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How long is too long to have the water off in a school which affects toilets?

Having running water is a fundamental requirement for any workplace, not just for flushing toilets but also for hygiene and drinking. For more information, please visit our Workplace Facilities and Drinking Water webpages.

We are certain that restoring the water supply is of utmost importance to your principal, who will have wasted no time in engaging someone to fix the connection. Assuming the water disconnection was unplanned, the key to assessing your employer's obligation to provide running water and determining how long it can be off is to establish what may be considered 'reasonably practicable.'

For instance, what controls can be implemented? Are there portable toilets available? Do any of the toilets have gravity-fed cisterns that can still provide a limited number of flushes? Can potable water be brought in for drinking and handwashing? Is it possible to purchase bottled water? Are there nearby facilities that accompanied students can safely access for the day?

Compounding and complicating the issue, even if the decision were made to close the school early, you would still have several children on-site under your care who cannot be picked up until at least home time, and possibly not before after-school care has concluded.

That said, the longer the water remains off, the less reasonable it becomes to continue operating.

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