The Manufacturers Standardization Society of the Valve and Fittings Industry Inc. states that with uninstalled products exposed to floodwater, the best course of action to ensure public safety and reliability of utility systems is to avoid installation of the floodwater-contaminated products. Some processes for sanitizing products may detrimentally affect product performance and will not mitigate damage to elastomers from floodwater contaminants.
After considering sanitation of floodwater-exposed surfaces in contact with potable water, municipalities should conduct an active inspection and maintenance program of installed products, in accordance with the appropriate American Water Works Association manuals of water supply practices.
Floodwater, particularly when widespread from natural disasters as experienced with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, most likely contains various organic and inorganic contaminants that may detrimentally affect human health and performance of waterworks products. These contaminants may be absorbed by product components such as elastomer seals and coatings. For example, EPDM, a prominent elastomer specified by domestic municipalities, suffers degradation when exposed to petroleum-based material. It is possible that these absorbed contaminants may later be released into a potable water supply if exposed products are installed within a municipal water system.
Members should check with their product distributors and manufacturers if they have concerns.