DHS Consider Water Treatment Workers Essential Workers

March 23, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering all roles in the water treatment industry essential

Due to states and local governments across the country beginning to enact “Shelter in Place” orders, citizens are not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. There will also temporarily be a stop operation of “non-essential” businesses.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and is considering all roles workers in the water treatment industry play in delivering clean and safe water as “essential.”

According to the DHS, this includes: workers who manufacture through the entire chain of distribution to delivery and installation; technical professionals; service providers; product installers; repair and parts replacement workers; and supporting operations workers. 

“DHS’s guidance urges those workers to commit to the maintenance and continuation of our nation’s infrastructure supporting water, the life sustaining resource,” said the DHS. “Our water industry businesses should remain open and operational and our water industry workers should commit to this critical work as you are able – following all CDC guidance on safe practices, social distancing and awareness.”

The Water Quality Association (WQA) is reaching out to governors' offices across the country in order to ensure that industry workers are seen as essential by state governments. 

The WQA has also been in contact with the U.S. EPA and has issued an Open Letter on their website as well. 

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.

According to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), private well owners that provide services to their water systems including pump installation, water testing and water well drilling are still available.

“If you are currently drilling a water well or need work done to your water system please contact your local water well contractor,” said NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse. “Our members know their services are essential to their communities and are working hard to keep the water flowing for their customers.”

The Contractor Look Up Tool can assist well owners in finding an NGWA member of NGWA-certified water well contractors in their area.

Plumbing operations, such as Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), is working remotely and is 100% operational. PMI is currently pushing the Trump administration and governors to identify plumbing manufacturers as “essential” workers as well.

“We are in unprecedented times, but we are confident in the resilience of our community and know that we will weather this crisis together,” said PMI CEO/Executive Director Kerry Stackpole. “We believe reliance upon common standards as outlined in the DHS CISA guidance is critical at this time for the plumbing manufacturing sector and manufacturing in general.”

Additionally, the National Association of Manufacturers is continually updating a summary of state and county declarations and resources to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

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Cristina Tuser