The Value of Clean, Safe Water Has Never Been Higher

One of the most important personal contributions we can make to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wash our hands. We’ve heard it time and again during this global pandemic.

It is such a simple act, yet it has become the frontline defense advocated by public health officials to maintain our livelihood and keep our communities safe.

This simple act, of course, relies on an essential ingredient: Access to clean, safe and reliable water.

As we recognize Water Awareness Month, this crisis has shown us that the value of water has never been higher. That’s because that value is measured in saving lives and maintaining our health.

As the largest private water utility in Arizona, EPCOR is proud to be part of the network of water utilities that are serving on the frontlines – keeping our hospitals and health care facilities running and delivering clean water to homes and businesses.

Indeed, water and wastewater utilities were outlined as essential services in Governor Ducey’s executive order in response to the pandemic crisis. For our health care industry, the delivery of water is truly a lifeblood, and we are honored to keep it flowing to our health care heroes who are saving lives.

For the majority of my career in both the public and private sectors, I’ve had the luxury of thinking in 100-year time frames, analyzing water supplies amid the drought and rapid population and economic growth in Arizona.

COVID-19 has shifted my thinking to the here and now.

I can tell you without hesitation that years of smart water planning has put us in a good position today. Although the drought is ongoing and we need to continue to make progress on long-range planning, we don’t have a water supply issue on top of our current health issues thanks to the work we’ve done.

This allows people to concentrate on immediate health concerns and doing things to stop the spread, such as washing their hands. You can’t do that without water.

And when it comes to the quality of water, there is no higher priority for EPCOR than protecting the health and safety of our customers and the communities we serve.

Our dedicated employees – 350 strong – have increased our already stringent water quality and safety protocols, testing systems daily and adhering to strict federal and local guidelines. This includes monitoring at various stages of the water cycle — from wells and water mains to the treatment plants and the tap itself. Our testing looks for microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, as well as organic and inorganic contaminants and chemicals.

It’s also important to know that our nation’s top public health experts have examined the coronavirus and its impact on water quality. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not detected the COVID-19 virus in drinking water and has determined that water treatment methods, such as filtration and disinfection, will remove or inactivate the coronavirus.

Years of smart planning has given us a cushion in times like these. As we all work together to fight the spread of this disease, the last thing we need to worry about is water supply or water quality.

Thankfully, we don’t. Instead, we will continue to keep clean, safe water flowing so first responders and health care workers can focus on flattening the curve and saving lives.

Photos courtesy of Epcor USA.

Doug Dunham, who worked in various senior policy roles over 19 years at the Arizona Department of Water Resources, is manager of water resources at EPCOR USA.

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