The Clean Water Blog

crumpled plastic water bottle / photo: flickr.com/jesse (CC BY 2.0)

The COVID-19 Crisis and Our Water: Part 1

What's with all the bottled water?

As people stocked up on food and essential items for their time at home to help slow the spread of the COVID-19, I saw shopping carts full of bottled water.  Television shots and videos on social media of shoppers often showed the same thing. It seems that over the last two decades, our preparation for natural disasters started to include bottled water -- and a lot of it..  There is reason to prepare for disruption in water service in a hurricane. What about during a pandemic? 

We’re diving into this question and other drinking water, wastewater, and water quality topics as part of a new blog series.  

What can we tell you right now?  

Public health agencies in the United States are universal in their recommendation that tap water served by regulated Public Water Systems can be used as normal. COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water and is not a waterborne disease.  You can see information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) here and from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) here

For most people, stocking up on bottled water and/or replacing your use of your tap water for drinking, cooking, and other uses is going to cost you a lot of money (as much as 6,000 times more than your tap water per gallon!) and is not necessary.  The unknowns about leakage of chemicals of concern from plastic water bottles combined with the enormous solid waste problem created by bottled water suggest that we are not doing ourselves or the environment any good by rushing to use bottled water right now. 

What do our drinking water systems do to make sure they can treat and distribute drinking water as usual and comply with health-based standards? Are there issues we should be concerned about in terms of our drinking water and wastewater systems? Are there plans in place to prevent problems? We will look into these and other questions in our series, as well as more on our plea to everyone to never ever flush any wipe down the toilet regardless of its labeling!

We look forward to exploring with you what we can do to make sure critical drinking water and wastewater operations continue effectively and safely.