This week, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-20, which is a “stay-at-home” order for everyone not subject to one of the “essential” exceptions (water and wastewater professionals full into the “essential” category). The order will be in effect from 11:59 p.m. on March 27 until 5 p.m. Friday, April 10.
In light of these new restrictions, we want provide some information we have been finding and collecting, including some general wastewater updates we have come across.
Governor’s Executive Order
As mentioned above, the Governor issued Executive Order 20-20 which includes water and wastewater operation as essential. Under CISA Guidance, essential employees in water and wastewater fall into the following categories:
Employees needed to operate and maintain drinking water and wastewater/drainage infrastructure, including:
- Operational staff at water authorities
- Operational staff at community water systems
- Operational staff at wastewater treatment facilities
- Workers repairing water and wastewater conveyances and performing required sampling or monitoring
- Operational staff for water distribution and testing
- Operational staff at wastewater collection facilities
- Operational staff and technical support for SCADA Control systems
- Chemical suppliers for wastewater and personnel protection
- Workers that maintain digital systems infrastructure supporting water and wastewater operations
Violations of this order constitute a misdemeanor under state law. If you have any questions or concerns about compliance with this order, please contact MESERB attorneys Gretel Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or Daniel Marx at email@example.com.
Best Management Practices for Wastewater Treatment Plants and COVID-19
We have been collecting information from a variety of sources on ways to manage and deal with COVID-19 at facilities. Here is some of the most pertinent information:
- Coronavirus and Drinking Water and Wastewater (EPA) – This link includes FAQs and other information regarding drinking water and wastewater, among a host of other helpful information. The Centers for Disease Control’s website page is also linked here and includes some helpful information, including FAQs as well.
- Introduction to Coronaviruses (Stantec) – Stantec recently put out this article to provide water and wastewater utilities with a summary of some of the relevant issues related to coronaviruses treatment with considerations and recommendations to water and wastewater treatment practitioners with respect to coronaviruses in general.
- Clean Water Act Regulatory Issues in a Pandemic (Water Environment Federation) – This is a webinar that contains ompliance information.
- Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Waste Management for the COVID-19 Virus (World Health Organization) – This interim guidance is a technical brief written for water and wastewater professionals and supplements existing IPC documents by referring to and summarizing WHO guidance on water, sanitation and health care waste which is relevant for viruses (including coronaviruses).
Questions and Issues Moving Forward
This is a very strange time for everyone, and dealing with meetings being postponed and cancelled and working remotely all create new challenges. With that in mind, we want to let everyone know that if there are any permitting, enforcement, or any other requirements, issues or deadlines up in the air or otherwise driven by COVID-19 that you need addressed, please reach out to MESERB staff. This could be obtaining extensions for deadlines/key milestones in existing regulatory or enforcement obligations like consent decrees, administrative orders, and long-term control plans due to complications from COVID-19. In addition, if there are any issues that you would like us to research further or compile information on, we are happy to hear suggestions on that. We are here to work for and advocate on behalf of you.
At present, we are planning to set up a meeting with the people we interact with at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to discuss the agency’s plans moving forward, and what some of the longer-term strategies might look like in light of the Governor’s recent executive actions, including regulatory compliance and enforcement. We will continue monitoring the status of infrastructure loans and grant programs and Public Facilities Authority funding as well.
As always, we will do our best to be in regular contact with the MESERB membership and provide purposeful and useful updates to you all. If you have further questions, concerns, or suggestions, please reach out directly to Gretel Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-259-1903) or Daniel Marx (email@example.com or 651-259-1907).