March 30, 2020 Health

Information resources on water and COVID-19

The COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has raised many questions for the water supply and wastewater sector around the world. This includes the public seeking reassurance about potential concerns. The organisations who provide water and wastewater services have to respond to this and cope with the direct impact of the pandemic on their workforces. Attention to the crucial contribution of handwashing in preventing the spread of the disease is highlighting the importance of access to water supply, sanitation and hygiene. The list goes on.

Information is key. Here we provide links to some of the leading and most respected sources to help support understanding and discussion at this crucial time. They feature resources generated through the IWA network, including the activities of the IWA COVID-19 Task Force.

Among the sources, the World Health Organization is a primary reference point. Its guidance summarises current thinking. Importantly, this includes thinking built on the substantial relevant understanding of coronaviruses, including that gained regarding the SARS outbreak of 2003. Further information is provided by organisations such as national health agencies and research organisations.

The activities of water supply and wastewater service providers are already directed at protecting public health, especially from pathogens. COVID-19 is nonetheless a new disease. We will aim to support discussion on issues requiring attention, especially the evolving science.

Alongside this, water supply and wastewater operators provide an essential service. The information sources cover the need to protect and prioritise this workforce in times of need, as well as the safety of staff in their work environment.

For more information on the IWA COVID-19 Task Force see here



IWA COVID-19 Task Force Utility Guidelines


IWA COVID-19 Task Force Case Studies


IWA COVID-19 Task Force topic review


 IWA Online Panel Expert Discussions


The Source magazine

 IWA Publishing



World Health Organization

Water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – Interim Guidance, 29 July 2020

World Health Organization

Scientific brief on the status of environmental surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 virus – Scientific brief, 5 August 2020

World Health Organization

Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19 – Interim Guidance, 23 April 2020

South African Water Research Commission – Fact Sheet: Water quality, sanitation and hygiene management in light of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Germany’s public Coronavirus resource – Basic information on the coronavirus, including statements on water

Water Services Association of Australia – COVID-19 Fact Sheet

Water Services Association of Australia – Fact sheet: COVID-19 and wastewater

US Department of Homeland Security – Science and Technology Directorate – Master Question List for COVID-19 (Caused by SARS-CoV-2) Updated weekly

Global Water Research Coalition – Fact sheet: The COVID-19 Virus – “Water, Sanitation and Wastewater Management”

KWR – Q&A on COVID-19 Sewage Surveillance



American Water Works Association – COVID-19 response: water sector preparation, vigilance crucial

American Water Works Association – Report: The Financial Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on U.S. Drinking Water Utilities

Canadian Water & Wastewater Association – Links and resources, including CWWA Water Sector Pandemic Action Plan

Water Environment Federation – The Water Professional’s Guide to COVID-19

United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration

COVID-19 Control and Prevention, including interim guidance for solid waste and wastewater management workers and employers

US Environmental Protection Agency – Water Utility Resources for the COVID-19 Pandemic – USA

US Environmental Protection Agency – Incident Action Checklists for Water Utilities, including Pandemic Incident Action Checklist – USA

Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance – What Water and Sanitation Operators Can do in the Fight Against COVID-19.



Isle Utilities – Global utility COVID-19 resources, including recorded webinars

US Environmental Protection Agency – Frequent Questions about Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Water transmission and COVID-19

UN-Water resources

Water Research Commission – South Africa

How sewage could reveal the true scale of coronavirus outbreak

KPMG – Perspectives from US utilities on potential COVID-19 impacts

Sanitation and Water for All – Resources on COVID-19 and WASH

KWR report 2020.074, July 2020 – Guiding principles for effective communication during a public health crisis NEW



Gina Pocock, Leanne Coetzee, Janet Mans, Maureen Taylor and Bettina Genthe Proof of concept study: Application of wastewater-based surveillance to monitor SARS-CoV-2 prevalence in South African communities WRC Report no. TT 832/20 NEW


