Water Management for Construction

Addressing construction activity risk factors for
safe building water activation.

Common Questions about Water Management for Construction

WMC - What is WMC
What is Water Management for Construction?

Phigenics Water Management for Construction, or WMC, addresses known construction risk factors within your organization’s Water Management Program for alignment with ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188. Phigenics integrates risk management, facilities management, planning design & construction, and real estate management for defensible consistency within the WMC service offerings.

Why are construction activities included in water management?

Construction activities are required to be addressed per ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188 Section 4.2: “...completed prior to occupancy of a new building and before construction begins on renovations, additions, or modifications to existing buildings.”

WMC - What are the commonly-known risk factors 1
What are the commonly-known construction activity risk factors?

1. Lack of Commissioning water safety during beneficial occupancy
2. Excavation
3. Underground utility connections
4. Vibration activities
5. Repressurization (start-up and shut-down of system)
6. Demolition activities
7. Construction equipment with water reservoirs
8. Water main challenges/breaks
9. Efficiency design challenges

WMC - How can an INDEPENDENT water management expert provide value during construction 1
How can an independent water management expert provide value during construction?

Benefits of water management during construction include:
1. Reduced risk of waterborne disease at building start-up
2. Increased building owner defensibility
3.  Improved real estate / asset management
4. Reduced long term impacts of soil / sediment invasion leading to premature growth of biofilms in building distribution system
5. Development of baseline water safety information to know your building has a “clean bill of water health” prior to servicing the public.

WMC -When during the construction process should validation testing occur 1
When during the construction process should validation testing occur?

Validation testing needs to be carefully thought out in alignment with your project's construction schedule of activities from groundbreaking through first-day of business operations. Common times to validate are after flushing and disinfection protocols are implemented during construction and commissioning, as well as just prior to the first-day of business operations.

WMC - Doesnt my contractor already test the water during construction 1
Doesn’t my contractor already test the water for Legionella during construction?

Unlikely. Most contractors are testing for coliforms and E.coli to assure the water entering the building main is drinkable. Unless the project specifications specifically address water management activities, few contractors including plumbing sub trades are familiar with a formal process for water management during construction to protect building systems from pre-mature biofilm spread and growth of waterborne pathogens like Legionella. We train and advise your project team on how to select qualified contractors and plumbing sub trades to work on your team.

WMC - How do I determine which waterborne pathogens should be tested 1
How do I determine which waterborne pathogens should be tested?

Your organization will need to review which disease cases are most common within your industry or building type. For non-healthcare this is typically Legionella. For healthcare providers we suggest an infection prevention and control specialist be consulted for commonly occurring infectious disease cases related to Legionella, Pseudomonas, Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM), Aspergillus, or Fusarium among others.

WMC - How do I know if my construction policies are up to date 1
How do I know if my construction policies are up to date?

Most construction policies are in alignment with plumbing codes and are not in alignment with ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188. Your policies can be audited for a review for missing information related to construction activities impacting waterborne pathogens and commissioning activities to reduce the risk of illness, injury or death. For healthcare providers, we can also review your ICRA (Infection Control Risk Assessment) policies for incorporating water safety during construction activities.

Water Management for Construction service offerings include:

During Construction Activities
WMC During
Construction Activities
WMC - Rapid Start-Up
WMC During
Rapid Start-Up
WMC - During Construction Activities ICON ONLY 1

WMC During Construction Activities

Develop a project specific water management plan for construction using the 7-steps of water management per ASHRAE Standard 188. Phigenics will assist your water management and construction team to

  • Analyze hazards and controls related to construction activity risk factors.
  • Address building water distribution systems impacted by construction project scope of work.
  • Address hazards and controls for renovation, addition, demolition, campus expansions, or new construction projects.
WMC - During Commissioning Activities ICON ONLY 1

WMC During Rapid Start-up

Phigenics will assist your water management and construction team to:

  • Develop a project specific water management commissioning plan for all water systems (potable and utility) including procedures for flushing and disinfection from beneficial occupancy to first business (patient) day of public operations (building opening).
  • Develop strategy for sampling plan and validation testing by locations, types of testing and number of tests.
  • This service should overlap 1 - 3 months post-construction/building opening activities to assure systems are operating safely and efficiently.
  • A commissioning plan must also be considered when re-opening dormant buildings.

