As a senior living provider, your to-do list never ends. You’re managing your team of employees and ensuring that your residents have a high quality of life. You’re so busy that your establishment’s water is probably the last thing on your mind.
An investment in testing your water, however, is an investment in the future of your business and the safety of the older adults who are your residents — who are increasingly susceptible to sickness — and the employees who serve them. From your tap water to the water used by your kitchen staff, the toxins and harmful substances you find might surprise you.
Here are three reasons you should invest in water testing for your senior living community:
1. Your establishment may contain old lead pipes.
Many of us have been conditioned to believe lead is a thing of the past. Over the years, lead has been removed from substances such as paint. Unfortunately, however, we still have to worry about it showing up in our water due to old lead pipes that weren’t regulated until after the 1980s — and lead pipes were not banned from institutions and homes until the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments in 1986. The problem is that unless you’re a plumber, you’ll never know whether your pipes have lead in them. That is why testing your water for lead is crucial.
Lead is one of the most harmful chemicals found in water, especially for seniors who might be drinking it unknowingly. The only way to eliminate lead from water is to filter it out.
Although some people believe that boiling water is the best way to get rid of lead in water, this is actually a myth. Boiling water actually causes lead particles to “loosen up,” making the water even more contaminated than before.
2. Your local utility company can only test so much.
Lead is a problem local utility companies can’t solve, either. Although local utility companies test for contaminants at their facilities, they can’t do much once the water is flowing through your pipes. Because every plumbing system is different, testing for lead is a difficult thing to regulate and measure from a community-wide or city-wide perspective.
The bottom line is that although local utilities work hard to ensure that the water leaving their facilities is safe, your community’s plumbing system is like the wild, wild West. Most water contamination occurs in private plumbing systems or service lines leading up to your community, meaning that even if you have cleaner-than-average city water, your personal water, and your residents who consume it on a daily basis, still could be at risk.
3. Your residents, staff and guests are concerned about water quality.
According to the latest Gallup poll, Americans increasingly are growing worried about polluted drinking water. The percentage of concerned citizens grew from 55% in 2015 to 61% in 2016. It’s crucial to establish peace of mind for residents, their family members and your employees by ensuring that the water they drink from your tap, water fountain or kitchen is safe.
And don’t stop there. If you manage a large community, other components (not just your tap) also may be contaminated, because they’re sourced from the same water line. Ice machines, soda machines and the water with which your on-premise staff may be cooking or working could be contaminated, too. Go above and beyond for your residents and employees by ensuring that all water sources on your premises are clean.
Investing in water testing for your establishment will be one of the best business decisions you make this year. Keeping your water safe from contaminants such as lead and arsenic is an important decision that will increase trust and build a better relationship between you and your residents — and their family members. By investing in the health of your residents, you’ll be making a smart investment in the life of your business.
Megan Glover is CEO and co-founder for 120WaterAudit, a company that provides consumers and institutions a way to know what’s in their water.