An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Handling Contaminated Water for Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities


During a contamination incident utilities will have to handle contaminated water properly. This may include:

  • Isolating and treating contaminated water
  • Storing treated water and decontaminated infrastructure components

Decontamination will depend on many factors, including:

  • The specific contaminant
  • Incident and site characterization
  • Possible decontamination methods.

The Containment and Disposal Guide contains information on handling contaminated water, including:

  • Containment
  • Treatment
  • Storage
  • Transportation
  • Disposal
  • Decision-making flowcharts to aid a field response
  • 69 contaminants of concern to the water sector

Read the guide to Containment and Disposal of Large Amounts of Contaminated Water (PDF).

Also, watch our engaging webcast for key decision points when handling contaminated water.

Webcast: Containment and Disposal of Large Amounts of Contaminated Water (MP4)