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WATER MANAGEMENT DANIEL PITCHER – MANAGING DIRECTOR, WATER HYGIENE CENTRE, UK


What the future holds for water safety


Daniel Pitcher, managing director and authorising water engineer at UK-based consultancy Water Hygiene Centre considers recent changes and future developments for water safety.


Legionnaires’ disease was first identified in 1976 after to a large outbreak of pneumonia at a hotel in Philadelphia. Over the last 43 years knowledge of the Legionella bacterium has developed, including its ecology and means of control. There has also been an increased


awareness of other waterborne pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, following an outbreak at a neonatal unit in Belfast in 2012 when three premature babies died due to infection. News of other waterborne pathogens was reported in the journal of the Water Management Society, Waterline.1


The changing nature of taps Over the last 43 years there have been fundamental changes in the design of outlets and water system components. The introduction of thermostatic mixing valves (TMV) has helped to control the risk of scalding. Those who may be at risk include very young, very elderly, infirm, significantly mentally or physically disabled people or those with sensory loss. There has also been the introduction of


filters, strainers and flow straighteners into water distribution systems, taps and tap outlets. Devices are used for a number of reasons such as protection of mechanical components within the TMV from particulates within the water system, to ensure the flow of water from the tap


does not cause excessive ‘splashing’ when the outlet is operated and water is drawn off and for restricting the flow for water conservation. The internal finish on the body of the tap has also changed, instead of roughcast finish they are now a smooth cast on the side to reduce the accumulation of biofilm on the rough surface. That includes the materials used, such as the introduction of copper. The redesign of outlets to include an


integral TMV, meanwhile, facilitates ease of access for servicing and maintenance of the components within the TMV. Some of these designs allow the tap to be taken


Daniel Pitcher


Daniel Pitcher is chief executive of the UK-based Water Hygiene Centre (WHC), which develops services and support for clients, as well as offering UKAS-accredited risk assessments. With 23


years of independent consulting experience, Daniel established WHC in February 2009 to be a centre of excellence dedicated


to independent water safety consultancy. His experience spans auditing, training, development of Water Safety Plans, incident


investigations, competent help support and acting as authorising engineer (water) for NHS trusts, health boards, local government, universities and housing associations. Daniel is an advocate of


independent consultancy, having witnessed and experienced the lack of impartial advice and support given by contractors to organisations.


IFHE DIGEST 2021


apart for cleaning and disinfection and some designs allow the flow of hot water through to the cold side for thermal disinfection. In addition, touch-free taps have been


introduced. Here, a motion sensor activates the flow of water when hands are presented beneath the outlet. Some designs, known as ‘intelligent’ taps, are able to flush automatically in the event of a period of inactivity as well as providing data about the frequency and duration of use.


This very broad overview of the changes charts the development from a simple tap, to a safe tap, to an intelligent tap in this time. The concept of getting things right at the design stage is not a new one, however, when it comes to water safety there is still a clear need for those who are responsible for water safety, e.g. Water Safety Groups, to be more proactively involved with the design of the systems. For one client, a scald risk assessment


completed during the design stage of a new building resulted in the removal of numerous TMVs from outlets around the building. This could be justified based on the end-user determining who will have access and use of the outlets in each location as opposed to a designer, who


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