Abfa Says Covid-19 No Threat to Water Resources

By and large, coronavirus is not considered a major threat to the wastewater and water industries due to high susceptibilities to degradation in aqueous environments
Abfa Says Covid-19 No Threat to Water ResourcesAbfa Says Covid-19 No Threat to Water Resources

There is currently no evidence that the coronavirus can penetrate and infect underground water resources, director of the Tehran-based National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company of Iran (Abfa) said Wednesday. 
“Healthcare waste (a potential source of contamination) is disposed with outmost care and there is no way that coronavirus or any other virus can pollute underground water supplies,” ILNA quoted Qasem Taqizadeh Khamesi as saying.
Denying rumors on social media about not following standard procedure to dispose hospital waste, he stressed that 90% of hospitals are equipped with medical incinerators and a part of the waste is burnt inside the hospital. The rest is collected and buried in landfills as per specific guidelines. He did not elaborate.
Approximately 65% of Iran’s potable water comes from underground sources namely wells, the qanat water systems and mineral springs.
Tehran Municipality’s Environment and Sustainable Development Office regularly supervises not only hospitals’ wastewater treatment facilities but also the way hazardous materials are collected and buried in landfills, the Abfa chief said.
Wastewater from hospitals can contain traces of viruses and multi-resistant bacteria to medical agents and chemicals for cancer treatment.
Referring to Behesht Zahra Cemetery where COVID-19 victims are washed (observing protocols set by a special coronavirus committee), he noted that Tehran Water and Wastewater Company monitors the cemetery’s wastewater plant on daily basis. 


Close to 90% of hospitals are equipped with medical incinerators and a part of the waste is burnt inside the hospital. The rest is collected and buried in landfills based on specific guidelines

Moreover, the facility’s chlorination system is controlled with online tools. Chlorine, a strong oxidizing and disinfecting agent, is used as the main disinfectant in water treatment.
Under Islamic tradition in Iran, corpses are typically washed with soap and water before burial. Being washed and disinfected with sodium hypochlorite, the bodies of those confirmed to have coronavirus at the time of death are sheathed in black bags and the graves are covered with calcium oxide — lime — to prevent contamination of soil and underground water resources.
By and large, experts have been quoted as saying that the virus is not considered a major threat to wastewater and the water industry due to their low concentration in municipal wastewater and high susceptibilities to degradation in aqueous environments.
“The COVID-19 virus has not been and will never be detected in drinking water” because our drinking water disinfection practices provide the means to control most pathogenic bacteria and viruses responsible for waterborne diseases, he noted.
According to the senior water official, the risk of transmission of the virus through wastewater systems is thought to be low due to the fact wastewater treatment plants treat viruses and other pathogens.
COVID-19 is a type of virus that is particularly susceptible to disinfection. Standard treatment and disinfectant processes at wastewater treatment plants are expected to be effective.


Limited Capacity

The Abfa chief, however, reiterated that the capacity of water treatment facilities is limited.
“The virus outbreak has increased consumption and although treatment plants are working round the clock, it is likely that we could face problems in summer if subscribers do not use water more wisely.”
According to the Majlis Research Center, the research arm of the Iran’s Parliament, water consumption reached 145 million cubic meters between March 20 and 27, up 40% compared to the same time a year before.
The center’s report added that this amount equals the country’s peak consumption in July when the mercury is near 47 degrees Celsius and higher in some southern regions.
“Water treatment plants cannot and must not work day and night without stopping,” he warned, adding that most plants may need major overhaul before the hot season in which case water supply will be affected.
In Iran nearly 75,000 people contracted the virus as of Wednesday, with the death toll reaching 4,700.
The world’s tally crossed 2 million today. More than 120,000 have perished since the pandemic was first reported by China in late December. 

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