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November 19 is World Toilet Day, the annual reminder about the importance of sanitation to health, communities, the environment, and the economy. While the day organized by the United Nations (UN) is an opportunity to celebrate how much the toilet has done for civilization, it also serves as a stark reminder that over 4 billion people live without access to safety managed sanitation.
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.