Water Classification

Category 1 Water

Category 1 water is referred to as “clean water”. Clean water originates from a source that does not pose substantial harm to humans. Examples of clean water sources can include, but are not necessarily limited to, broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows with no contaminants, appliance malfunctions involving water supply lines, melting ice or snow, falling rainwater, toilet tanks, and toilet bowls that do not contain contaminants or additives.

Category 2 Water

Category 2 water it is referred to as “gray water”. Gray water contains a significant level of contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed by or exposed to humans. Gray water carries microorganisms and nutrients for microorganisms. Examples of gray water sources may include but are not necessarily limited to, discharge from dishwashers or washing machines, overflows from washing machines, overflows from toilet bowls with some urine (no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic pressure, broken aquariums and punctured water beds. Gray water may contain chemicals, bio-contaminants, and other forms of contamination including physical hazards.

Time and temperature aggravate category 2 water contamination levels significantly. Gray water in flooded structures that remains untreated for longer than 48 hours may change to category 3 water.

Category 3 Water

Category 3 water is referred to as “black water”. Black water contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary. Black water includes sewage and other contaminated water sources entering or affecting the indoor environment. Category 2 water that is not removed promptly from the structure may be reclassified as category 3 water. Toilet backflows that originate from beyond the toilet trap are considered black water contamination, regardless of visible content or color.

Category 3 water includes all forms of flooding from seawater, ground surface water, and rising water from rivers or streams. Such water sources carry silt and organic matter into structures and create black water conditions.

Water is also considered to be category 3 water in situations where structural materials and/or the contents have been contaminated with such contaminants as pesticide, heavy metals, or toxic organic substances.

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