The facts about COVID-19 and drinking water

A technical brief from the World Health Organisation (WHO) was released in early March for water and sanitation practitioners and providers.

There is no evidence about the survival of the COVID-19 virus in drinking water or sewage, WHO said, adding that the two main routes of transmission are respiratory or contact.

As an enveloped virus, COVID-19 is “not robust”, less stable in the environment and is more susceptible to oxidants, such as chlorine.

Conventional, centralised water treatment methods that use “filtration and disinfection should inactivate the COVID-19 virus”, the Organisation added.

In areas where centralised treatment is not present, “household water treatment technologies” including boiling, or using high-performing ultrafiltration or nanofiltration filters, solar irradiation, and, in non-turbid waters, UV irradiation and appropriately dosed free chlorine”, should be used.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remarked that the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water.”

Coronavirus and Water

“With growing international concern about Coronavirus (COVID-19), water utilities may have questions about potential impacts to their operations and how to respond to customer inquiries about water safety.

Water and wastewater professionals may also have questions about the potential for exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. In a FAQ page for health care professionals, CDC includes the following: 

“Q: What do waste management companies need to know about wastewater and sewage coming from a healthcare facility or community setting with either a known COVID-19 patient or person under investigation (PUI)?

A: Waste generated in the care of PUIs or patients with confirmed COVID-19 does not present additional considerations for wastewater disinfection in the United States. Coronaviruses are susceptible to the same disinfection conditions in community and healthcare settings as other viruses, so current disinfection conditions in wastewater treatment facilities are expected to be sufficient. This includes conditions for practices such as oxidation with hypochlorite (i.e., chlorine bleach) and peracetic acid, as well as inactivation using UV irradiation.

Q: Do wastewater and sewage workers need any additional protection when handling untreated waste from healthcare or community setting with either a known COVID-19 patient or PUI?

A: Wastewater workers should use standard practices including basic hygiene precautions and wear the recommended PPE as prescribed for their current work tasks when handling untreated waste. There is no evidence to suggest that employees of wastewater plants need any additional protections in relation to COVID-19.”

Stantec has published a whitepaper on coronaviruses with considerations and recommendations to water and wastewater professionals. The Water Environment Federation also published The Water Professional’s Guide to COVID-19 and the recording from its Feb. 25 “Updates on Novel Coronavirus for Water Professionals” webcast.”

Calgary city council votes to consider ‘accelerated removal’ of lead pipes

“City of Calgary has identified at least 550 homes connected to lead pipes”

If you are worried that your water may be contaminated by lead, the best way to know that your water is always safe to drink is by using an at home water purifier, such as a Reverse Osmosis Filtration System and or a Water Distiller.