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Is public drinking water at risk from the COVID-19 virus?

water-glass-crEnid Martindale-viaCC-Flickr

Photo by Enid Martindale, CC
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In this series of posts, Riverkeeper compiles the available information – and unanswered questions – on the possible risks the COVID-19 virus may pose via sewage-contaminated water.

Photo by Enid Martindale, CC

Photo by Enid Martindale, CC

New York is at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s urgent that we stay focused on preventing transmission through the known routes – interpersonal contact and contact with surfaces contaminated with the COVID-19 virus.

At the same time, Riverkeeper is actively studying the available information on the risks the COVID-19 virus may pose to individuals or communities via sewage-contaminated water. Riverkeeper recognizes that our organization is not expert in epidemiology or infectious diseases. Click the links below to explore this topic further.

Q. Is public drinking water at risk from the COVID-19 virus?

A. Public water supplies, which reliably disinfect source waters as part of the treatment process, should not be at risk from the COVID-19 virus.

Those who drink water from public water systems should be reassured that disinfection of drinking water is a basic and consistent function of drinking water treatment required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. This includes waters like the Hudson River that both receive discharges of both treated and untreated sewage, and serve as sources of drinking water. Riverkeeper’s data from the near the drinking water intakes for Poughkeepsie and Port Ewen, for instance, show consistently low or non-detectable concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria, indicating that the source water is relatively free of contamination even before it enters drinking water treatment plants. Disinfection is a fundamental and consistent part of treatment at Hudson River and all other public drinking water treatment plants.


Is COVID-19 virus present in water?

Is recreation along the Hudson still safe? Assessing the risk from the COVID-19 virus

Will Riverkeeper gather water quality data during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Can better water infrastructure help protect public health amid virus outbreaks?

Can disinfection in sewage treatment help protect against COVID-19 risks?

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