Legionnaire's Disease - Risk of Unmaintained Water Features

Legionnaire's Disease - Risk of Unmaintained Water Features

Water features can add a touch of elegance and serenity to any environment, whether it's a stunning garden fountain, a decorative indoor water fixture, or a grandiose outdoor pond. However, the tranquil beauty of these water features can sometimes mask potential risks, particularly when they are not properly maintained. One such risk is the development and spread of Legionnaire's Disease. Waterscapes explore what Legionnaire's Disease is and how it can affect water features that are left unattended.

What is Legionnaire's Disease?

Legionnaire's Disease is a potentially serious and, in some cases, life-threatening form of pneumonia. It is caused by the Legionella bacteria, which can thrive in water systems that are not adequately maintained. Legionella bacteria are commonly found in natural water sources, but they can also grow in man-made water systems, including hot tubs, cooling towers, and, relevant to this discussion, water features.

How Legionnaire's Disease Spreads

Legionella bacteria become a health concern when they are aerosolised, meaning they are released into the air in tiny water droplets that can be inhaled. In the context of water features, this can happen in several ways:

Fountains and Splashing: Water fountains and decorative water features often create splashes and aerosolized water droplets. If these features contain Legionella-contaminated water, anyone in close proximity may inhale the bacteria.

Water Mist: Some water features incorporate misting systems to create a visually appealing effect. If the water used in these systems is contaminated, it can release infected water droplets into the air.

Poorly Maintained Systems: Water features with stagnant or inadequately treated water can become breeding grounds for Legionella bacteria. The longer water remains untreated and unattended, the higher the risk of contamination.

The Impact of Neglected Water Features

When water features go unattended and are not properly maintained, they become susceptible to Legionella contamination. Here are the potential consequences of having an unclean and unmaintained water feature:

Health Risks: Those exposed to contaminated water features may develop Legionnaire's Disease, leading to severe respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough, and pneumonia. In severe cases, it can be fatal.

Reputation Damage: For businesses or establishments that have water features, an outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease can lead to significant reputation damage and legal implications.

Costly Remediation: Addressing a Legionella contamination issue can be costly, involving disinfection, thorough cleaning, and sometimes the complete overhaul of the water system.

Preventing Legionnaire's Disease in Water Features

To safeguard against the risks associated with Legionnaire's Disease in water features, regular maintenance and water treatment are essential. Here are some key steps to consider:

Routine Cleaning: Regularly clean and disinfect the water feature to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria.

Water Quality Monitoring: Keep an eye on water quality and ensure it meets safety standards.

Adequate Filtration: Install appropriate filtration systems to reduce the risk of contamination.

Consult Experts: Seek the guidance of water feature specialists and consider professional maintenance services to ensure the safety of your water feature.


Water features can enhance the beauty and ambience of any space, but they also come with responsibilities. Neglecting the maintenance of your water feature can have serious consequences, including the risk of Legionnaire's Disease. By staying vigilant, investing in proper maintenance, and following safety guidelines, you can enjoy the beauty of your water feature without putting your health or reputation at risk.

Legionnaire's Disease - Risk of Unmaintained Water Features
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