Water hygiene control measures

Legionnaires' disease

Legionnaires' disease is an uncommon pneumonia-like illness caused by Legionella bacteria and is potentially fatal. It is caused by breathing in small droplets of water from contaminated sources containing Legionella bacteria.

Everyone is susceptible to infection; however, some people are at higher risk. These include:

  • People over 45 years of age
  • Smokers and heavy drinkers
  • People suffering with respiratory or kidney disease or anyone with an impaired immune system

Legionella bacteria are found in natural water sources and at low levels are comparatively harmless. It is when these bacteria our brought into buildings that we provide it with the environmental conditions to multiply and grow, therefore increasing the risk. The main ingredients required for Legionella to spread are temperature and nutrients. Legionella can multiply where the temperature is between 20℃ degrees and 45℃ degrees. Where water is stagnating any sludge, rust or scale can settle in one place giving the bacteria the nutrients to grow. Fouled or scaled shower heads or taps can also provide nutrients.


What you can do

Simple and easy precautions can keep your home's water supply clean and healthy.

The 4 key steps are:

  • Keep your hot water hot - Warning: beware of scalding from hot water
  • Keep your cold water cold
  • Keep your water circulated
  • Keep shower heads and taps clean and in a scale free condition

Inform us if the boiler or hot water cylinder are not working correctly. Hot water should be at a temperature of at least 50℃ degrees at the tap within one minute of flushing.

Stored hot water should be set so that the cylinder achieves 60℃ degrees in temperature for a minimum of an hour a day. You should not interfere with the settings of your boiler or hot water system. Warning: beware of scalding from hot water

Tell us if cold water is running warmer after 2 minutes of flushing. Cold water should not be above 20℃ degrees.

Tell us if you have any consistent issues with debris or discolouration of hot or cold water.

Showers (if fitted)

If your shower is only used occasionally, they should be flushed through for at least 2 minutes once a week on the hottest setting.

It is preferable to have the shower head removed from the hose to reduce the aerosol droplet production, but if this is not possible or practical, you can place a plastic bag over the shower till full then slowly pour away.

Shower heads should be cleaned and descaled at least every 3 months but more often if required. A store-bought disinfection cleaner is more than adequate for this job.

Holidays - away from home

When a property has been left vacant for more than a week it is recommending that all taps, showers and outlets are flushed through thoroughly.

All taps should be run slowly for 1 minute to avoid creating any aerosol droplets and after the minute slowly fully opened and left to run for 4 more minutes. You should be careful at this stage not to let water overflow from sinks or basins - adjust how much the tap is opened if required.

Flush your toilet twice with the lid down before using.

Infrequently used outlets

You may have outlets that you know are not used on a regular basis. Common examples of these of outside garden taps or secondary toilets and bathrooms. These outlets should be flushed through on a weekly basis.

Saving water in the home

Saving water matters:

  • Saving money - If your household is on a water meter then the tips below could save you money.
  • Helping the environment - The Environment Agency has warned that the UK could face serious water shortages in the next 25 years. This is down to the growth of our population and therefore additional consumption of water added to the threat of global warming brining hotter drier summers.

Baths and showers

Baths and showers are accountable for the most water usage in a household.

A short shower with the right shower head fitted can mean using less water than an average bath. The average shower uses 12 litres of water per minute, so timing is key. The optimum shower time should be 4 minutes. Try to time your shower and see how long you actually shower for.

Sometimes though, we all need a good soak in the bath. Try to reduce the level of the bath water by just a few inches as this could save around 10 litres of water.


Another big user of water in the house is the toilet. Dual toilets, which have two buttons instead of one, can on average save nearly 10 litres per flush compared to an older style flush system. However, most people don't realise which button is which and end up pressing both. One of the buttons releases less water and is meant to flush liquid waste. The other button will release a greater amount of water and is meant for solid waste.

On single button toilet cisterns, you can add a cistern displacement device where it will reduce the amount of water in the cistern.

Leaking toilets can account for an additional usage of nearly 200 litres of water a day! If your toilet is leaking you should Report a repair


Using a dishwasher fully loaded and set to the eco mode can be more effective than washing dishes by hand. However, research has shown that half of people that use a dishwasher do not use the eco mode. Ensure if using a dishwasher that you wait till its full and use the best setting for saving water and energy. Washing the pots by hand using a bowl or putting the plug into the sink can reduce water wastage by 50% percent. Additionally, if you are running the hot tap to get it hot, try catching the cold water in a jug or bottle which can then be used elsewhere.

When buying a new washing machine try to pick one which has a good average usage, anything under 8 litres per KG is good. Ensure that the washing machine is full on each use and the correct setting picked.

In the garden

Watering the grass is the biggest usage of water in the garden. Using a hose and sprinkler can use up to 1000 litres of water an hour. Check the weather before watering the grass, if rain is due let nature do the watering. If you must water the grass using a hose, use it early morning or late evening as this is when the grass has the best evaporation rates.

Where possible use a watering can rather than a hose. This will not only reduce the amount of water used, but will ensure that all plants get the right coverage. Additionally, if possible install a water butt in the garden.

Save Water Save Money has a great range of products to reduce water consumption and save money, some of which are free!

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