Managing water quality in premise plumbing: Subject matter experts' perspectives and a systematic review of guidance documents

Rajveer Singh, Kerry A. Hamilton, Md Rasheduzzaman, Zhao Yang, Saurajyoti Kar, Angelita Fasnacht, Sheldon V. Masters, Patrick L. Gurian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Although many guidance documents have been developed to inform the design and operation of building water systems to ensure safe water quality, there is a lack of consensus on some topics. This study interviewed 22 subject matter experts (SMEs) to identify topics of concern for managing water quality in buildings and compared SME views with information available on these topics in 15 systematically screened important guidance documents. The study found 18 design and 11 operational topics as critical for managing water quality in buildings. No one guidance document addressed all these topics, suggesting that a compendium of available guidance is needed. SMEs most frequently recommended temperature and residual disinfectant measurements as good parameters for monitoring overall building water quality. Both SME and guidance document recommendations for temperature for controlling opportunistic pathogen growth were reasonably consistent with water heater setpoint >60 °C. However, hot water temperature recommendations varied between 50 and 55 °C for other locations (i.e., the water temperature at the tap or end of the return loop). On the contrary, recommendations for disinfectant residual levels (0.2-2.0 mg/L), flushing frequency (1-14 days), and allowable time for hot water to reach the tap (10-60 s) were not consistent. While this study was able to reconcile diverging views on some of the water quality topics, such as identifying common guidance for water heater set point to at least 60 °C, it also highlights lack of definitive guidance on other critical topics, such as residual level, flushing frequency, hot water time to tap, and the use of thermostatic mixing valves, indicating that these are significant knowledge gaps that need further investigation. The study concludes that there is a need for developing evidence-based guidance, particularly on the topics where expert opinions diverged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number347
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Disinfectant residual
  • Guidance documents
  • Legionella
  • Mycobacteria
  • Opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens
  • Water heater setpoint temperature
  • Water quality in buildings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Managing water quality in premise plumbing: Subject matter experts' perspectives and a systematic review of guidance documents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this