COVID-19 and Water

What we know as of April 15, 2020

As the number of reported COVID-19 cases continues to increase across North America, NALMS’ staff and Executive Committee have received questions about the fate of the novel coronavirus in waterways. We are monitoring relevant research findings. So far, most of the information available is specific to drinking water and wastewater.

At this time, there is agreement in the public health community that the new coronavirus responds to the same kinds of washing and disinfection treatments used to combat related viruses, such as the virus that caused the 2003 SARS epidemic (SARS-CoV).

There are no indications that municipal water systems are at risk of becoming sources of coronavirus spread, as long as they continue to practice disinfection (typically chlorination or UV-treatment). Private wells are also not likely to be at risk, assuming appropriate isolation from septic systems.

Below are links to some useful resources:

Association of Clean Water Administrators: COVID-19 resources (a comprehensive list of entities that provide information about COVID-19 and water, last updated 13 April 2020)

Global Water Research Coalition: COVID-19 virus: water, sanitation, and wastewater management (Factsheet, 10 March 2020)

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Water and COVID-19 (FAQs updated 3 April 2020)

World Health Organization: Water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for COVID-19 (Technical brief, 19 March 2020)