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COVID-19 and Home Water Use

Updated April 21, 2020
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John McMaine

Assistant Professor, SDSU Extension Water Management Engineer

A glass of water being filled from a kitchen sink tap.

Very low risk of transmission of COVID-19 causing virus in drinking water.

There have been questions regarding spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 through drinking water. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been no detection of the virus in drinking water. Treated water distributed by municipal or rural water systems goes through filtration and disinfection processes which should remove or inactivate the virus.

Very low risk of transmission of COVID-19 causing virus in fecal matter.

From a wastewater contamination perspective, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 via feces of an infected person is very low. While the definite risk of transmission in this manner is currently unknown, there have been no confirmed transmission of the virus in this manner and previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses had low risk of this.

Only flush toilet paper.

At various points during the novel coronavirus pandemic, toilet paper has been scarce, so non-toilet paper alternatives have been used. Unfortunately, if anything other than toilet paper; paper towels, shop towels, wet wipes (even those that say “flushable”), is flushed into the sewer system or septic system, it does not break down as readily as toilet paper and is likely to cause issues in the system. There have been documented cases of sewerage pumps being broken and clogging in South Dakota because of non-toilet paper being introduced to the sewer system. If something other than toilet paper is used, this should be disposed of in a sanitary manner in the trash and not flushed down the toilet.

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Health, Food Safety, Nutrition