Water Quality and Storage

Photo by Steve Sara / MCSP

Appropriate Resources:

The WHO’s Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality includes recommendations for ensuring safe drinking water quality, as well as safe water collection and water storage. HCFs should consider their water quality needs for medical procedures and operations, which may require more strict water treatment standards.

Appropriate Staff, Process and Management Considerations:

Drinking water should be treated in accordance with national water quality standards. In HCFs without improved piped water access, protocols to treat stored drinking water and clean water storage containers should be established.

Management and assurance of a clean water supply at a HCF (including treatment, storage and access) require a designated staff person. A continuous stock of consumables (such as water treatment supplies) should be planned for, budgeted and maintained. Potable and non-potable water points should be clearly marked. Patients and visitors should be oriented to potable drinking water points within the facility.

Note: National policies and standards should be consulted when implementing, monitoring or evaluating water quality standards.

MCSP Rapid Assessment Questions:

To improve water quality and storage, each HCF should consider the following questions from MCSP’s HCF rapid assessment tool. The tool was adapted from WHO’s Essential Environmental Standards in Health Care.

Water quality: Water for medical activities, personal hygiene, cleaning and laundry, drinking, and food preparation is safe for the purpose intended.

Design and construction Operation and maintenance
  • Is water from a safe source, i.e., free from fecal and other contamination?
  • Is the safety and quality of the water source monitored regularly?
  • If necessary, can water be treated at the HCF?
  • Are there sufficient supplies and designated, adequately trained staff to carry out treatment?
  • Is the quality of the treated water monitored regularly?
  • Is water safely stored in the HCF, i.e., protected from contamination?
  • Are water storage, distribution and use facilities in the HCF adequately maintained and cleaned to avoid contaminating the water?
  • Is drinking water acceptable (smell, taste, appearance)?
  • If the water is not acceptable is there a safe alternative supply of drinking-water?
  • Is there a dedicated staff person responsible for water quality and storage?
  • Is there a staff person with water quality and storage in their job description?

Additional Tools and Resources for Water Quality and Storage in HCF settings:

  • In 2017, WHO & UNICEF published the WASHFit Tool, which includes essential indicator and advanced indicator assessment tools for water quality and storage (Tool 2), risk assessment templates (Tool 3), and improvement plan templates (Tool 4).
  • Soap Box Collaborative’s WASH and Clean toolkit, which includes various WASH HCF assessment tools. Tool 1: Facility needs assessment Tool, and Tool 3: Walkthrough Checklist have water quality/storage questions.