Woman lab technician testing water
Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Drinking Water Remains Safe 03/16/2020

EWEB's top priority in all emergency situations is to protect public and employee health and safety while focusing on business continuity in order to deliver the essential services our customers depend upon. The coronavirus pandemic spreading across Oregon and the country is no exception.

EWEB has a Pandemic Planning Group that has been working on strategies to maintain our levels of water and electric service through this crisis. We are actively planning to maintain a critical level of service should this pandemic hit our workforce. We have many resources available to us to ensure our ability to provide service to our customers, including a vast network of mutual aid from other utilities. We will do all we possibly can to ensure this pandemic is not made worse by any service interruptions.  

There have been questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the interface with drinking water. EWEB's existing drinking water treatment protocols inactivate waterborne pathogens, including viruses, which prevents them from contaminating drinking water.  EWEB's drinking water meets or exceeds all drinking water standards, including 4-log (99.99%) inactivation of viruses as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.   The EPA has stated that coronavirus risk in treated drinking water supplies is low. Below is some information released by the EPA on March 12, 2020, including some FAQs.  

What the EPA says about coronavirus and drinking water

There is no higher priority for EPA than protecting the health and safety of Americans. EPA is providing this important information about COVID-19 as it relates to drinking water and wastewater to provide clarity to the public. The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual.

EPA has established regulations with treatment requirements for public water systems that prevent waterborne pathogens such as viruses from contaminating drinking water and wastewater. Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, is a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection and standard treatment and disinfectant processes are expected to be effective. EPA is coordinating with our federal partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and will continue to provide technical assistance and support, as appropriate.

FAQS

Is drinking tap water safe? 

EPA recommends that Americans continue to use and drink tap water as usual. The World Health Organization has stated that the, "presence of the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low."1 Additionally, according to the CDC, COVID-19 is mainly thought to spread between people who are in close contact with one another. Read more from the CDC about transmission of COVID-19. Further, EPA's drinking water regulations require treatment at public water systems to remove or kill pathogens, including viruses.

Do I need to boil my drinking water?

Boiling your water is not required as a precaution against COVID-19.

Is tap water safe to use for hand washing?

EPA recommends that Americans continue to use and drink tap water as usual. According to the CDC, washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Read CDC's handwashing guidance

What should I do if I'm concerned about my drinking water?

WHO has stated that the, "presence of the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low." Homeowners that receive their water from a public water utility may contact their provider to learn more about treatments being used. Treatments could include filtration and disinfectants such as chlorine that remove or kill pathogens before they reach the tap.  Homeowners with private wells who are concerned about pathogens such as viruses in drinking water may consider approaches that remove bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, including certified home treatment devices.

Do I need to buy bottled water or store drinking water?

EPA recommends that citizens continue to use and drink tap water as usual. At this time, there are no indications that COVID-19 is in the drinking water supply or will affect the reliable supply of water.

What is EPA's role in ensuring drinking water remains safe?

EPA has established regulations with treatment requirements for public water systems that prevent waterborne pathogens such as viruses from contaminating drinking water. These treatment requirements include filtration and disinfectants such as chlorine that remove or kill pathogens before they reach the tap. Additionally, WHO notes that, "conventional, centralized water treatment methods which utilize filtration and disinfection should inactivate COVID-19 virus." EPA will also continue to coordinate with our federal partners, including the CDC, and will continue to provide technical assistance and support to states, as appropriate.

Can I get COVID-19 from wastewater or sewage?

WHO has indicated that "there is no evidence to date that COVID-19 virus has been transmitted via sewerage systems, with or without wastewater treatment."

Do wastewater treatment plants treat COVID-19?

Yes, wastewater treatment plants treat viruses and other pathogens. COVID-19 is a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection. Standard treatment and disinfectant processes at wastewater treatment plants are expected to be effective.