The Water Research Foundation recently held a webcast on the coronavirus pandemic, covering the basics of the disease, transmission, disinfection, and effective utility response. We’ve summarized the key points for water agencies. Watch the webcast for the full presentation:

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause anything from a cold to severe respiratory syndrome. The recent outbreak of that started sweeping the globe in 2019 is called novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. The virus itself is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Are current water and wastewater disinfection methods effective against COVID-19?

Yes. According to industry experts, the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Water Environment Federation (WEF), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. EPA, there is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 survives disinfection processes for drinking water and wastewater.

What can utilities do?

A pandemic of this magnitude is unprecedented, but water agencies are prepared to keep their communities safe. Here’s what utilities across the country are doing:


  • Following AWWA, WEF, and OSHA guidance for worker protection and keep key infrastructure and systems up and running.
  • Reviewing and planning for staffing and supply impacts.
  • Communicating and collaborating with the community. Sharing with them that:
    • Tap water is safe.
    • “Flushable wipes” aren’t really flushable. They cause blockages, which can lead to sewer overflows.