. Food display humidifiers

Humidifiers that are used to keep your guests’ food warm can also be harbouring Legionella. This is especially true if the water tanks supplying the humidifier have temperatures favourable for bacteria growth. Periods of stagnation when the pipes aren’t being used can also lead to scale, slime and biofilm accumulation. When water from these sources evaporate or steam in the humidifier, they can act as aerosols that can spread the bacteria to people.

7. Hands-free faucets

Lastly, specialists from John Hopkins University conducted a study and found that the Legionella bacteria were present in 50% of water samples taken from an automatic tap whereas only 15% are found in water that came from a manual tap. According to the persons who conducted the study, the reason behind this may be the more complex valve components found in hands-free taps which provide more surfaces for the bacteria to grow.

To maintain a stellar reputation and sustain the growth of your hospitality business, don’t take for granted the simple yet crucial procedures that can jeopardise the health of your guests and even your employees. One of these basic processes is water testing. Make sure this is done regularly and that you choose the right kit. It is also important that you select a reputable brand or supplier of water testing kits so that you can get accurate results which you can use to maintain and improve the good quality of water in your establishment.

Author: Duncan Hollis