Water Professionals Carry On Through Extraordinary Times by Steven LaMar & Pamela Tobin Apr 17, 2020 Voices on Water The COVID-19 pandemic has upended virtually every aspect of our lives. However, the commitment to ensuring the quality and reliability of California’s drinking water remains unaffected, thanks to the dedication and hard work of ACWA member agencies. Although often working unseen, water and wastewater professionals remain in the field and at treatment plants, ensuring that normal operations continue during these most abnormal of times. At the same time, agencies quickly took steps to minimize risk to their customers and employees, putting policies and procedures in place for field and office workers. Some agencies have staff members working from home and some have closed offices to the public, but all continue to offer assistance electronically or over the phone. Numerous water agencies acted ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s April 2 Executive Order to suspend water service shutoffs for nonpayment, some even temporarily cancelling late fees on bills. As an industry, we immediately recognized the need to reassure customers that the safety of their water remained unaffected by COVID-19. Practically overnight, water agencies throughout the state issued news releases, posted on social media outlets and developed visual tools for public outreach. Although massive in its scope, this outreach reinforced a consistent message about the hard work we have always invested in serving our communities. Despite this extraordinary time, the dedication of water workers really comes as no surprise to anyone within our industry. We’ve seen it before. Extremes punctuated the recent decade through historic droughts and catastrophic wildfires, along with earthquakes, mudslides and even man-made challenges such as Public Safety Power Shutoffs. No matter how steep the challenge, our members always prove an unshakeable resolve to do what is right for their communities. This is a byproduct of why local governance of water is inherently the most effective governance of water. But it is also more than that. The communities we serve are the communities in which we live, raise families and build friendships. The people we serve are the people we know. Water agencies will come out of this together with their communities. COVID-19, while unprecedented as a type of crisis, will once again prove that what really keeps water flowing isn’t solely about pipes, tanks, laboratories or treatment plants, but the commitment of water professionals. Stay well, and stay healthy.