Coronavirus: supply and quality of drinking water guaranteed
Drinking water is very well protected against viruses
According to the water research institute KWR, drinking water is very well protected against all viruses, including the coronavirus. Coronaviruses are part of a family of viruses that do not thrive in water and are relatively easy to eliminate and deactivate.
Drinking water companies that process surface water into drinking water have all set up a multiple disinfection barrier aimed at removing bacteria, viruses and protozoa, all subject to the Microbiological Safety Analysis for Drinking Water. Groundwater is well protected in the soil against all microbiological contaminants, including viruses. The strict hygiene regulations for construction and road works also ensure that the drinking water sector is well protected against all microbiological contaminants.
The chance of drinking water being contaminated with the coronavirus is close to zero. Flu viruses are not spread via drinking water. These viruses are found in droplets of snot, mucus and saliva. They are spread by talking, coughing or sneezing, particularly in rooms where people are close together and in spaces with poor ventilation, such as trains, buses, schools and day-care centres. Viruses are also transmitted via the hands and objects, including doorknobs. People can get infected if they touch their mouth, nose or eyes after having touched a contaminated door knob, for example.
The water companies do not expect any problems with the supply and quality of drinking water as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19).
The continuity of the drinking water supply is a precondition for the proper functioning of our society. That is why water companies have a statutory duty to supply water. They are also obliged to prepare for all kinds of threats and dangers. One of these dangers is absenteeism as a result of a flu pandemic. All water companies have drawn up continuity plans specifically for a flu pandemic. These plans include measures to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as measures and actions to be taken if the virus actually leads to staff absenteeism. The national government’s advice is also carefully implemented.
Fully automated processes, the possibility of teleworking, the company’s own emergency power supply and stocks of auxiliary materials enable the water companies to guarantee the continuity of the drinking water supply in the event of a flu pandemic. As a result, there is no reason to purchase extra bottled water.
However, Vewin would like to stress that the cross-border supply of chemicals and other products (e.g. piping materials) used in drinking water production and distribution must be guaranteed in order to replenish stocks at the water companies and safeguard the continuity of the drinking water supply. The rapid and free movement of these goods within the EU is therefore of the utmost importance.
In principle, all infrastructural works on the drinking water supply system will be carried out Works required to guarantee the supply of drinking water are always carried out. In doing so, the guidelines issued by the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment are observed. Water cuts are kept to a minimum during all works and, where necessary, alternative drinking water is offered. Planned works requiring customer contact will be postponed as much as possible. Moreover, areas and locations with vulnerable groups will be avoided.
The drinking water sector supports the protocol ‘Samen veilig doorwerken’ (‘Let’s continue working together safely’) established by the national government and the construction and engineering sectors. The protocol provides guidelines on how to continue working safely, also when carrying out works on the drinking water infrastructure.
In case of unpaid water bills, the water companies will not automatically disconnect the drinking water supply. However, the payment obligation for all the water consumed remains in place. Any water supply that was disconnected due to non-payment will be reconnected upon request. However, existing payment obligations, collection and/or debt assistance procedures remain in force. If necessary, the supply will once again be disconnected after the Covid-19 measures launched by the central government have been lifted. For the time being, however, the water companies are being lenient with customers who have payment problems due to the coronavirus.
It is also important to note that the existing Covid-19 safety instructions are followed to guarantee the safety of the staff at the drinking water companies.