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The Water Environment Federation has published the first of a series of vidoe roundtable discussions with executive leaders from across the water sector. These discussions will discuss how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting operations, business, and people.
Fred Andes is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg and the leader of the firm’s water team. In this episode Fred explains the County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving pollution discharges under the Clean Water Act, specifically whether pollution from a point of discharge into a groundwater source that can potentially reach navigable waterways must be regulated.
With the water sector deeply involved in the response to the coronavirus pandemic, WEF administered a second in a series of quick, informal polls concerning the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector. The focus of this poll was to gain some general insights into the effects on the supply chain.
WEF has made access free to “Biological Hazards at Wastewater Treatment Facilities,” via Access Water. This book chapter is written by water professionals for water professionals to help protect them against workplace exposure to pathogens, including viruses.
Water professionals on the front lines in the water and wastewater sector, especially those in maintenance and facility operations, may not have the option of working from home during shutdowns like those caused by the coronavirus outbreak. In addition, each member has technically specialized knowledge unique to their community systems.
With the water sector protecting public health throughout the coronavirus pandemic, WEF administered a quick, informal poll to gain some insights into how this situation is effecting the water workforce. The results below were collected between March 23 and 28.
On March 27, U.S. EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, issued a letter to State Governors requesting that water and wastewater workers, as well as the manufacturers and suppliers who provide vital services and materials to the water sector, be considered essential workers and businesses by state authorities when enacting restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Ted Corrigan is interim CEO and General Manager and Kyle Danley is Director of Water Production at Des Moines Water Works. In this episode Ted and Kyle explain how the utility responded to coronavirus by activating a long-standing response plan and having essential staff shelter-in-place at its three treatment facilities. They discuss how 20 employees will stay onsite for two week rotations, working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to provide clean water and sanitation for 500,000 people in central Iowa. Ted and Kyle say the staff understand they are serving in a public health role and helping their community, and that support is strong from external staff, the utility’s board, and the union.
During these challenging times, we want to be clear about what we know about coronavirus and water treatment. The obligations of the drinking water and wastewater treatment sector to the public and our workforce is not put on hold when new contaminants entering our systems come with unknowns. We follow the best science available and make decisions to protect public and occupational health.
WEF is taking steps to help ensure the health and safety of our members, staff, and the community as well as seeking alternate avenues to provide the educational content and expertise you need. Watch video messages from WEF President Jackie Jarrell and WEF Executive Director Walt Marlowe.