COVID-19 Water and Wastewater Utility Best Practices Checklist

Posted by Rob Horvat on Friday, March 20, 2020

Treatment Plant COVID-19 Checklist

We have been reaching out to our water and wastewater clients, making sure their needs are met, and asking them what measures they are putting in place. The COVID-19 situation is new territory for ALL of us, and we hope that the practices our clients shared below provide some ideas that you can consider implementing for yourselves:

COVID-19 Operational Checklist & Best Practices

General Operational
  • Make sure that all employees have current Authority Identification Cards as proof that they are “Essential Personnel.”
  • Close office to outside traffic.
  • Post notice on the office front door / website encouraging customers to use the drop box / make online payments.
  • Discontinue any practice that would require an employee to enter a home including customer shutoffs (whether or not you publicize the policy).
  • Increase water tank storage levels above normal levels to ensure adequate supply.
  • Update website and social media pages reminding customers not to flush disposable wipes, paper towels, napkins, and tissues.
  • Implement and reinforce social distancing practices.
  • Split your staff work groups (operators, distribution, maintenance, clerical, etc) with half working 1 week on-duty & 1 week on stand-by (sheltering in place).
  • Emphasize that employees that are directed to stay home are expected to be available to respond in the event of an emergency or if on-duty staff becomes unavailable.
  • Extend plant shift durations to reduce frequency of shift changes and contact between operators.
  • Limit vehicle occupancy to 1 person.
  • Provide disinfectant supplies along with the directive to disinfect high-touch surfaces before/after each shift.
  • Make sure all of the information in your emergency response plan(s) is up to date and review it.
  • Review Standard Operating Procedures and make necessary updates.

Individual Employee Safety
  • Provide disinfectant supplies along with the directive to disinfect high-touch surfaces before/after each shift.
  • Implement and reinforce social distancing practices.
  • Limit access to areas where employees typically congregate (lunchroom, garage, time clock, etc.).
  • Provide employees guidelines regarding safe work practices and make information readily available to all.
  • Review basic hygiene practices and reinforce importance of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

Staffing
  • Allow employees (who can do so) to work remotely.
  • Discuss potential ops support if operator staff becomes unavailable.
  • Direct part time / casual / back-up operators not to report to work for two weeks.
  • Implement and reinforce social distancing practices.
  • Encourage management to provide remote direction to staff as much as possible.
  • Limit access to areas where employees typically congregate (lunchroom, garage, time clock, etc.).
  • Split coverage between available staff and direct some to shelter in place while remaining available to respond to emergencies.
  • Rotate coverage between middle / upper management so that only one level is present in facilities at a time.

Plant Processes
  • Review Standard Operating Procedures and make necessary updates.
  • Consider the implications related to chemical deliveries and availability if this event is prolonged for several months.
  • Make sure that chemical supplies at your treatment facilities are (over)stocked.
  • Discuss and consider the necessity for and feasibility of additional temporary chemical storage.
  • Consider alternate safe storage sites (different building on campus, etc.) if bringing in surplus chemicals.
  • Consider alternative staffing strategies (shift extension, alternating coverage, etc).
  • Extend plant shift durations to reduce frequency of shift changes and contact between operators.

We hope this post provides some inspiration in knowing what other folks are doing, and you're not alone. Please share your ideas in the comments below.

Authored by:
Rob Horvat Photo

Rob Horvat, PE

project manager

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Categories: Municipal Infrastructure

Tagged: Potable Water  |  Wastewater  |  Municipal Engineering  |  Environmental

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