may be risk-averse and include TMVs where they are not required. As such changes to tap design, interaction and mode of use will continue through manufacturers advancements and feedback from end users/clients.

Intelligence Having just touched on the development of intelligent water systems, there is another trend that has gathered pace in recent years - the use of remote monitoring systems. At present we have building management systems that record hot water generator temperatures, cold water cistern temperatures and maybe the sentinel outlets. The use of these electronic systems is on the increase, where the assets, i.e. outlets, TMVs, showers etc, that comprise the water system are all uniquely identified and their routine monitoring and maintenance is automatically recorded and tracked. This data is a powerful way of reporting the state of compliance to Water Safety Groups – as long as the data is accurate. This means that all risk systems and assets must be known and captured in the system and that operatives undertaking the monitoring and maintenance and those interrogating the system should have been suitably trained. In a recent survey by Forbes it suggests a high majority (90 per cent) of businesses recognise the importance of equipping workers with the best technologies to fulfil their roles.2

It highlighted this as a

positive opportunity, with 43 per cent of respondents believing it empowers workers and allows them to focus on ‘higher-value’ tasks. Yet too often it remains overlooked. Thinking about equipping workers with

the best technologies to fulfil their roles, a time will come when the manual monitoring of water temperatures will be replaced with remote monitoring sensors. With the issue of the HSG274 Technical Guidance Part 2 in 2014 the US Health and Safety Executive (HSE) introduced a need to complete return loop temperature monitoring. The location of these ‘loops’ around a building will invariably be in places that are difficult to access but the use of remote monitoring sensors can remove, or significantly reduce, the need to physically access these parts of the system. Development in monitoring using

remote sensing technology is starting to reshape what is possible through real time data; which is an example of how modern technologies can provide Water Safety Groups with opportunities to transform compliance data and provide more robust evidence of system performance. The ability to respond to automated critical alerts, such as failures in temperature control, in a timely fashion is paramount to continued system 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

The use of remote monitoring will mean

that workers can focus on the ‘higher value’ task, i.e. responding to failures quickly with less impact on the resources available for the preventative maintenance that reduces failures in the first instance. It makes sense to partner with a technology specialist who can support the monitoring processes previously completed manually and potentially improve the strength of your compliance data.

Faster testing Taking a sample of water from a tap, sending this to a lab for legionella analysis and waiting on the final result (often more than ten days) is a slow process that can be thwarted if processes are not properly followed, i.e. methods of sampling, handling and transportation can significantly impact on the reliability of the results and as such sampler and laboratory competence is hugely important. The plate-culture method detailed in

guidance documents for the enumeration of Legionella bacteria is seen as the gold standard and is used by United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited laboratories. There are limitations to this method that were detailed in an article published in the Winter 2015/16 edition of Waterline: l Length of time taken to obtain a reportable result.

l Poor sensitivity and poor recovery. l Inability to detect ‘viable but non- culturable’ cells (VBNC).

l Inhibition from other competing flora.

The article from Waterline introduced PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing for the rapid detection of legionella in environmental samples. The benefit of PCR testing is that a result is returned within 24 hours. PCR still has some hurdles to clear before it can be fully embraced, such as interpreting the results returned in ‘genomic units’ that are not directly

comparable to the widely understood colony forming units (CFU/L) used in the culture method. PCR detects target DNA whether it is damaged, dead, dying or viable-but-non- culturable, whereas the culture method detects viable cells only. In tests completed by Public Health England (PHE) PCR achieved 100 per cent negative predication values, so its use as a negative screen within 24-hours is huge benefit over culture method. PHE and HSE continue to develop culture/PCR data to provide understanding and aid users with possible future guidance. Immunomagnetic Separation (IMS) is

another rapid detection method for legionella. The process of using microscopic magnetic particles that have been coated with antibodies for the target microorganism, in this case Legionellae. These beads are blended with a sample, the coating of antibodies allows the particles to bind with the cell surface antigens. The beads do not bind well with dead

cells (so detection of dead cells, i.e. false positives is not an issue). The next stage is the addition of colour marker antibody to the captured cells. The colour presented is proportional to the number of cells. Use of quantitative colorimetry provides an accurate cell count. The exact identity of the microorganism can be confirmed with PCR. There are other rapid testing methods such as MALDI-TOF and Most Probable Number (MPN) which are also developing at pace. Attending conferences, seminars and

routinely reading journals and papers there are always interesting developments in water safety such as rapid microbiological testing, developments with outlets, developments with pipework, advances in control strategies, water safety plans and water safety groups. There is very little news when it

comes to advances in water monitoring IFHE DIGEST 2021

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