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City Recommends Restoring Water Quality in Buildings Before Reopening

Stagnant Water Left In Unused Plumbing May Not Be Safe To Drink Until It’s Flushed


Santa Fe, June 1, 2020--Buildings, businesses, rentals, and residences that have been closed or unoccupied for several weeks may experience stagnant water inside the building plumbing due to lack of water usage.  This water may be unsafe to drink or use for commercial or domestic purposes.  Low or no water usage presents optimal conditions for the growth of pathogens like Legionella due to low disinfectant (e.g. chlorine) concentrations and low water temperatures.  Stagnant water also changes water chemistry, which may increase pipe corrosion and leaching of metals, including lead.  It is important to ensure your building water system is safe to use after a prolonged shutdown.

The City of Santa Fe Water Division recommends building owners and managers take the following steps to restore water quality before reopening:

  • Check with the building owner or property manager for existing flushing and system plans. Large buildings and complexes may already have a water management and flushing plan established.  Inspect all piping for leaks and corrosion.
  • Flush Buildings
    1. Flush the service line that runs from the City water main to the building. Run outdoor spigots/faucets for 20 minutes or until chlorine is smelled.
    2. Flush cold-water lines inside the building. Start at the farthest point from the water meter.  Systematically flush toilets and allow water faucets to run in bathrooms, kitchens, utility areas, drinking fountains, etc. for 20 minutes or until chlorine is smelled. Be sure to flush all areas of the building, particularly dead-ends.
    3. Flush hot-water lines for 10 to 15 minutes after flushing cold water lines.
  • Disconnect and clean building point-of-entry water filters, faucet filters, and aerators following manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Drain, flush, and clean devices connected to the plumbing system following manufacturer’s instructions including hot water heaters, ice machines, water storage facilities, spas, humidifiers, and dishwashers.
  • Do not flush concentrated amounts of disinfects/cleaning products directly to sewer – this can cause biological upsets at the City wastewater treatment facility. Always dilute or dechlorinate the water first.

For more information and guidance please visit:

EPA - Information on Maintaining or Restoring Water Quality in Buildings with Low or No Use: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/information-maintaining-or-restoring-water-quality-buildings-low-or-no-use

CDC Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation (includes business-specific guidance including hotels, pools, spas, and healthcare centers): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html

City of Santa Fe Water Division:  https://www.santafenm.gov/water_division

 COVID-19 Related Water Quality Information

The City of Santa Fe Water Division is confident that we will continue to deliver safe drinking water throughout the COVID-19 pandemic because of advanced treatment processes and stringent monitoring protocols.

  • Our water comes from the Rio Grande, the Upper Santa Fe River, and deep groundwater wells. 
  • It is possible that the Rio Grande may contain corona virus at some point during this pandemic, however our surface water treatment plants are designed to remove and inactivate viruses. Santa Fe River water treated at the Canyon Road Water Treatment Plant is from a closed watershed, and as a result is fairly pristine.
  • Rio Grande water is treated by the Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) Advanced Water Treatment Plant. BDD uses both conventional and advanced treatment processes to achieve over 99.999% removal of microbial and viral contaminants.
  • According to a 2008 University of Arizona study, coronaviruses have not been found to be more resistant to water treatment than other microorganisms which are removed/inactivated by treatment plants. See https://www.wateronline.com/doc/coronavirus-and-the-water-cycle-here-is-what-treatment-professionals-need-to-know-0001 for more information.
  • Santa Fe’s wells have never tested positive for microbial contaminants at the source, and well water and water from the surface water treatment plants is disinfected with chlorine prior to distribution to prevent possible contamination within the distribution system (pipes).
  • All City of Santa Fe water treatment processes are continuously monitored by licensed water operators Water in the distribution system is also sampled to ensure regulated standards are met throughout the system.
  • The Water Division treatment processes meet standards and regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are generally as stringent as guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the quality of bottled water. In addition, EPA requirements make it easier to know what is in tap water.  https://www.ewg.org/research/your-bottled-water-worth-it/bottle-vs-tap-double-standard
  • The City of Santa Fe Water Division has approximately 3 days (19 million gallons) of treated water in storage throughout the City.



To report a Water Leak, Water Main Break or Frozen Meter call (505) 955-4333


The mission of the City of Santa Fe Water Division is to provide a reliable, safe and sustainable water supply to meet the needs of our customers and our community. The Water Division provides the following services and information on:


 Location and Phone

801 W. San Mateo (map)
(505) 955-4333

Monday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m

Tuesday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m

Wednesday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m

Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m

Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m


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