COVID-19 and Your Water

COVID-19 and Your Water

By Water Street – April 20, 2020 – Comment

The coronavirus pandemic is creating the feeling of uncertainty globally. Who’s most affected by the virus? What does it mean to shelter in place? How much food do I need? Where can I find more toilet paper? When it comes to utilities like water, it’s no surprise that people have questions about the safety and reliability of their service, especially as they may be spending more time at home practicing social distancing.

Here are some frequently asked questions related to coronavirus, your water service and what American Water is doing so that customers continue to have access to clean, safe, reliable and affordable water.

Is my tap water safe to drink during this time?

Yes – According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), the risk to water supplies is low based on current evidence.  The U.S. EPA has also relayed that Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual.

American Water and other members of the National Association of Water Companies remain committed to the delivery of safe, reliable water. That includes continued operation of drinking water treatment barriers, which provide an added layer of protection that includes filtration and disinfection of our surface water supplies (e.g., those from lakes, reservoirs or rivers) and disinfection of our groundwater sources (e.g., underground wells). While COVID-19 has not been found in drinking water, these treatments are effective in removing and/or inactivating viruses.

If tap water is safe to use, then why is my grocery store sold out of bottled water?

While other items like food and medicines are important to stock up on, there’s no need to stock up on bottled water due to concerns over coronavirus in treated drinking water because as stated by the U.S. EPA, tap water is safe to use for drinking, cooking and maintaining personal hygiene.

As government officials implement restrictions on many businesses and encourage social distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus, many people have started to stockpile items like toilet paper, shelf-stable food like rice and pasta, and bottled water, which may explain why your grocery store is sold out or running low on these products.

What is American Water doing to help stop the spread of coronavirus?

American Water has activated business continuity plans to strengthen the ability to provide reliable, high-quality service to our customers, continue to deliver water and wastewater services that meets all federal and state drinking water standards and protect our employees and customers during this public health emergency.

You may see our employees and crews performing work. For your safety and the safety of our employees, we ask that you do not approach our employees. We request that you follow social distancing recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We’re continuing to monitor updates from the CDC, the U.S. EPA and the WHO, as well as other state and federal agencies. Based on the latest developments, we are continuously evaluating the situation to determine how we may adapt as necessary to support our customers and the communities we serve. 

Will my water service be shut off?

While every utility across the nation makes their own decisions about shutting off service, American Water has discontinued shutoffs at this time, especially considering the importance of personal hygiene in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. We’ll continue to monitor state orders regarding water shutoff suspensions; and, while some may experience temporary interruptions to service because of planned and unplanned work in your area, we strive to keep interruptions to a minimum.

We’re also turning water service back on for residential customers who were previously shut off for non-payment. This includes residential customers whose water service was turned off for non-payment of sewer service, even if American Water is not the sewer service provider.

Is American Water doing anything else to help those who have been financially impacted by coronavirus? 

Giving back to the communities we serve is part of the culture at American Water and we’re pleased to join forces and stand beside others who are doing their part to care for one another.

American Water contributed $500,000 to the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF), to support coronavirus relief efforts. AWCF, the charitable arm of American Water, will disburse the funds directly to several critical COVID-19 specific initiatives, including the American Water Employee Crisis Fund and a new community-focused COVID-19 Response Fund.

American Water and the AWCF also announced a $100,000 contribution to Feeding America, which will support food banks across the country. The Foundation will also match employee donations to Feeding America, or other eligible organizations, up to $1,000 per employee, in accordance with its matching gift guidelines.

American Water is continuing to monitor the current status and has business continuity plans in place. For more information and updates on coronavirus in the meantime, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. EPA and World Health Organization.