18 | ROCKY MOUNTAIN WATER MAY 2020
“As stewards of public health and the environment, water
professionals are well versed on managing risks associated
with protecting the water supply and planning for routine
and extreme incidents. The coronavirus situation creates
potential workforce and supply chain issues relative to
utility continuity of service,” said Kevin Morley, AWWA
Federal Relations Manager.
“Thanks to the work that utilities are doing to comply
with section 2013 of America’s Water Infrastructure Act
of 2018, the sector is already in the process of reviewing
threats that could impact utilities operation and adjusting
emergency response plans as appropriate,” he added.
“AWWA has supported this readiness by providing a Utility
Risk and Resilience Certificate Program see page 18 of the
January 2020 issue of Rocky Mountain Water and many
other resources.” (https://www.awwa.org/Resources-Tools/
COVID-19 is a serious challenge, and water utilities should
be prepared to communicate with their community the
actions they are taking to sustain operations. The COVID-
19 virus has not been detected in drinking water supplies,
and based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is
low. Conventional water treatment methods, which include
disinfection with oxidants like chlorine, are effective for
inactivating COVID-19. The US Environmental Protection
Agency (USEPA) recommends that Americans continue to
use and drink tap water as usual.
Utilities should be prepared for potential impacts to
operations, including staff absenteeism, and respond
to customer inquiries about water safety, according to
Morley. This includes staying informed about any measures
needed to protect both public health in general and water
professionals in particular based on guidance from USEPA,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and
Actions for water utilities to consider:
Review ability to implement workforce contingency to
sustain operations, which may include housing staff
on site or modifications to typical shifts, including
communication with staff on expected roles and
Coordinate with local public health officials to ensure
utility workforce has access to facilities and can make
necessary repairs to distribution or collection systems if
travel restrictions are imposed in a community.
Communicate frequently with suppliers of essential
treatment chemicals and supplies.
Communicate with your customers about the safety of
the water supply per USEPA and CDC guidance.