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Art Umble, chairman WEF's Blue-Ribbon Panel on Biological Hazards and Precautions for Wastewater Workers, discusses the panel’s conclusions that occupational risk of infection is low, standard wastewater treatment processes inactivate the virus, and additional research should be conducted to further increase understanding of hazards and protections for personnel. 

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During the coronavirus pandemic, water and wastewater utilities are essential for delivery of clean water and sanitation during the response. Ensuring those services during a pandemic while protecting human health and the environment requires strong leadership. This episode provides insights into key considerations for decision-makers and operational staff on the frontlines. This episode is the audio from a Water Environment Federation webcast.

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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.

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