“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
– Anthony J. D’Angelo
Editor’s Note, March 2020
Experts around the globe unanimously agree that the drinking water is not a source of the novel coronavirus causing the global COVID-19 pandemic.
To begin with, the Corona virus 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.
As per EPA (Environmental Protection Agency in USA), the COVID-19 virus has not been found in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is very low. We may continue to use and drink water from our regular water supply as usual.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in USA has also shared some guidelines for the public as well as workers in water/ wastewater sector…
The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in “drinking water”. Conventional water treatment systems and methods that use filtration and disinfection should remove or inactivate the COVID-19 causing virus.
The COVID-19 virus has been detected though, in the feces of few patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The amount of virus released from the body (shed) in stool, how long the virus is shed, and whether the virus in stool is infectious are not known yet.
The risk of transmission of COVID-19 from the “feces” of an infected person is also currently unknown. However, the risk is expected to be “low” based on data from previous outbreaks of related corona viruses, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Regarding sewerage systems, the CDC says that it is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available. As of now the risk of its transmission through sewerage systems is thought to be low. Although it may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred. They will keep updating the guidance.
The available data suggest that standard “chlorination practices” in municipal wastewater system may be sufficient to inactivate corona virus, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted.
As per CDC, each Wastewater Treatment Plant Management should ensure that their workers follow routine practices to prevent exposure to wastewater. These include using engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE normally required for work tasks when handling untreated wastewater.
Availability of water is also critical during a situation like lockdown. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has prescribed and repeatedly stressed to wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap under running water. Our central and regional governments, media, sports persons and celebrities – all of them are promoting this message.
While this is a basic yet very significant protective measure against COVID19, unfortunately, various neighborhoods in a developing country like India do not have the availability of natural water resource or a regular supply of water. A number of metro cities, small towns and villages face water quantity and quality problems throughout the year because of rapid population growth, old & decaying infrastructure, and shortfall of water treatment chemicals, etc. Promotion and implementation of best practices of “community water projects” can be a big support in managing such situations in the short-term as well as long-term. Our cover story section this month is focused on such successful community water projects.
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