Today the world is turning to clean water to help stay safe from the coronavirus. Thoroughly washing hands with soap and water can prevent the spread of the invisible menace, for instance, and being hydrated is essential for keeping the immune system strong. Yet you may be wondering: Can the water coming into my home carry the virus? Fortunately, this is not likely.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus, “has not been detected in drinking-water supplies, and based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low.”
Public water systems are required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to treat water to remove or kill pathogens like viruses. The coronavirus is “a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection and standard treatment and disinfectant processes are expected to be effective,” the agency says on its website. It adds, “Americans can continue to use and drink water from their tap as usual.”
Likewise, homeowners who get their water from a private well should know the chances of catching viruses from that source are low. “We don’t typically find viruses in well water,” says Gary Falkengren, problem water specialist at Culligan International. “Generally, if a virus gets in a well, it’s an extreme situation, like flooding.” He’s been with Culligan for nearly three decades and has never run across well water that contains a virus.
Nonetheless, the EPA says homeowners with private wells who are concerned about viruses in their drinking water may consider approaches that remove them, such as “certified home treatment devices.” These options include ultraviolet light systems and chlorination, which are both highly effective methods offered by Culligan.
Falkengren adds private well owners should check the microbiological safety of their well water annually for the presence of coliform and E. coli bacteria. A list of certified testing laboratories is generally available from your county health department.
The EPA, meanwhile, also says concerned homeowners who receive water from a public utility can contact their provider to learn how the water is treated and to obtain a current water analysis.
One common disinfectant that public water systems use to kill microbiological contaminants before they reach homes is chlorine. Though it keeps water safe, chlorine can also produce an unpleasant taste or odor. If you’re bothered by chlorine, you have options to remove it after it’s done fighting germs.
You can use activated carbon filters in “point of entry” solutions to remove chlorine and chloramines taste and odor in all the water you use in your home—including for drinking, brushing your teeth, and showering.
If you’re interested in addressing chlorine solely in your drinking water, you can opt for a “point of use” activated carbon filter at the kitchen sink. Another alternative is reverse osmosis, which is a more thorough system that can remove additional impurities that keep water from tasting as good as it should and improve its overall quality.