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State orders public water supplies to disinfect

Mar 30 2020, 1:36 PM

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s drinking water division is now requiring most public drinking water system operators to disinfect during the state of emergency. 

The novel coronavirus has not been detected yet in drinking water supplies, and the March 20th decision came out of an “abundance of caution,” according to the DEC.

“In light of the fact that our public health system is incredibly constrained at the moment, we want to be able to have some more assurance that we are avoiding any potential issues with other pathogens that might come up,” said Peter Walke, DEC commissioner. 

Drinking water systems at places like gas stations and campgrounds that do not serve the same people for extended periods of time — called “transient non-community water systems” — do not have have to disinfect. 

Liz Royer, executive director of the Vermont Rural Water Association, which provides training and support for water and wastewater system operators, said most of the systems that now have to disinfect were already doing so with chlorine or ultra-violet disinfection. And those that weren’t are required to have “stand-by disinfection” ready to be used. 

— Elizabeth Gribkoff