The unsung heroes keeping society flowing
Businesses around the world are having to quickly adapt to the coronavirus pandemic as communities remain under lock-down, and everyday life is put on hold.
Regular and thorough hand washing has been a primary piece of guidance from governments around the world to stop the spreading of the coronavirus, Covid-19.
As a result, access to clean and safe drinking water has become more critical than ever.
And water utility staff operating treatment facilities – often the unsung heroes in society regardless of a crisis – continue as key workers to keep water flowing and wastewater taken away and treated.
Global institutions and professional water sector bodies have issued fact sheets and guidance documents to calm any concern over whether Covid-19 can be transferred via water and wastewater.
The message is that it doesn’t, the virus is susceptible to disinfection and water and wastewater treatment plants treat viruses and other pathogens.
With these messages coming from global or even national large organisations, it raises the question of how have water utilities at a regional and local level been communicating this to their customers during such an uncertain period?
At a time when people are panicking, and there is a continued sea of useful yet also mixed information, how are different utilities actively communicating the message that the product they produce continues to be safe and indeed more vital than ever before?
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We decided to look at different examples of utility communication to see how they compare globally.
Reversing water cut-offs in the US
In the US, more than 100 utilities in over 30 states agreed that during the coronavirus crisis they would halt the practice of cutting off water to homes that fail to pay their water bills.
According to the Food and Water Watch, a total of 15 million people in the US can experience water shutoffs annually for failing to pay their bills.
Bloomberg quoted a spokesperson for DC Water, which delivers water to the District of Columbia, saying: “We are not going to touch anyone’s service during the public health crisis…We want everyone to have access to water for health and family needs.”
WSSC Water announced it would be suspending all water service shutoffs for those facing financial difficulties.
The water utility issued multiple video messages, with the most recent (video below) including a message from its general manager and CEO, Carla Reid, as well as David McDonough, police & homeland security director.