Coronavirus (COVID-19): What You Need to Know
The Otay Water District is committed to delivering safe and reliable water to its customers.
Drinking water and service provided by the District are NOT affected by COVID-19. The District is closely monitoring the state and federal advisories regarding the outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus disease. Coronavirus is known to spread from close person to person contact, like the flu.
DRINKING WATER SAFETY
Coronavirus is Not Spread Through Tap Water
Currently, there is no evidence to support the survival of COVID-19 in drinking water. The flu, which is a respiratory illness, is not spread through tap water. The coronavirus, also a respiratory illness, is not any different. There is no need to purchase bottled water.
Tap Water is Continuously Tested
To ensure its quality and safety, water delivered by the District is continually monitored and tested at treatment plants and points in the distribution system.
Filtration, chlorine disinfection, and other treatment processes are used to eliminate pathogenic organisms, including inactive viruses and bacteria, in the water supply.
Every year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water set regulations that limit the amount of contaminants that may be present in drinking water. The District’s annual Consumer Confidence Report provides details on the results and other valuable information. To view the report, visit otaywater.gov/ConsumerConfidenceReport.
There is no need to purchase bottled water, and there are no waiting lines for tap water! High-quality tap water flows directly from the District’s water system through your tap. If you do not prefer the taste of tap water, consider using a Brita filter or place your tap water in the refrigerator to improve the taste.
The District will close its lobby effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020 Anyone who needs access to the building should call the District’s customer service line at (619) 670-2222 and press 0. We ask anyone with flu-like symptoms to please avoid in-person visits to the District. See below for alternative payment options.
Payment can be made at the drop box located on Sweetwater Springs Blvd. before entering the District’s parking lot.
The District understands that some individuals are under financial stress due to COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the District has temporarily suspended shutting off your water and is not charging late fees until further notice. District staff will continue to read meters and generate water bills during this time, and outstanding balances for accounts will continue to accrue and be payable to the District. As a public agency, the District must continue to operate and maintain our community water services to provide safe and reliable water to our community, which are needed now more than ever.
For other payment options, including online bill payment, visit www.otaywater.gov/payment-options. For questions regarding your water bill and to discuss payment options, call 619-670-2222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Otay offering bill forgiveness during this time?
While Otay is unable to offer bill forgiveness, Otay is not currently assessing late penalties or disconnecting service for nonpayment. Water is an essential service, and funds to provide this service only come from the customers. We are asking customers to continue to pay by the due date on their bill. If unable, please contact us at (619) 670-2222 to discuss payment arrangements and/or extensions.
If you need further financial assistance with utility payments, please contact 211 for information on local entities that provide financial assistance. Other agencies that may provide financial assistance include the United Way of San Diego County and the Modest Needs Foundation.
What arrangements or extensions are available?
Customers may call (619) 670-2222 to speak to a Customer Service Representative to determine what arrangements and/or extensions work best for you and your situation.
Does Otay have any discount programs available?
As a public water municipality, it is unlawful to force one customer to subsidize another customer via a discount to one at the cost of another. For this reason, Otay Water District is unable to offer discount programs.
To find agencies that may assist financially with utility payments, please contact 211. Other agencies that may provide financial assistance include the United Way of San Diego County and the Modest Needs Foundation.
Are there minimum fees that must be paid even if a business is temporarily closed?
Otay does have minimum monthly service fees that are billed even when no water is used as there is a cost of making water available. Otay is not currently assessing late penalties, and we are asking commercial customers who may have difficulties paying to contact us at (619) 670-2222 to discuss payment arrangements and/or extensions.
To continue providing essential, high-quality water and wastewater service to our customers, the District is taking actions to ensure that our employees stay healthy and safe by providing a safe, secure and supportive work environment. These include measures like staff cross-training, telecommuting from home, practicing social distancing like teleconferencing into meetings, and all other recommendations by the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Hand sanitizing stations have been strategically placed throughout the District’s workspace and we are asking employees to wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day. Employees are maintaining social distancing during meetings and/or only conducting meetings via telephone, email, and teleconferencing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are coughing or sneezing.
- If you are sick, stay home and keep your distance from others to avoid spreading the disease.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces like phone screens, keyboards, doorknobs, steering wheels, etc. using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Practice other good health habits like getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating nutritious food.
SEWER SYSTEM: WHAT NOT TO FLUSH
Amid the heightened demand for toilet paper, the District reminds customers to avoid flushing alternative hygiene products down the toilet. Household cleaning products labeled or marketed as “flushable” or “disposable” should not be flushed. Why? Most wipes are made of woven fibers that do not easily break down or dissolve after being flushed. Their presence in the wastewater system can cause pipeline clogs or septic system failures. Items include:
- Masks and gloves
- Disinfecting or baby wipes
- Feminine hygiene products
- Mop refills
- Toilet paper tube
- Paper towels
- Cotton swabs
- Paint, pesticides or hazardous chemicals
- Cat litter
These products may clog home pipes and cause owners expensive and time-consuming repairs. They also clog public sewer pipes and pump station equipment leading to sewer backups. Be kind to your pipes and save yourself and your wastewater utility from potentially costly repairs. Put wipes in the trash, not the toilet.
Otay Water District Virtual Food Drive – donate online
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – prevention and treatment
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — coronavirus and drinking water and wastewater
World Health Organization (WHO) – Q&A on coronaviruses
Technical Brief: March 3, 2020, WHO, Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for the COVID-19 virus
Article: March 9, 2020, Water Finance & Management, Water treatment practices effective against COVID-19, WHO says
Press Release: March 17, 2020, Major water associations reassure public on safety of tap water during COVID-19 outbreak
KNX 1070 AM Reports: March 19, 2020, Interview with Jeffrey Kightlinger of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California