Samendra P Sherchan, Shalina Shahin, Lauren M Ward, Sarmila Tandukar, Tiong G Aw, Bradley Schmitz, Warish Ahmed, Masaaki Kitajima First detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater in North America: A study in Louisiana, USA Science of the Total Environment (2020) (available online 30 June 2020)

Y Wu, C Guo, L Tang, Z Hong, J Zhou, X Dong, H Yin, Q Xiao, X Qu, L Kuang, X Fang, N Mishra, J Lu, H Shah, G Jiang, X Huang Prolonged presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in faecal samples Lancet Gastroenterol. Hepatol., 5 (5) (2020), pp. 434-435 (published March 20, 2020)

G Medema, L Heijnen, G Elsinga, R Italiaander, A Brouwer Presence of SARS-Coronavirus-2 in sewage MedRxiv, (2020) 2020.03.29.20045880 (published March 30, 2020)

F Wu, A Xiao, J Zhang, X Gu, WL Lee, K Kauffman, W Hanage, M Matus, N Ghaeli, N Endo, C Duvallet, K Moniz, T Erickson, P Chai, J Thompson, E Alm SARS-CoV-2 titers in wastewater are higher than expected from clinically confirmed cases MedRxiv (2020) 2020.04.05.20051540 (published April 7, 2020)

W Ahmed, N Angel, J Edson, K Bibby, A Bivins, JW O’Brien, PM Choi, M Kitajima, SL Simpson, J Li, B Tscharke, R Verhagen, WJM Smith, J Zaugg, L Dierens, P Hugenholtz, KV Thomas, JF Mueller First confirmed detection of SARS-CoV-2 in untreated wastewater in Australia: A proof of concept for the wastewater surveillance of COVID-19 in the community Sci. Total Environ (2020) 138764 (published April 14/18, 2020)

A Nemudryi, A Nemudraia, K Surya, T Wiegand, M Buyukyoruk, R Wilkinson, B Wiedenheft Temporal detection and phylogenetic assessment of SARS-CoV-2 in municipal wastewater MedRxiv (2020) 2020.04.15.20066746 (published April 20, 2020)

W Randazzo, P Truchado, EC Ferrando, P Simon, A Allende, G Sanchez SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater anticipated COVID-19 occurrence in a low prevalence area Water Research (2020) 181 (available online 16 May 2020)

S Wurtzer, V Marechal, J-M Mouchel, L Moulin Time course quantitative detection of SARS- CoV-2 in Parisian wastewaters correlates with COVID-19 confirmed cases MedRxiv (2020) 2020.04.12.20062679 (published May 6, 2020)

BA Kocamemi, H Kurt, S Hacioglu, C Yarali, AM Saatci, B Pakdemirli 2020 First Data-Set on SARS-CoV-2 Detection for Istanbul Wastewaters in Turkey MedRxiv (2020) 2020.05.03.20089417 (published May 6, 2020)



IWA Publishing COVID-19 related resources

S Matsui. Water Science & Technology Protecting human and ecological health under viral threats in Asia

Innocent K Tumwebaze; Joan B Rose; Nynke Hofstra; Matthew E Verbyla; Isaac Musaazi; Daniel A Okaali; Rose C Kaggwa; Irene Nansubuga; Heather M Murphy. Journal of Water & Health Translating pathogen knowledge to practice for sanitation decision-making

S R Peterson; N J Ashbolt. Water Science & Technology Viral risks associated with wastewater reuse: modeling virus persistence on wastewater irrigated salad crops

Jelena Vujcic; Pavani K Ram; Lauren S Blum. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for DevelopmentHandwashing promotion in humanitarian emergencies: strategies and challenges according to experts

Lidia Morawska, Donald K Milton It is time to address airborne transmission of COVID-19



Caitlin R. Proctor, William Rhoads, Tim Keane, Maryam Salehi, Kerry Hamilton, Kelsey J. Pieper, David R. Cwiertny, Michele Prévost, Andrew J. Whelton Considerations for Large Building Water Quality after Extended Stagnation NEW


Last updated: 18 January 2021


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