GAA clubs have been warned to check their water systems to avoid the risk of members contracting legionnaire’s disease and bacteria such as E. coli.
As it is hoped clubs will be able to return to controlled activities in April, the five-month closure of club facilities means the lack of usage of facilities raises a number of potential issues.
While clubs have been permitted to open for maintenance work such as those on clubhouses, dressing rooms and pitches, the risk of stagnant water has prompted the GAA to highlight the dangers posed.
“It is important that water is not allowed to stagnate within the water system and so there should be careful management of properties left vacant for extended periods,” reads the GAA’s club newsletter for March. “As a general principle, outlets on hot and cold water systems should be used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chances of stagnation.
“To manage the risks during non-occupancy, consideration should be given to implementing a suitable flushing regime or other measures such as draining the system if it is to remain vacant for long periods.” In June 2019, 62 women including several inter-county camogie players fell ill after drinking water in the clubhouse of Croagh-Kilfinny GAA club in Limerick as championship games were taking place at the venue outside Adare.
Many of them were found to have contracted gastroenteritis promoted by Norovirus infection (winter vomiting bug) and tests of the water from the private well showed the presence of coliforms and E. coli.