COVID-19 Q&A for Water and Wastewater
NOTE: The scientific community’s understanding of COVID-19 has been changing rapidly and will continue to do so. The Maine CDC Drinking Water Program will attempt to stay current with new information as it comes in.
Question 1: Can COVID-19 be spread through drinking water?
Answer: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water and at this time there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through drinking water systems. If COVID-19 were present in the water, regular water treatment methods using filtration and disinfection should remove or inactivate the virus.
Question 2: Is COVID-19 spreading through sewage systems?
Answer: According to the CDC, at this time the risk of transmission through sewage systems is thought to be low.
Question 3: Do waste management companies need any additional protection when handling untreated waste from a COVID-19 positive patient?
Answer: As a precaution, wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices that include basic hygiene precautions and use personal protective equipment as currently prescribed for work tasks.
Question 4: What can I do to help reduce the possible spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses?
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands;
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or by coughing or sneezing into your upper sleeve, not your hands; and
- Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with others.
Question 5: Is a private well safe from COVID-19 contamination?
Answer: EPA expects a properly managed septic system to treat COVID-19 the same way it safely manages other viruses often found in wastewater. Additionally, when properly installed, a septic system is located at a distance and location designed to avoid impacting a water supply well.
If in doubt regarding the functionality of your septic system, test water from your well for bacteria at a water quality testing laboratory. A positive result for bacteria may indicate contamination. Please contact Haig Brochu of the Maine CDC Drinking Water Program at (207) 592-3190 for private well questions.