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Hidden dangers in ornamental water features

Depositphotos 16639685 m 2015

Ornamental water features are becoming a common fixture in many modern buildings, they are often found in hotels, restaurants and office blocks.

Despite being aesthetically pleasing these systems often harbour hidden dangers in the form of legionella bacteria.

With large variations in design and function, each water feature has unique risks. A risk assessment will highlight the specific risks within each system.

When it comes to ornamental water features there are several factors you should consider.

Water source- does the fountain use a water source which could be contaminated with legionella bacteria.

Water temperature- Water between the temperatures of 20 and 45 degrees provides ideal conditions for legionella to grow and multiply. The water temperature within water features can fluctuate significantly as a result of many influencing factors. Submerged pumps and lighting systems are common elements which can increase the water temperature thus increasing the likelihood of legionella developing.

Contamination- The risk of legionella developing is much greater when a strong nutrient source is available. This can take many forms such as rust, sludge, scale organic matter and biofilms. Water features often incorporate intricate designs which predispose the system to the build up of these contaminants within the system.

Water becomes stagnant- If the water feature is regularly turned off allowing the water to become stagnant, there is a much greater possibility of legionella developing within the system.

Ability to create spray- To cause illness legionella bacteria must become airborne and then be inhaled.  If the water feature has the ability to create an aerosol effect the risk of individuals being exposed to legionella are much greater.

If your building contains water features or you are considering installing one but are unsure of the risks and your responsibilities feel free to contact a member of our water safety team. They will be happy to talk you through your responsibilities and advise you on your compliance requirements.