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.
Help with your water bill
We understand that these are uncertain times financially, but we’re here to help.
We have a number of customer support programs, and can tailor an option to suit your individual needs. There are no additional costs to access any of these services.
We understand some business customers may also be financially impacted by coronavirus. If you run a business, we also have options that can help to alleviate immediate bill pressures.
Our contact centre is quick, confidential, and easy to deal with. We will put you in touch with a specialist who will deal with your enquiry promptly and sensitively.
We’ve also extended our hours of operation from 8 am – 6 pm, Monday to Friday, to provide you with even more support and flexibility.
Can I catch coronavirus from drinking water?
No, there is no evidence that coronavirus is transmitted by drinking water. The current evidence is that the 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 coronavirus.
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 coronavirus pandemic.
We are in contact with key government agencies to monitor and understand the health impact of coronavirus 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.
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 be transmitted by the sewerage system?
There is no evidence that coronavirus is transmissible via wastewater systems. Current disinfection methods at sewerage treatment plants are expected to be sufficient to inactivate the 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.
Our employees and contractors are taking the necessary steps to slow the spread of coronavirus, including physical distancing, good hygiene, face coverings and personal protective equipment.
To safeguard our community, please maintain a 1.5 metre distance from employees and contractors.
If a member of our staff (Barwon Water or Barwon Asset Solutions) or a licensed contractor knocks on your door, as part of essential maintenance or repair work, please be assured of our commitment to health and safety.
Our recreational areas (Wurdee Boluc, Bostock and Upper Stony Creek reservoirs, and Bolwarra Weir) will be closed to the public from Thursday 6 August 2020. West Barwon and Painkalac reservoir will remain open for exercise and recreational activities for local residents only. The picnic and barbecues facilities at all sites will be closed.
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
COVID Safe Plan
In accordance with Victorian Government recommendations, we have adopted a COVID Safe Plan. The plan sets out:
- how we keep records of employees, contactors and visitors to our sites
- control measures to mitigate the introduction of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our workplace, including details about personal protective equipment
- protocols for preparing for, and responding to, suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus in our workplace.
This plan is for all worksites under the control of Barwon Water and subsidiary company Barwon Asset Solutions. It will be continually reviewed and updated as required.