Pandemic Preparedness for Water & Wastewater Utilities

As governments and organizations across the globe take action to slow the spread of the developing COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded again and again that many people cannot simply pick up a computer and start working from home. This is true for the dedicated operators and staff of the hundreds of drinking water and water reclamation facilities that so many people rely on for clean safe water and sanitation. It’s also true for the hard-working public works crews that keep cities clean and streets safe, that care for our parks and public spaces. 

First, we want to reassure you that your water supply is safe. According to the U.S. EPA, the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low. This is a type of virus that is susceptible to disinfection and standard treatment practices and disinfectant processes are expected to be effective. 

There are no easy answers to many of the questions that this public health crisis raises, but utilities across the country are doing everything they can to maintain the operation of these essential services. As operators of more than 50 such facilities plus entire public works departments, we have a special obligation to our clients and the communities we serve to be as prepared as possible. That is why every project we operate has a site-specific Pandemic Response Plan in place that is currently being implemented. These plans are a routine part of our Safety Program at all our projects nationwide and have been reviewed extensively the last few weeks. In addition, we are working hard to follow the federal, state, and local public health agency recommendations to protect the health of our operators and staff so that they can continue to provide essential services. The company leadership team is coordinating daily to stay on top of the changing landscape and communicating to the projects as needed to provide further direction. 

In addition to implementing best practices around hygiene and social distancing to limit the exposure and transmission of the virus, we are taking concrete steps to help the facilities we operate remain safe and healthy, including: 

  • Limiting access to facilities 
  • Maintaining a stock of essential supplies, including process chemicals, cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Providing operators with documentation identifying them as essential service providers so that they can continue to conduct their work if movement is restricted in a community or a curfew is implemented
  • Working with health care providers to determine if priority testing is available for staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed
  • Utilizing certified and non-certified personnel from the Woodard & Curran consulting experts
  • Enhanced PPE and disinfection at projects where someone becomes ill
  • Where possible and appropriate, staggering shifts to minimize human-to-human contact

If you have any questions about Woodard & Curran’s response to the pandemic or the steps we are taking to support our employees and communities, please reach out to us. The extensive preparation we have done puts us in a position to weather this storm as well as we can, and we will learn valuable lessons about both preparedness and response that will be integrated back into our plans. None of this is easy or simple, but we are working diligently and collaboratively to respond in the best way possible.


Steve Niro

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