Former DC Water GM Releases Coronavirus Compendium, Advice for Utility Managers

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From George Hawkins, President of Moonshot Missions and the former General Manager of DC Water…

Water and wastewater services are essential to deliver clean drinking water and ensure safe waterways during the response to the Coronavirus. Water utilities are committed to providing these services, even as the Coronavirus has direct impacts on operations, staffing and finances. Utilities must ensure these essential services are delivered, while protecting the people who make it happen, as well as the facilities, equipment and of course, the customer.

Moonshot Missions, a non-profit organization founded by George Hawkins, the former General Manager of DC Water in Washington DC, has put together a compendium of best practices being implemented by water utilities in the face of this unprecedented challenge. Moonshot staff has compiled this checklist by reviewing resources from water associations, list-serves and dozens of utility response and continuity of operations plans.

We plan for this to be a “living document” that evolves as new practices are implemented. Please email info@moonshotmissions.org if you have suggestions or feedback.

We seek only to organize the wisdom you are gaining from your efforts to maintain critical water operations and welcome your insights so we can make them available to a wide audience. Please continue to reference the “Table of Contents” for routine updates to sections of this compendium.

We suggest scanning the Compendium to compare its suggestions with your current actions to assess whether any of the ideas might be helpful in your Coronavirus response. In summary, Moonshot believes that the following steps are critical for water utilities to protect their staff thereby preserving critical staffing knowledge and their capacity needed to sustain operations:

  • Minimize contact with the public to the maximal extent possible.
  • Send non-essential personnel to work from home if possible.
  • Utilize minimum staffing for critical operations on a rotating basis in order to reduce the probability of infection and husband staffing resources for as long as possible.
  • Create virtual control rooms via placement of cameras, use apps like FaceTime and similar services so that some operators can work remotely and provide guidance and support to the reduced staff on-site.
  • Ensure that inventory and spare parts of mission critical equipment are fully stocked.
  • Identify mission critical supply chains, such as fuel, chemicals and disposal chains such as biosolids, and ensure that they are kept intact with standbys available for redundancy.
  • Operate equipment at a level that reduces potential for failure requiring emergency repairs.
  • Have a list of emergency and back up service contacts at the ready.

We recognize that most water utility managers will have already done most if not all of these measures. However, we feel that if even one utility benefits by one of these suggestions, then the compilation of these practices will have been well worth it. The Compendium that follows goes into these best practices in greater detail. We at Moonshot Missions salute the tremendous work that each of you are doing to protect the public health and the environment, every minute of every day. We sincerely wish you all well during this challenging time.

George S. Hawkins, Esq.
Founder and President

Andy Kricun, P.E.
Managing Director

Sarah Neiderer, MPH
Senior Director of Utility Assessments

Stephanie Eatinger
Utility Assessment Specialist

Natalie Hawkins
Chief of Operations

Henderson Brown, Esq.
Counsel

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