How do you get started with WMC?

optimize 1

WMC Process Chart 1

When implementing requirements for ANSI/ASHRAE Std.188, building owners are required to perform WMP surveys for existing buildings, plus any renovation, addition or modification to an existing building prior to construction, as well as prior to occupancy of any new building.

As part of advancing best practices for your organization’s water management program, through the phiConstruction service offerings Phigenics works with your water management team to address water safety issues during construction activities, including:

  • Alignment with ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188
    + Section 4.2 Building Owner Requirements (during construction)
    + Section 8.4 Commissioning (during building start-up and operations)
  • Water service disruptions during demolition, new construction and renovation activities
  • Soil / sediment invasion of water systems
  • Proper flushing and disinfection of water systems from Building Owner’s beneficial occupancy through the first business day of operations

9 Construction Risk Factors:


phiConstruction - Commissioning 1Improper disinfection, flushing, monitoring, and balancing of the building water distribution system can lead to poor water quality at building start-up. Often the water distribution system is checked to be functioning, however the quality of the water is not verified or validated through proper water management at building start-up.


phiConstruction - Excavation 1

Invasion of soil and sediment into the water main or building water distribution system can create discolored water. If left unresolved biofilm growth could occur. Construction teams often falsely assume basic flushing will remove all particulate matter.


phiConstruction - Repressurization 1Loosens the soil, sediment, or biofilms within piping which can dislodge during pressurization activities for building start-up and system shut-downs.


phiConstruction - Demolition 1Paving materials, buildings, or piping distribution systems being demolished could create or disrupt:

  • airborne pathogens that come in contact with a water reservoir
  • building distribution system water flow
  • opportunities for soil and sediment invasion
Efficiency Design

phiConstruction - Efficiency Design 1Challenges arising from installation of plumbing components for water efficiency or conservation methods which are subsequently not checked or calibrated for proper flow at building start up including water heaters, water loops, or terminal fixtures (sinks or shower heads).

Underground Utility Connections

phiConstruction - Underground Utility Connections 1Installation of new, repaired, or maintenance of underground water distribution piping which:

  • Loosens soil, sediment or biofilms within piping
  • Increases risk associated with other construction risk factors such as excavation, demolition, repressurization, and water main breaks.
Construction Equipment

phiConstruction - Construction Equipment 1Construction equipment using water reservoirs are brought onsite, yet never checked for water quality before use. These machines could come from industrial areas using non-potable water sources or contain stagnant water. These devices usually include spray functions or misters to perform construction operations such as water tankers for controlling dust, hose sprayers, or paving equipment.

Water Main Breaks

phiConstruction - Water Main Breaks 1Planned or unplanned events both on or off the building owner’s property causing stagnation and discolored water events. Building owners often continue to pull soil, sediment, and discolored water into their building distribution piping through flushing, which can become a source of waterborne pathogen growth and spread.


phiConstruction - Vibration 1Activities such as foundation pile driving, jackhammering, and removal of underground tunnels or structural systems can create vibration which will dislodge biofilms in adjacent structures.


Why doesn’t my general contractor do this already?

The current plumbing codes and project specifications do not include information about water management. The industry is in a cycle of standards development for water management and most of these professionals are not trained in water management best practices, standards, and codes to reduce waterborne pathogen growth and spread.

Does this mean we are expected to test every fixture in the facility?

No. Testing every fixture is not necessary, however testing one fixture in a new building is not adequate either. Phigenics has developed a method of rapidly screening the building with an appropriate number of fixtures based upon four factors:
1) overall square footage and order of magnitude of project scope;
2) number of levels of the building;
3) functional areas of the building per floor; and
4) common high construction activity risk factors.

When the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188 indicates disinfection during commissioning does it imply hyperchlorination? Also, how about super heating?

Section 8.4 addresses commissioning and directly references AWWA C651 and C652 which does require hyperchlorination or a process as defined by local codes with authorities having jurisdiction. Superheating maybe an additional control during construction and commissioning depending on specific circumstances. However, some base form of disinfection and flushing is stated in plumbing codes, ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 188, and AWWA C651 & C652.

How much flushing should be completed prior to occupancy?

Based on projects complete with Phigenics, our water management teams experience high volumes of water and extended flushing protocols (time, duration, frequency) are necessary prior to occupancy to reduce Total Heterotrophic Aerobic Bacteria (THAB) counts to ≤ 10^3 CFU/mL to indicate good water quality. The recommended flushing duration and frequency is highly dependent upon capacity of water (water volume) within the plumbing distribution system and the ability to turn over the water in this system weekly.

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