Thanks to our Essential Water/Wastewater Workers during COVID-19

Greetings to my fellow WWID members!

I hope this message finds you well, despite the unprecedented circumstances confronting us.  As a global community, we may not face a greater, collective challenge in our lifetimes.  The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically impacted our world and every aspect of our lives, from work, to worship, to how we entertainment ourselves.  In the US, more than 26 million people are now jobless because of the virus.  Sadly, many have been tragically impacted by the loss of life.  We all face an uncertain future that likely will be different than before when we return to something called “normal.”  Truly challenging times.

However, I’m reminded of a quote, “Being challenged in life is inevitable.  Being defeated is optional.”  We will get through this, and whatever follows, because of the many unnamed heroes who are working diligently, perhaps at their own peril, to ensure that critical services and infrastructure are maintained.  Those unnamed heroes include the water and wastewater professionals who operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure.

In a March letter to Governors in all 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C., US EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stressed the importance of drinking water and wastewater services during this public health crisis.  Mr. Wheeler requested 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.”

Further, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) under the US Department of Homeland Security, released guidance for identifying critical infrastructure sectors and essential workers.  The Water and Wastewater Systems Sector has always been considered essential to modern life and economy.  The sector may be even more vital to public health and safety during this crisis.

So, who are these essential workers… these unnamed heroes?

Per the CISA, they are:

  • 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, including field staff.
  • Operational staff for water distribution and testing.
  • Operational staff at wastewater collection facilities.
  • Operational staff and technical support for SCADA Control systems.
  • Chemical equipment and personal protection suppliers to water and wastewater system.
  • Workers who maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting water and wastewater operations.

If you are one of these essential workers, thank you!  I know that none of you would consider yourself a hero.  No one feels like a hero just for doing their job.  But do not underestimate the importance of your efforts in ensuring that defeat is not the choice we make.  Rather, know that your diligence and perseverance, even when facing uncertain odds, will guarantee the best possible outcome both now, and in the future.

Even if you are not one of the “essential” workers, but are a member of the WWID, you too are vital to our industry.  Thanks to you as well for whatever role you have in supporting the many professionals who ensure the availability and reliability of critical water and wastewater systems.

I wish the best for us all in the coming weeks and months as we move towards recover and ultimately, back to productive and rewarding lives.  Thanks again to all who are helping make that possible.

Warmest Regards,
Don Dickinson
WWID Director (2020-2021)