Web Exclusive Q&A: NGWA President Merritt Partridge Discusses COVID-19

May 6, 2020

WQP Managing Editor Lauren Del Ciello asked NGWA President Merritt Partridge about how the groundwater industry is adapting to COVID-19 (coronavirus) concerns

About the author:

Lauren Del Ciello | managing editor | [email protected]


WQP Managing Editor Lauren Del Ciello asked National Groundwater Association (NGWA) President Merritt Partridge about how the groundwater industry is adapting to COVID-19 (coronavirus) concerns. Read Partridge's responses below, learn how NGWA is working to help their members, and find resources to help your business.

What COVID-19 Means for the Water Well Industry

Lauren Del Ciello: Amid COVID-19 concerns and shelter-in-place orders, what are considered "essential" roles and how do NGWA members fit in?

Merritt Partridge: The Federal Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency has issued a memo outlining industries and services it deems critical to nationwide infrastructure vitality. Among the industries and services listed is "water and wastewater" work.  44% of the U.S. populate depends on groundwater for its drinking water supply. Our membership is diverse. Drilling contractors, scientist, engineers, manufactures, and suppliers come together for one common interest…groundwater. 

Del Ciello: What are the biggest obstacles the water well industry is facing during COVID-19 concerns and shelter-in-place orders?

Partridge: Safety. Keeping folks in our industry and our customers safe is a priority. Since the water well industry is an essential service we can continue to operate. However, it is not business as usual. Operating during these times pose risk most water well companies are not used to. Companies should be more focused than ever on the safety of their employees due to COVID-19. 

Steps for Water Well Contractors to Remain Safe

Del Ciello: What steps can water well contractors take to remain safe and also work to ensure customer safety during this turbulent time?

Partridge: NGWA has published a “Contractor COVID-19 Checklist:Steps to Stay Safe.” We have outlined several ways contractors can protect their employees and their customers. For instance: Only do the calls that need to be done. Sanitize hands on the way in and on the way out. Limit interaction with the customer as much as possible. Wear nitrile latex gloves and dispose after the call. 

Del Ciello: How can water well workers effectively communicate with customers during this time regarding safety and service availability?

Partridge: Communication is critical.  Asking questions emphasizes your priority to not only your safety but also the safety of your customers. There are some questions we recommend asking customers prior to performing any work: Have you or anyone in your home been out of the country or traveled extensively in the last 30 days? Is anyone in the home immune compromised? Is anyone in the home running a fever? Does anyone in the home have a cough? If “yes" is the answer to any of the above questions, you may reconsider working with that customer.

Del Ciello: Are there any tools available to guide small businesses that may be facing challenges from either lack of business or lack of staff related to COVID-19 concerns?

Partridge: I would encourage them to check in with NGWA on a regular basis.  We are constantly looking for ways to help businesses in this environment and publishing them on our website and Facebook page. There are currently several publications and guidelines.

Del Ciello: How can the water well industry potentially learn from these experiences to create an even more resilient future?

Partridge: The long-term effects on our businesses remains to be seen. However, adapting to natural disasters and adverse economic situations is something the water well industry is good at. This pandemic does present a whole new set of challenges but as long as there is a demand for water, our services will be needed…even in dire situations. We should be grateful for that.

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