Although many airports supply potable water from domestic water supplies directly to aircraft via hose, there are still many water trucks used to service aircraft. With more and more attention paid to the quality of drinking water – especially the potential for harmful bacteria to affect young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems – it’s critical for operators of service trucks to properly and routinely clean and test their potable water trucks. In addition to checking the tanks, it’s important to the check the condition of the hoses, connectors and ports.
It’s important to check that potable tanks are clearly placarded “Drinking Water Only” to insure they are not contaminated with non-potable water or any other liquid. In addition, it’s important that all hoses used to fill drinking water be separately stored and labeled and used exclusively for drinking water. If not separately stored, the hose ends should be protected from contamination by appropriate caps. It defeats the purpose of having properly cleaned and inspected tanks if the same care is not taken with the hoses and connectors which can introduce contaminants and bacteria into an aircraft’s water supply.
As I travel through many airports and observe ramp side operations, I still see far too many water service trucks with their hose couplings touching the ground. This is clearly not an appropriate way to ensure contaminant-free drinking water.