Guide to Minimizing Legionella Risk in Hotels


The complex piping systems of hotels have several potential places Legionella bacteria can grow and spread. These locations include sinks, showerheads, water storage tanks, ice machines, pools, hot tubs, cooling towers, and even that decorative water fountain in the hotel lobby. Unfortunately, every year hundreds of reported Legionnaires’ disease cases are associated with travel and hotel stays.

What is one vital way hotels can mitigate this risk?

The good news is that hotels can reduce growth of Legionella bacteria and other waterborne pathogens by implementing a Water Management Program. A complete Water Management Program will assess the water systems at the hotel and come up with site-specific actions for maximizing water safety.

The proactive measure of having a Water Management Program shows that the hotel owners are committed to a safe environment for both their guests and their employees. If a problem in the water piping system arises, this document serves as a clear guide to locate, assess, and respond to the problem quickly. By following this guide, a hotel can decrease risk of waterborne pathogens, increasing safety and reducing liability.

A comprehensive Water Management Program will touch upon the following general recommendations based on ASHRAE Guideline 12-2000[1] including but not limited to:

  • The cold-water system should be stored and distributed below 68°F.
  • The hot-water system should be stored above 140°F and circulated with a minimum return temperature of 124°F. In order to avoid scalding problems, thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) should be installed. If a building cannot be retrofitted with TMVs, the temperature should periodically be increased to 150°F and flushed. Alternatively, secondary treatment may be sensible.
  • Periodic removal of shower heads and tap aerators to clean out sediment and scale is recommended. These should be disinfected and reinstalled, or replaced.
  • All water outlets such as faucets, showers and tub spouts should be flushed on a regular basis especially when not in use. Per CIBSE TM13:2013[2], weekly flushing of these devices for several minutes can significantly reduce the number of Legionella bacteria discharged from the outlet.

Barclay Water Management has experts ready to help hotels implement and keep Water Management Programs up to date, lessening the risk of guests and employees contracting Legionnaires’ disease. Our services include Legionella bacteria sampling, testing by a CDC ELITE certified laboratory, and result interpretation. Click on the "Contact us!" button to discuss Barclay’s Legionella bacteria control methods.

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[1] ASHRAE Guideline 12-2000.Minimizing the Risk of Legionellosis Associated with Building Water Systems. Published 2000.

[2] The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers TM13:2013 Minimizing the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease. Published 2013.


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