COVID-19 Community of Interest

COVID-19 is an unprecedented event across the globe and significant investigation and research is needed to find solutions to this issue. Our COVID-19 CoI is the central place for water utilities to stay up-to-date with COVID-19 and the implications for the water sector. 

We continue to monitor the situation closely in relation to water and wastewater developments and are providing advice and facilitating collaboration with our Industry, Research and Health members, Trusted Partners and networks.

What we are doing:

  • Leading a national research initiative, The ColoSSoS Project, to understand the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated virus (SARS-CoV-2) on our wastewater systems. 
  • WaterRA is a member of an international group led by the Global Water Research Coalition to share information across the globe
  • Developed a regularly updated factsheet to help utilities understand the implications of COVID-19 on water and wastewater
  • Created an online Community of Interest to share information and provide avenues for collaboration

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of enveloped RNA viruses. These lipid-enveloped CoV viruses are generally considered more fragile than other viruses (both environmentally, and to disinfection), however are known to cause illness of variable severity in humans, including the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV), and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV). The name ‘corona’ comes from their round appearance and the spikes on their surface that can be likened to a solar corona.


Implications for the water sector

Some coronaviruses can potentially survive in the gastrointestinal tract and be spread by the ‘faecal-oral’ route or via inhalation of contaminated wastewater droplets. There have not been reports of faecal-oral transmission of COVID-19 to date.

  • Two studies have reported detection of SARS-CoV-2 fragments in faecal matter of COVID-19 patients
  • Whilst plausible, because it’s newly discovered, it is not yet certain how well the virus is able to survive in water and wastewater.
  • However, nasal secretions are found in wastewater (e.g. due to flushing of tissues) and most likely SARS-CoV-2 will enter wastewater systems.
  • Furthermore, the most similar virus tested, SARS-CoV, was shown to be present in wastewater and to persist in faeces, urine, water and wastewater for periods up to 2 days at 20°C, at least 14 days at 4°C, and survive for 4 days in diarrheal stool samples with an alkaline pH at room temperature.


Helpful Resources

Media Links 


Join our COVID-19 national research initiative 

Interested in being part of our COVID-19 national research initiative? Visit our Open RFF page for further details on this initiative and how you can contribute. 

Already part of the COVID-19 national research initiative?

Click here to access the COVID-19 portal.