With all the sacrifices Vermonters are making to keep themselves and others healthy during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is taking extra steps to ensure that no one has to wonder if their water is safe to drink, according to an April 10 news release.
DEC is working with drinking water system operators, providing guidance and support for disinfection procedures to keep drinking water safe and free of pathogens. Covid-19 is not transmitted through drinking water, however, it is important to make sure drinking water is free of other pathogens that can cause illness.
“For people who have or are at risk for Covid-19, it’s important to make sure their immune systems are not further compromised due to other pathogens that may be present in drinking water,” said DEC Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division Assistant Director Ellen Parr Doering. “Vermont’s public drinking water systems are designed to deliver safe drinking water. Especially during times of crisis like the pandemic, we are doing everything we can to protect the public health. Disinfecting systems will safeguard drinking water. These are extra steps we are taking. Residents can and should continue to use and drink water from the tap as usual.”
The department requires all community and public water systems to disinfect their water. Disinfecting, rather than more frequent testing, provides another layer of protection for Vermonters in case essential water system operators become ill, a concern when many water systems in Vermont only have a single operator.
Water is disinfected through a process called chlorination where chlorine is added to the water in low doses to kill pathogens that can affect human health. This process can also occur using ultraviolet disinfection. There is no additional testing at the tap required as a result of disinfection.
For private wells, no extra precautions are advised in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Health Department recommends bacteria testing once a year. For instructions on how to test your well, go to healthvermont.gov/environment/drinking-water.
The requirement for public water systems to provide continuous disinfection will stand until the end of the governor’s emergency declaration. Currently that is anticipated to be May 15, 2020, however, it may be extended as necessary. Drinking water operations are an essential function during this declared state of emergency, and water system operators continue to do all the required testing to ensure public water remains safe.