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Help – Everything is flooded! Why should I care what kind of water it is? What now?

Did you know that all water is not created equal? Although all types of water can cause mold amplification and promote the growth of other microorganisms, determining the source of water causing damage in homes and buildings is important in order to classify the correct level of risk associated with exposure and human health. Because of this, public health and water restoration officials have created “categories of water,” a method of risk assessment used to determine health risks associated with each type of flooding. This is also used to determine which steps are needed for the flood restoration process.

Category 1 Water– This category of water is considered to be clean and sanitary at the releasing source, such as faucets, toilet tanks and drinking fountains. Despite this, it can quickly degrade into a Category 2 if it is contaminated with soils, leaks within floor coverings, or enters building assemblies (walls, decking, subflooring, etc.).

Category 2 Water– Formerly known as “grey water,” this category of water has more health risks than Category 1. It contains some degree of contamination that can cause discomfort or illness if ingested. Examples of Category 2 water damage includes dishwasher or machine overflows, flushes from sink drains, and toilet overflow with urine (not feces).

Category 3 Water– Formerly known as “black water,” this category of water is grossly unsanitary. It can cause death or serious illness if ingested. Examples of Category 3 water are sewer backups, rising floodwater from rivers and streams, toilet overflow with feces and stagnant liquid that has begun to support microbial growth.

Knowing the category of water aids greatly in the risk assessment and the restoration plans for damaged homes, buildings and furnishings. Having the right knowledge and tools for the job is paramount for assessing the damage and beginning the repair process.

For more information about health risks from the different categories of water, creating or maintaining a Water Management Program, or other ways in order to reduce risk of unhealthy consequences, e.g., Legionella exposures, mold amplification or microorganism growth in your building’s water systems, contact the experts at Cogency at