Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Q & A
We understand this is a stressful time for our community and for the households we serve. We want our customers to know that we are here for them and are committed to taking all steps necessary to maintain safe, reliable water service.
Given the importance of hygiene and sanitation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are postponing water shutoffs until further notice. We are prepared to continue providing water service throughout this pandemic, with staffing plans and infrastructure in place to maintain water service around the clock to help keep families healthy, clean and hydrated.
Is Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) spread through water?
No; COVID-19 is not transmitted through the water supply. Presence of the virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies, and boiling your water is not required as a precaution against COVID-19. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that Americans continue to drink and use tap water as usual, such as for handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus (see more prevention tips below). For a statement from EPA on drinking water, click here.
Our pristine primary water source, Big Butte Springs, is disinfected for assurance, and our secondary source, the Rogue River, is disinfected in addition to further treatment (more information is available here). Staff tests approximately 1000 samples each month to ensure the water we supply exceeds standards for quality.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is spread mainly through person-to-person contact:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
- Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
The virus may also spread through contact with infected surfaces or objects (by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes), but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
If tap water is safe to use, then why is my grocery store sold out of bottled water?
As government officials implement restrictions on many businesses and encourage social distancing to help stop the spread of coronavirus, many people have started to stockpile items like toilet paper, shelf-stable food like rice and pasta, and bottled water, which may explain why your grocery store is sold out or running low on these products.
While a situation such as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) would not require a stockpile of water—you will still have access to safe, clean water from your tap---it is always advisable to have an emergency supply of water on hand.
After a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available due to contamination of a water source or damaged service lines. Water professionals will be working to restore water service, but they cannot reach everyone immediately, and it might take several days for help to reach you and your family.
When it comes to water, experts recommend that each person in the family have a water supply equal to one gallon per day for 14 days, due to the higher earthquake risk in our region and the possibility that water systems and infrastructure may be severely damaged. Your household needs may be even greater; be sure to think of each family member’s specific requirements (including pets). For a full list of recommended supplies, go to ready.gov/kit.
How can I avoid getting COVID-19?
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus by avoiding contact with people at-risk for contracting it, such as those in communities in some affected geographic areas with sustained ongoing illness transmission, or those who have traveled from such an area (click here for information on those areas).
However, as a reminder, CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Click here for cloth mask recommendations from CDC.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure*:
- Shortness of breath
Call your healthcare professional if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with sustained ongoing illness transmissions (click here for information on those areas).
Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new virus, but it is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
*The CDC has based this on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of similar viruses.
What will happen next?
COVID-19 is an emerging disease and there is more to learn about its transmissibility, severity, and other features and what will happen in the United States. We will provide updates to this page as they become necessary to keep our customers informed.
For now, we recommend planning for this just as you would any emergency: gather basic supplies to help you and your family be prepared to get by on your own for a period of time.
This means emergency essentials such as:
- Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least 14 days, for drinking and sanitation (Note that in our region, experts advise having enough water for your family for 14 days, rather than the recommended 3 gallons in other regions, due to the higher risk of earthquakes and potential for damage to infrastructure)
- Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery