EPA recommendations for operating water and wastewater plants in a pandemic
September 18, 2009

The EPA has issued a number of advisories and guidelines for dealing with a pandemic (for now, pandemic flu is the main concern), because a major outbreak could put serious strain on the human resources necessary to keep many water and wastewater plants in operation. Yet, as essential public services, these plants simply cannot afford to shut down, even if they experience 50% staff absences due to illness. The recommendations include advice to have a strategy in place for public communication, even if normal chains of communication are disrupted (a subject we discussed in our presentation on media relations for the water industry to the Nebraska AWWA state convention last year), and to have adequate documentation for ensuring that the work can still be done, even if the usual staff members aren't there (the subject of one of our presentations at this year's Nebraska AWWA state convention).

The wastewater sector may have a part to play in mitigating the spread of viral pandemics, through chlorination, ultraviolet disinfection, and anaerobic digestion, all of which are subjects in which we have some experience. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

September 2009
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last revised September 2009