Operations at Ohio Wastewater Treatment Systems during COVID-19 Pandemic
The operation of wastewater systems by trained operators to ensure Ohioans are provided with proper sewage treatment is a critical public health-related responsibility. Particularly during a declared statewide emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains critically important that certified wastewater operators continue performing their duties to make sure wastewater is being conveyed to the treatment plant and is properly treated.
Ohio EPA expects that all wastewater systems remain operational and adhere to critical compliance requirements that will ensure adequately treated wastewater. The Agency is working closely with these wastewater treatment entities to provide guidelines, information, and resources to assist them with continued operations, including appropriate staffing for their facilities.
General priority recommendations from Ohio EPA for operators and wastewater treatment systems:
- have backup staff identified to assist with plant operations in the event personnel become sick;
- perform solo compliance visits at plants and avoid contact through social distancing;
- stagger visits at plants during times when other individuals are not present (e.g., outside normal working hours for smaller treatment systems);
- ensure any contingency planning/measures in place are up to date and that these address items as appropriately certified professional backups, certified professional operators, and other personnel knowledgeable of the system; and
- disinfecting common surfaces frequently, including before and after shift changes.
Please note that smaller wastewater systems that are not operating as a result of the governor’s executive order may be eligible for a reduction in staff.
In addition to the guidelines above, contact your Ohio EPA District representative if you have questions or need additional information. Ohio EPA will work through the situation with you.
Conditions may change as this situation evolves. Ohio EPA will continue providing information and remain actively engaged with our wastewater systems to keep all of you informed and up-to-date on information, resources and decisions that are made to help all continue to meet our collective goal of having properly treated wastewater.