Water treatment falls within DHS guidance as essential

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, and has provided further detailed guidance on identifying essential critical infrastructure workers.

Broadly, DHS has included as "essential" all the roles workers in the water treatment industry play in delivering clean, safe water – from manufacturing through the entire chain of distribution to delivery and installation, including technical professionals, service providers, product installers, repair and parts replacement workers and supporting operations workers.

Due to these roles in safeguarding America’s drinking and processing water to households, businesses, industrial operations, hospitals, bottled water providers, pharmaceutical and other critical manufacturing, groceries, in-home food services, nursing homes and manufacturing – water treatment industry workers are squarely within this guidance.

DHS’s guidance urges those workers to commit to the maintenance and continuation of our nation’s infrastructure supporting water, the life sustaining resource. 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. 

WQA is reaching out to governors' offices across the country and has received direct commitments from several state governments recognizing the essential work of our industry. We have also been in contact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We sent a letter to the White House and have issued our Open Letter on our website as well.

In addition, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware and True Value have stated to customers that they all consider water treatment as "essential."

All employers should review in detail any state directives and local ordinances that may directly affect you and make the best decision for your individual business. For businesses remaining open, we strongly recommend that you develop company guidelines supporting a work structure in line with the DHS guidelines and/or other enforcement guidance you must follow.

The following points are recommended instructions that should be followed at a minimum:

1. Review WQA’s Code of Ethics and apply its principles

2. Print out a copy of WQA’s letter to the White House, the DHS Essential Services document and the WQA Open Letter and give to all employees who remain on the job during the crisis

3. Refrain from active in-person marketing such as door-to-door contact

4. Prioritize duties putting health and safety duties as top priority

5. Implement safety protocols for field-service employees

6. Work-at-home policy mandated for non-health and safety positions

7. Communicate your business changes openly on company website, sign on company door, and training employees 

WQA stands ready to provide resources, information and other support to our members during these uncertain times. WQA is fully operational in support of the industry. The WQA Lab remains open on site for product testing, and most WQA employees are fully available and working remotely in response to Illinois' current "stay at home" directive by the Governor.