The novel coronavirus mainly spreads from human to human. The virus can only survive for a short time outside the body. Once outside the body, the virus can no longer replicate, and that means it cannot make you sick. Water appears to play a minimal role in the spread of the virus. What does this mean for our drinking water? And can we still go swimming this spring and summer? This page offers more information about this topic. The page also tells you what this means for wastewater.

Not all the information on our website has been updated according to the press conference on 27 May. We will update our information as soon as possible.

Drinking water

So far, the coronavirus has not been found in our tap water. There are strict laws in the Netherlands to ensure the microbiological safety of drinking water. Protection against viruses is also taken into account. This is fairly unique worldwide, and also protects us against the new coronavirus.

Bathing water


Official swimming locations
The official swimming locations will open on 1 May. So far, there is no evidence that the virus is spreading via water. This has been confirmed by the WHO. However, a swimming location must be able to comply with the currently applicable hygiene rules to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. That means that people have to keep 1.5 meters distance from each other and give each other space at the swimming locations.

A protocol has been provided that describes how everyone involved – from the location manager to the recreational users, and from the municipality to the supervisory authorities – can contribute to the implementation of these rules. Information about the protocol will be clearly communicated at the swimming locations. Information on this topic is also available at www.zwemwater.nl (in Dutch). Swimming locations where it is impossible to implement, observe or enforce these rules, or prove unable to do so, will be closed.

Official swimming locations are places designated by the province for swimming in surface water. Water quality at these locations is regularly checked during the swimming season (from 1 May to 1 October). The water quality at official swimming locations must meet the requirements of the European Bathing Water Directive. Unofficial swimming locations do not have a designated status, and water quality is not checked.

Fountains

There are fountains that are in surface water and fountains that are placed in stone basins on public streets. All fountains produce water spray. The water in fountains may contain pathogens of various origins. Fountains need to be well designed, maintained and managed to ensure good water quality and safe fountains. Research shows that a fountain placed in such a way that the water spray cannot be felt does not pose a health risk.

Even at fountains, the highest risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus is person-to-person transmission. If you keep enough distance and give others space, and wash your hands regularly with soap and water, the novel coronavirus cannot spread. If large groups of people are playing at a fountain at the same time, making it impossible to keep enough distance (at least 1.5 m), it is advisable to avoid the fountain.

Risk of Legionella in drinking water

Many different measures have taken effect since the novel coronavirus emerged in the Netherlands. Many buildings are hardly being used, or not being used at all. As a result, some of the tap water in these buildings has been standing in the pipes for some time. Buildings that are considered ‘priority institutions’, such as hotels, swimming pools and saunas, are required to actively take steps to prevent the growth of Legionella in their pipe systems. Other buildings do not need to take those precautions. That includes gyms, sport clubs, schools and offices. The risk of becoming ill from Legionella bacteria is minimal at these locations. There are tips to limit exposure to Legionella in these buildings.

Frequently asked questions

Is drinking water in the Netherlands safe?

Yes. The coronavirus has not been found in our tap water. Drinking water quality is monitored continuously, so its safety is guaranteed.

Can I use public drinking water taps?

Yes, you can. Do not touch the tap where the water flows out. Make sure you do not sneeze or cough in the direction of the tap. If possible, turn the water on with clean hands or a clean tissue. These precautions will allow us to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.