COVID-19 Resources for Water/Wastewater Utilities

 
This webpage contains multiple resources to help guide water professionals on how to respond to different situations during the COVID pandemic. Please contact us immediately if your utility experiences operational difficulties.
 
Can COVID-19 Spread in Drinking Water, Wastewater, or Reclaimed Water? 

Drinking Water
The World Health Organization states that the “presence of the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low.” EPA’s drinking water regulations require treatment at public water systems to remove or kill pathogens including viruses. 

Wastewater
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “at this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems is thought to be low. Although transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewage may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred.” CDC will update this guidance as new evidence is assessed. The CDC also say “coronaviruses are susceptible to the same disinfection conditions in community and healthcare settings as other viruses, so current disinfection conditions in wastewater treatment facilities are expected to be sufficient.”  This means that it is important to keep up with routine maintenance, especially when it includes disinfection. You can find the CDC’s page on COVID-19 and municipal water here.

Reclaimed Water
Reclaimed water, also called recycled water, is wastewater that is treated to a certain level to be reused for other purposes safely. For example, cities and counties may use reclaimed water to irrigate landscapes. Currently there are no single-family residential homeowners that irrigate their landscapes with reclaimed water. Businesses, apartments, parks and golf courses that use reclaimed water are required to have a sign notifying the public. 
 
The risk of getting exposed to COVID-19 through reclaimed water is low. Treated municipal wastewater, the source of reclaimed water, is disinfected and has been proven to inactivate other viruses — viruses that are more resistant to disinfection methods than coronaviruses. To learn more, check out the division’s “Information on COVID-19 and Treated Wastewater and Reclaimed Water” document.
 
 
Water/Wastewater Services are Essential
The state considers water and wastewater as "essential critical infrastructure workers" during the COVID-19 response. This means that water and wastewater systems have a special responsibility to continue normal operations as modified to account for CDC workforce and customer protection guidance.  For more information on the definition of essential critical infrastructure workers, visit the state's COVID-19 webpage.
 
 
Frequently Asked Question and Answers

 

Important Information for Re-opening Businesses 
As Colorado re-opens offices and other buildings, we encourage building owners and management companies to flush their drinking water pipes. When buildings are mostly vacant for extended time periods, there can be a decline in water quality. 

Both the Colorado Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and Denver Water shared guidance to help customers and members. 

More technical information on how to address challenges with unoccupied buildings and larger unoccupied areas can be found on CDC’s or AWWA's websites. 

 
 
Connect with the Division 
Ask questions
New information is being generated very quickly about COVID-19 and we want to make sure all your questions are answered. 

If you don’t see your question answered on this webpage or in the FAQ, please email us at cdphe.commentswqcd@state.co.us
 
 
Sign up for notifications
We also send out regular updates to impacted stakeholders. A list of all our email list-serves for select topics can be found on our stakeholder webpage. By signing up for these notifications, you will receive emails about policy changes, rule making changes, and other important information. See an archive of sent emails we've emailed so far. 

Some stakeholders groups who have received COVID-19 information so far include:
 
 
Division’s COVID-19 Action Plan
The Water Quality Control Division is committed to keeping regulated water and wastewater entities and stakeholders informed about this pandemic. Since the onset of COVID-19 in Colorado, the division has pushed forward different platforms to share information, guidance documents and other tools to help entities navigate these challenging times. Our action plan lists these different activities. Should you have any questions or ideas for us to consider, please email cdphe.commentswqcd@state.co.us
 
 
Chemical Supply and PPE Needs Survey Summary

Earlier this month, the Water Quality Control Division surveyed drinking water suppliers and sewage treatment systems to evaluate potential chemical supply and personal protective equipment shortages. Thank you to those who responded! Below is a brief summary of the results. 

We continue to evaluate resource needs and identify opportunities where those resource needs can be met. Some resources can be found in the Continuity of Operations Toolbox for Water/Wastewater Utilities below. 

 

Survey Response Summary

  • 364 facilities responded and all respondents were able to procure critical chemical supplies. 
  • Bleach was the chemical many utilities had challenges getting. While no one is without bleach, facilities are running into challenges such as low supply at local retailers, retailers limiting purchases to one container per visit, and higher prices. 
  • For all other chemicals, respondents have been able to work directly with suppliers and address issues that arise.  
  • 13% responded that they are concerned about chemical supplies in the future.
  • Approximately 50% of systems need masks, disposable gloves, thermometers, and surface sanitizer.

 

Continuity of Operations Toolbox for Water/Wastewater Utilities
Below are a number of resources and tools to help guide water professionals on how to ensure continuity of operations during the COVID pandemic. These resources are based off of EPA’s Pandemic Incident Action Checklist. New tools will periodically be added to this webpage, so please visit this webpage again. Please contact us immediately if your utility experiences operational difficulties