Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your water supply
We’ve created this page to inform our customers and community about coronavirus (COVID-19), in relation to drinking water and our position as a water utility.
This webpage has been adapted from information provided by the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) – the peak industry body representing the urban water sector – as well as the best available information from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, the Australian Government Department of Health, and the World Health Organisation.
We will update this page as new information becomes available. This page was last reviewed on 31 March 2020.
Can I catch coronavirus (COVID-19) from drinking water?
No, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted by drinking water. The current evidence is that the COVID-19 virus is most likely transmitted from person-to-person by:
- close contact with an infectious person
- contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
- touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.
Our drinking water is high quality and is well treated. There is no evidence that drinking water is affected by coronavirus.
Should I buy bottled water?
No, there is no need to buy bottled water for drinking. Safe, clean tap water will continue to be supplied.
How is Barwon Water protecting the drinking water supply?
Our water treatment and disinfection facilities are designed to remove or inactivate the most resistant pathogens from the water supply. Existing treatment process are expected to be highly effective to inactivate the COVID-19 virus.
We have stringent hygiene measures in place at water treatment plants and secondary disinfection facilities. We maintain a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) independently certified drinking water quality management system, covering the entire water supply system from catchment to taps.
Our water treatment plants are secure, have back up power, have a high level of automation and remote operation, and require few staff to operate.
We are well prepared for supply-chain impacts (the supply of chemical, parts and equipment) as a result of the wider industry response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are in contact with key government agencies to monitor and understand the health impact of COVID-19 as it develops.
If Barwon Water employees are isolated at home, will service be maintained?
Yes, water is an essential service and we are well prepared to manage our response to coronavirus (COVID-19).
We have enacted our existing emergency response plans and continue to update and adapt them.
The majority of our workforce are now working remotely with no disruption to essential water or sewerage services.
Can coronavirus (COVID-19) be transmitted by the sewerage system?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmissible via wastewater systems. Current disinfection methods at sewerage treatment plants are expected to be sufficient to inactivate the COVID-19 virus.
We will continue to treat sewage to the relevant guidelines and standards to protect public health and the environment. This includes best practices for protecting the occupational health of workers at treatment facilities.
Our sewerage treatment plants are secure, have back up power, have a high level of automation and remote operation, and require few staff to operate.
Help with your water bill
We understand that these are uncertain times financially. If you need to delay paying your bill for any reason, you can request a payment extension or set up a payment plan.
We also have a number of other customer support programs and can tailor an option to suit your needs. There are no additional costs to access any of these services.
Many of our reservoirs are open to the public and allow for reasonable distance between visitors in the open air.
While we continue to welcome you to our recreational areas for walking, fishing, bike riding and bird watching, all of our barbecue and picnic areas are temporarily closed until further notice.
Please put your health and the health of others first and follow social distancing guidelines (stay 1.5 metres away from others at all times when outdoors). If you’re feeling unwell, please stay home.
About drinking water quality in Australia
Australia’s drinking water is among the safest and most highly regulated in the world. Water utilities supply safe, high quality drinking water to cities and regions across Australia.
The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council provide rigorous guideline values for water utilities to follow.
- Victorian Department of Health and Human Services: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Australian Government Department of Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert, updated daily
- Australian Government Department of Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources, in English
- Australian Government Department of Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources, translated in other languages
- World Health Organisation: Coronavirus