Small systems receive big support from local network that provides backup operators, training, and logistics
SALT LAKE CITY—Effectively protecting drinking water and water quality during the COVID-19 virus means that water system operators must commit themselves as frontline workers to ensure the protection of public health. Uninterrupted water services are vital to every community in Utah—especially those outside the urban corridor of the Wasatch Front.
The Utah Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (UTWARN) was set up to quickly respond to events like the coronavirus and safeguard drinking water and wastewater throughout emergencies.
This week, UTWARN coordinated the delivery of 40,000 cloth facemasks. These masks were manufactured and donated by the Hanes Corporation and will be distributed to drinking water and wastewater operators to increase their ability to maintain social distancing while continuing to provide an essential public service to all Utah communities.
“There may be systems, that due to an outbreak of COVID-19, require operational assistance,” said Dale Pierson, executive director of the Rural Water Association of Utah—the organization that administers UTWARN. “Accordingly, the Utah Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (UTWARN) is compiling a pool of certified water and wastewater operators who might be available to provide emergency on-site assistance to other systems in the event a system has a personnel shortage.”
The masks were acquired through a joint effort of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Utah Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (UTWARN) and the Rural Water Association of Utah (RWAU). The masks will be distributed to systems primarily by RWAU, which administrates UTWARN. Masks will be distributed to all sizes and types of drinking water and wastewater systems on a first-come-first-served basis. Five points of distribution will be located throughout the state where systems may pick up masks they request.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response, water and wastewater system personnel have been on-duty providing their service to homes, citizens, and businesses across Utah. These tireless and dedicated individuals are deemed essential workers. The infrastructure they operate is critical to human health and safety.
More about UTWARN: The Utah Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network is administered through the Rural Water Association of Utah (RWAU). Communications regarding this matter should, therefore, be through the RWAU office. Your system need not be a member of UTWARN nor RWAU to respond to this message.