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Water and Wastewater Personnel Considered Essential Workers by EPA & CISA

Last week, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to Governors in all 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C. urging them to ensure that drinking water and wastewater employees are considered essential workers by state authorities when enacting mobility and travel restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Drinking water and wastewater services are critical during this public health crisis. In the letter, Wheeler requests that, “water and wastewater workers, as well as the manufacturers and suppliers who provide vital services and materials to the water sector, are considered essential workers and businesses by state authorities…” The letter was announced in an EPA press release which includes additional information. EPA continues to add new information and resources for water stakeholders to use to support operations during the pandemic. Greening Tinker: Water treatment plant gushing about conservation ...

In addition, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, an agency that operates under the Department of Homeland Security, released a memo on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response. The memo provides a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help state and local officials ensure continuity of functions critical to public health and safety during COVID-19 response. The following functions are listed as essential employees needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure:

  • Operational staff at water authorities
  • Operational staff at community water systems
  • Operational staff at wastewater treatment facilities
  • Workers repairing water and wastewater conveyances and performing required sampling or monitoring
  • Operational staff for water distribution and testing
  • Operational staff at wastewater collection facilities
  • Operational staff and technical support for SCADA Control systems
  • Chemical suppliers for wastewater and personnel protection
  • Workers that maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting water and wastewater operations

The National Governor’s Association has compiled statewide actions Governors have taken to address COVID-19, including which states have instituted business closures.