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Coronavirus and Drinking Water and Wastewater

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 (DOCX)(2 pp, 31 K, April 3, 2020)  or Water Utility Template for Tribal Lands: COVID-19 Pandemic (DOCX)(2 pp, 30 K, April 23, 2020) .

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.

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