Unit 2: Quality checking water sources

Water supplies should be kept clean and fresh, as this will encourage people to keep coming back for more! Studies have found that poorly maintained water supplies and storage vessels can harbour water contaminated with bacteria such as e-coli, Staphylococcus aureus (from the mouth, nose and throat) and Pseudomonas (commonly associated with stagnant water). The presence of these bacteria could be as a result of one or more of the following:

  • Insufficient and poor cleaning of the taps, trays and dispenser casings.
  • Cross contamination from the poor personal hygiene of users.
  • Old filters that have not been replaced.
  • Inadequate cleaning and maintenance of the dispenser pipe work.
  • Drinking directly from taps resulting in contact with saliva, lips and fingers.
  • Growth of algae and mould if the cooler or water fountain is located in direct sunlight.

Maintenance and cleaning

It is important that your school has a strict maintenance and cleaning schedule in place in order to ensure that drinking facilities are kept the best condition at all times.

A. Water coolers

If your school plans to use large bottled water coolers, it is important to note that bottled water is defined by legislation as a food product. It must therefore be treated as such at each stage from its abstraction at the source and all the way to dispensing from the water cooler into the cup. If water is left for more than three months a film called “bio film” begins to form and this creates an ideal home for bacteria. Regular sanitisation is required to ensure deep cleaning is performed on the parts of the cooler that come into contact with the water. Effective cleaning and sanitisation removes any possibility of any type of bacterial growth. The British Water Cooler Association (BWCA) recommends that bottled water coolers are appropriately sanitised every 13 weeks. Cooler taps are also susceptible to bacterial growth and this is especially true in schools and nurseries. The British Water Cooler Association recommends the use of a sanitation solution to spray onto the taps regularly, and at ‘bottle change’ to spray the spike into the cooler and the new bottle top.

B. Point of Use Water Dispensers

A point of Use Water Dispenser is similar to a water cooler, except that it is plumber directly into the mains water supply and do not require plastic bottle re-fills. It is essential for health and hygiene that these Point of Use water dispensers are regularly maintained and sanitised. The supplier should carry out this maintenance procedure at the beginning of each term, but no less than once every 6 months. It is the responsibility of the site manager, or head teacher to ensure this is carried out within the correct timescales.

C: Water fountains

One of the key considerations when installing and maintaining water fountains is water pressure. Low water pressure heightens the risk of cross contamination because it means that children are unable to drink without having to suck on or touch the metal spout with their lips. In order to minimise risks, It is advisable that the water fountain is adequately flushed through at the beginning of each school week, as well as after any period of holiday closure. In addition, the tap and drip tray should be thoroughly cleaned every day with a mild detergent and food-standard antibacterial surface cleaner. d. Water Bottles: Most schools rely on pupils bringing in their own water bottles to be refilled however it is essential that these are kept clean. Guidance on the best way of keeping bottles clean is provided below:

  • These bottles should be used only for water.
  • It is preferable for children and parents to take responsibility for cleaning the bottles daily at home.
  • Wash the bottles daily in warm soapy water, scrub the sports caps with a brush, rinse, and leave the bottles to air-dry upside down in a hygienic place; or wash them in a dishwasher if the bottles are suitable.
  • Once a week, the bottle and the cap should be soaked in a solution of sanitiser e.g. Milton and used as per label instructions. Rinse both the bottle and the cap again and leave the bottle sealed. Rinse the bottle and the cap again before filling for use water bottles.

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