COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights Need for Universal Access to Safe Water and Sanitation

In a nutshell… The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for universal access to safely managed drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene. Acutely aware of a lack of progress toward achieving the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pre-pandemic, and new impediments resulting from the pandemic, innovative projects around the globe can help inspire

Tracking the Spread of Coronavirus through Sewage

In a nutshell… Properly treated sewage is essential to public health protection. This article discusses ongoing research into the potential role of wastewater in the spread of coronavirus and how tracking the virus in sewage can help align community resources and approaches in fighting the pandemic.   Researchers all over the world who are studying

New Concerns for Legionella after Coronavirus: Reopening Buildings

In a nutshell… One result of the sweeping closures of buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic is a sharp increase in stagnant water and conditions that can support Legionella growth in building water systems. This article highlights steps that CDC recommends to be taken when reopening and reoccupying buildings.   Lower photo credit: CDC/James Gathany Millions

Coronavirus: Protecting Water and Wastewater Workers

In a nutshell… Properly treated and disinfected drinking water and wastewater are essential to public health. This article highlights efforts to protect the nation’s water sector workers during the coronavirus pandemic.   While the nation struggles to keep coronavirus (COVID-19 virus) in check, safe running water is essential. Drinking water chlorination inactivates coronavirus, making it

What’s in Your Showerhead?

In a nutshell… Showerheads provide an ideal environment for some bacteria to grow. Most of those bacteria are harmless, but some can cause serious lung and other infections in persons with lung disease or weak immune systems, such as hospital patients. This article provides an overview of “showerhead safety.”   Tip: When removing a showerhead

An Update on Legionella Bacteria Management in Building Water Systems

Lower photo credit: CDC/Margaret Williams We continue to write about U.S. waterborne disease caused by Legionella bacteria and their management in building water systems because of their unrelenting public health significance. Legionnaires’ disease first made headlines following the 1976 American Legion conference in Philadelphia. That infamous outbreak included 182 cases of severe pneumonia and 29

Reducing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Inequalities around the World

It is unsettling to realize that in our high-tech world there are still large segments of the population that lack access to the drinking water and sanitation services most of us take for granted. The theme of this year’s World Water Week, Water for Society: Including All, seems particularly apt in light of this observation. Meanwhile, a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (image at right) provides a “special focus” on global “WASH” (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) inequalities. A product of the Joint Monitoring Program, the report concludes that while significant progress has been made toward achieving universal access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, progress is uneven. And although there is a laudable commitment at the heart of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda to “leave no one behind,” the reality is there are many groups potentially in that precarious position. 

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and Genes in Wastewater and Drinking Water

We’ve written about antibiotic (antimicrobial) resistance and “superbugs” several times in recent years, and based on what we continue to learn, there is likely more to come. Antibiotics are used widely in animal agriculture and aquaculture and are also found in wastewater. These pharmaceuticals are excreted by animals and people who are taking antibiotics and when unused pills and liquids are flushed down the toilet or poured into the drain. All of these actions result in antibiotics entering the water environment and our wastewater systems, and have contributed to antibiotic resistant bacteria known as ARB. I wrote in 2015 that “Responsible use and disposal of antibiotics will go a long
way toward reducing the unintended consequences of their entering the waste stream.”

Highlighting Drinking Water Week 2019

Next week, May 5–11, is the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Drinking Water Week—a time when water professionals and the communities they serve join together to recognize the essential public health role of safe drinking water. With just the turn of a tap, most Americans have unlimited access to safe, high quality, and inexpensive (pennies

Are Drinking Water and Ice on U.S. Airlines Safe?

Flying while thirsty? Every year, millions of Americans travel on thousands of commercial airplanes visiting friends and family, taking well-deserved vacations, or conducting business. While many travelers are concerned about their checked baggage arriving, chances are few think about the quality and safety of the drinking water or ice on their flight. But according to