EPA Issues Guidance Concerning Coronavirus and Drinking Water

by L. William Staudenmaier

The United Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued guidance (https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-drinking-water-and-wastewater#tapwater) regarding the status of public drinking water systems in light of the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus across the country.  In the guidance document, EPA states that “[b]ased on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low.  Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual.” (emphasis in EPA guidance).   The guidance describes EPA’s existing regulations that impose “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.”  The guidance then provides answers to questions such as “Is drinking tap water safe?”, “Do I need to boil my drinking water?”, and “Is tap water safe to use for hand washing?”.  The guidance further states that EPA is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies and providing “technical assistance and support as appropriate.”

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