The situation with COVID-19 has continued to change and develop over the past several months.
We’ve been keeping an eye out for updates on mask guidance, COVID-19 case rates in Florida, and more. And now we’ve got an update about COVID-19 and potential impacts the treatment of those with COVID-19 may have on the water supply in Orlando.
According to Fox 35 Orlando, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) held a news conference on Friday regarding water consumption and the impacts of COVID-19. During the conference, Mayor Dyer discussed the high number of unvaccinated, critically ill patients being treated at hospitals and shared that many of them require liquid oxygen as part of their treatment.
Dyer noted that liquid oxygen is also typically used by OUC to treat the water supply. According to Dyer, the demand for liquid oxygen is high nationally and locally, and the priority is to use it to treat critically ill patients. As a result of the high demand, there are impacts to the supply of liquid oxygen OUC typically receives.
The OUC also shared this information on their page and noted that a regional shortage of liquid oxygen linked to the surge of COVID-19 inpatient treatments is impacting their treated water supplies.
Mayor Dyer noted that there could be impacts to water quality if the local community doesn’t immediately reduce the amount of water that they need to treat, because of the more limited supply of liquid oxygen. Mayor Dyer said that at this point they believe that if the community takes these immediate actions they will be able to mitigate the impacts on their water supply.
According to Fox 35 News, officials have indicated that water treatment could hit a critical point in a week if water consumption doesn’t change, at which point a boil water notice could potentially be put in place.
The OUC website notes that if the OUC’s liquid oxygen supplies continue to be depleted and water usage isn’t reduced, water quality could be impacted. But, they believe that won’t happen if everyone does their part to conserve water.
The OUC has indicated that lawn and landscaping irrigation accounts for 40% of the water use in Central Florida. Mayor Dyer said they are asking residents to help by temporarily limiting the watering of their lawns and washing their cars, and businesses should limit irrigation and pressure washing.
In terms of other ways to help, the OUC website has shared the following information.
UPDATE: According to an update from the OUC on August 25th, they have seen a moderate reduction in water demand and are continuing to ask customers to limit or refrain from watering their laws or any other non-essential water use.
In a press conference held on August 26th, the Mayor of Orange County, Florida, Jerry Demings, shared that as to Orange County specifically they are not at the level of issuing a boil notice. He also noted that there is no current likelihood that the demand for liquid oxygen would be exceeded because of their usage and levels within Orange County.
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more updates on this situation.