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Office of Drinking Water Building Access
Due to the current State of Emergency, the Office of Drinking Water (ODW) has instituted risk-reduction measures for building access by members of the public. This is to ensure that our staff and visitors to ODW remain safe by practicing good social distancing and other CDC recommended protocols. The changes are as follows:
• If you need to pick up supplies from ODW, please call our office in advance and provide us with a list of items that you need. ODW staff will package the items and leave it in our foyer with your name on it for you to pick up at your convenience.
• If you need to deliver water samples to ODW for Division of Public Health Laboratory courier pick-up, please ring the doorbell in the foyer and an ODW staff member will allow you access to the building. Please ensure that you do not have a fever, symptoms of a respiratory infection, or have been in close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection. Upon entry to the building, an ODW staff member will escort you to our locked refrigerator. Please ensure that you practice social distancing during this time and until you are escorted out of the building.
• As a result of Governor Carney's most recent modification to the State of Emergency Declaration, we are taking steps to keep our employees and customers safe. Effective 8:00 AM on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, all visitors to the Office of Drinking Water will be required to wear a face mask to enter the building. Public Water System personnel and members of the public will not be permitted to enter the building without a face mask. Please call 302-741-8630 if you have any questions about this requirement.
• For additional information about how to wear and clean face coverings/masks, please visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Maintaining or Restoring Water Quality in Buildings with Low or No Use
Building and business closures for weeks or months reduce water usage, potentially leading to stagnant water inside building plumbing. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the following two documents to assist managers in taking action to address building water quality prior to reopening:
Special Notice for Non-community Public Water Systems
The following information is applicable to Non-community Water Systems (NCWSs) that supply drinking water within Delaware. Please share this information with water system personnel at your facility.
During this situation, NCWSs should take appropriate steps to ensure continued operations with a focus on treatment efficacy for pathogens. As a public water system, you need to continue to manage and operate your facility in a manner that is safe and that protects the public. This includes maintaining treatment and ensuring sample collection and analyses are conducted as required.
If you begin to experience staff shortages or chemical/equipment supply chain shortages for your water treatment facilities as a result of the COVID-19 State of Emergency Declaration, please notify the Office of Drinking Water (ODW) as soon as possible.
If you are unable to provide safe drinking water to your customers or employees, you may need to consider closing and suspending all operations:
• Please note that facilities that are closed (i.e., not operating and not using water) are not required to conduct routine compliance monitoring while closed. This includes any required performance monitoring for treatment efficacy.
• Should you decide to close your facility, please notify ODW, both when you close and before you plan to reopen. Depending on the length of the closure, you may need to take some additional steps to ensure safe drinking water is supplied. These steps may include flushing your water lines, resuming treatment (if treatment is provided), having a bacteriological sample collected, etc. Samples for any monitoring that is required on a quarterly frequency will also need to be collected as soon as possible after reopening. ODW will be able to advise you on the steps needed prior to reopening.
If you are able to continue your operations, even on a limited basis, you must continue to maintain all required drinking water treatment, provide access for compliance sampling, and conduct daily testing for treatment(s) where applicable. It is critical that we ensure drinking water is free of harmful bacteria and that adequate disinfection, where provided, is maintained throughout the system. This may require access by laboratory staff to collect samples or additional training for your staff to collect water samples if you are restricting access to your facility.
If you have any questions, contact ODW. Please be as specific as possible in the information you are requesting so that we can direct the request to the appropriate staff member.
Operator License Expiration During the DE State of Emergency
The Office of Drinking Water (ODW) has been contacted by a number of licensed water operators who are concerned that the Governor's declared State of Emergency and direction to avoid public gatherings may make it difficult to meet the continuing education requirements for their license renewal.
We understand and want to assure you that the health and safety of our licensees, your families, and our community will always be the ODW primary concern. We know your personal and professional lives have been impacted by this situation and we applaud the efforts you are making in drinking water for the good of all Delawareans. To address continuing education concerns, and allow our licensees to focus on the health and safety of themselves and their families, ODW will be implementing the following policy regarding upcoming license renewals that have been impacted by the declared State of Emergency:
• For operators whose license expires while the COVID-19 State of Emergency is in effect, and/or who are consequently limited in their ability to obtain the required number of Educational Contact Hours (ECHs) for license renewal, we encourage these operators to utilize online training to meet the ECH requirements. However, for operators who have difficulty obtaining the required number of ECHs for renewal due to the State of Emergency Declaration, active operator status will be extended for the remainder of the State of Emergency and for sixty days after it has been rescinded. License expiration dates and the subsequent one-year grace period will not change.
• These operators should apply for renewal as normal for their expiration date, submitting any ECHs obtained by that point. Please indicate with your renewal application that you are unable to obtain the required number of ECHs due to the State of Emergency and we will acknowledge receipt of your application in writing, which can be used as a notice of extension of active operator status. ODW will hold these applications until the sixty-day deadline, during which time these operators should obtain and submit the required remaining ECHs to ODW. Operators who do not submit the required number of ECHs by the sixty-day deadline will lose their active operator status until the required number of ECHs is submitted during the remainder of their grace period.
The above scenario will also apply to operators whose license expired prior to the declared State of Emergency but are still within their one-year grace period. That is, the one-year grace period will be extended through the State of Emergency and sixty days after it is rescinded. However, active operator status is not extended for these individuals.
Any questions on the above should be directed to ODW.
Essential Worker Documentation Template for Utilities
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a template for use by states, localities and water utilities to provide documentation to workers that are considered essential. The template is available for download here.