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COVID-19 and Wastewater Safety and Health Resources

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*Due to the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic, below is a sample of resources from federal agencies and organizations involved in the MOU partnership. 

Coronavirus and Drinking Water and Wastewater

Webpage from EPA

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 also encourages the public to help keep household plumbing and our nation’s water infrastructure operating properly by only flushing toilet paper. Disinfecting wipes and other items should be disposed of in the trash, not the toilet.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to Governors in all 50 states, territories, tribes and Washington, DC, requesting that water and wastewater workers, as well as the manufacturers and suppliers who provide vital services and materials to the water sector, are considered essential workers and businesses by state authorities when enacting restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. Our critical water infrastructure and its operators ensure the safe supply of water to our homes and hospitals, and depend on treatment chemicals, laboratory supplies and related goods and materials. Read letters to local leaders from Administrator Wheeler about the importance of water and wastewater services.

The Agency has provided a template that states, tribes, localities, water utilities and technical assistance providers can use to provide documentation to workers that are considered essential: Water Utility Template: COVID-19 Pandemic or Water Utility Template for Tribal Lands: COVID-19 Pandemic.

EPA also supports states and cities that have already taken proactive measures to ensure continued access to clean water for drinking and handwashing during the COVID- 19 pandemic. Many drinking water systems are discontinuing service cut-offs, restoring service to customers whose service was previously cut-off, and refraining from imposing penalties for nonpayment. EPA recommends widespread adoption of these practices, which provide critical support for public health.

Additional Information

Information for Sanitation and Wastewater Workers on COVID-19

Webpage information from CDC

Recently, the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in untreated wastewater. While data are limited, there is no information to date that anyone has become sick with COVID-19 because of exposure to wastewater.

Standard practices associated with wastewater treatment plant operations should be sufficient to protect wastewater workers from the virus that causes COVID-19. These standard practices can include engineering and administrative controls, hygiene precautions, specific safe work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) normally required when handling untreated wastewater. No additional COVID-19–specific protections are recommended for workers involved in wastewater management, including those at wastewater treatment facilities.

More Information

NOWRA, Onsite Wastewater and the Coronavirus Outbreak

 Webpage information from NOWRA

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to escalate around the world and the US, NOWRA is providing up-to-date information to help you address the many ways this pandemic is affecting you and your organization. Please know that the safety of our members and the entire onsite wastewater community is our primary concern, but we also want to provide you with resources which will help you continue your business.

More Information

PSA on Flushable Wipes During COVID-19

PSA from Sara Heger, NOWRA

NPR’s Here & Now host Jeremy Hobson talks to Sara Heger, a wastewater expert at the University of Minnesota, about one side-effect of the rise in household cleaning as a result of the coronavirus: More people are clogging wastewater treatment systems with erroneously labeled “flushable” wipes.

COVID-19 Guidance and Resources

Webpage information from WRF

With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading worldwide, The Water Research Foundation has been dedicated to keeping water sector professionals informed about this virus and any measures needed to protect both water sector workers and public health. WRF continues to gather key information from experts in the fields of infectious disease control, virology, water engineering, outbreak epidemiology, pandemic trends, and risk emergency response, and provide deliverables and learning opportunities to disseminate the latest information.

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