March 26, 2020

Municipal Utilities Response to COVID-19: UPDATED

Municipal Utilities Response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): UPDATED

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that the best way to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is regular handwashing and maintaining a social distance of 6 feet from people who do not live in your home. To help citizens comply with the CDC recommendations, Kentucky municipal utilities have reconnected service to customers who were previously disconnected and ceased utility shutoffs during this public health emergency.

Cities should notify customers that cutoffs have been suspended. The Kentucky Municipal Utilities Association (KMUA) created a model notice that cities can customize to notify customers of the temporary policy.  The Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) suggests that cities continue to refer customers who are struggling with paying their bills to local charities, churches, veterans groups, and senior citizens groups for assistance.

KLC is working with KMUA to help cities plan for disruptions in the workforce from COVID-19. The Department for Environmental Protection, issued a memorandum indicating that it will allow cities to submit alternate work plans should staffing shortages arise and will waive late fees on drinking water certification renewals until August 19, 2020 to allow operators more time to get certification credits. To allow for the smooth transition and sharing of certified staff between utilities, KLC is assisting the Kentucky Rural Water Association with compiling a database of licensed water treatment operators and distribution personnel. This database will provide water utilities the contact information of available, nearby, licensed personnel in the event of a staffing shortage due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has some guidance on water and wastewater management workers safety here.