The COVID-19 virus is not transmitted via drinking water. According to the World Health Organization, the treatments used in drinking water production facilities are able to render the virus that causes COVID-19 inactive. When drinking water comes from a groundwater source and is distributed without prior disinfection, the water source construction and protection measures that are already required prevent all viruses from contaminating the water.

The production and distribution of drinking water are essential services and must be maintained despite the pandemic. Regulatory water treatment requirements, operator competence, and the monitoring of microbiological and chemical water quality continue to apply. However, the MELCC has adjusted its expectations in situations where COVID-19 affects personnel involved in drinking water production and distribution. Consequently, those responsible for drinking water distribution systems must ensure the public’s health and safety through the following measures:

  • Maintaining water distribution;
  • Having competent personnel on hand;
  • Monitoring the microbiological quality of the drinking water distributed.

Maintaining water distribution

The water distributed must be safe to drink in order to continue to supply the population and ensure that the hygiene measures recommended by public health authorities are maintained (e.g., handwashing). Water distribution also makes it possible to discharge wastewater and respond in the event of a fire.

Having competent personnel on hand

Those responsible for drinking water distribution systems must make sure that they have competent operators to run the system, particularly in situations where regular personnel is affected by COVID-19.

Monitoring the microbiological quality of the drinking water distributed

Microbiological analyses are a priority for ensuring the quality of the drinking water distributed, and those responsible must immediately notify the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatique, public health authorities, and the population served if contamination is discovered during monitoring.

Laboratories accredited by the MELCC have been advised to give priority to the analysis of drinking water samples sent to them.

Government expectations 

Those responsible for drinking water distribution systems must comply with the following requirements:

  • Continue monitoring the quality of the drinking water distributed, to the extent possible;
  • If some monitoring cannot be performed or it is necessary to adapt the monitoring performed, document the situation and inform the appropriate regional office of the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques;
  • Inform the appropriate regional office of the MELCC and public health regional office of any notices issued to the population served regarding a problem that was identified or anticipated with drinking water quality.

The MELCC will exercise leniency regarding certain administrative obligations during the pandemic. However,  absolutely no compromise should be made with respect to the microbiological quality monitoring of distributed drinking water.