Des Moines Water Works Shelters-In-Place to Respond to Coronavirus

Words on Water


Are in the midst of the corona virus pandemic and the water utility sectors. Incredible response to the situation I'm very happy to be joined by Some folks from Moines waterworks. I have Ted Corrigan. He is interim CEO and general manager. Ted How're you doing? I'm doing just fine travis. Thank you great and I have Kyle Danley. He is director of water production. Kyle how are you doing good? Thanks troves great. Thank you both for coming on so the reason I wanted to talk to you is because I I saw an article in the media about steps you all have taken to continue your operations which includes having some staff shelter in place at the facility there And this just shows the incredible dedication of people in our sector. It shows how we are really on the front lines of public health protection. And how you all are first responders really out there when there is a a situation like this so just big appreciation your way for it. Could you just described this approach that Moines waterworks has taken to continuing its operations? Sure you know we have had a contagious disease. Response Plan in place for many years. And as the co Ed. Nineteen things started to unfold. We realized that this particular virus appear to be very contagious. Much more contagious than other things we dealt with so we thought it was important to consider sheltering in place that was part of our plan but we thought we were going to need shelter people in place for a longer period of time We settled on two weeks as the appropriate length of time. Just based on things we had heard coming from the health community and whatnot and then when we still thought about sheltering people for two weeks. We thought we'd better do this right. We'd better make sure that they're comfortable. Better make sure they have food. Eat laundry facilities shower facilities really just couldn't imagine asking our folks to sleep on cots in the break room for two weeks so we did And up deciding that we would rent. Some campers. Some some Nicer Campers so the folks would have a place to get away at night. they are working twelve hour shifts Seven days a week for two weeks straight wanted them to have a decent place to get away and get cleaned up and have some privacy if they wanted it and we've set up a quite a pantry down there Cow Can probably talk more about what's going on inside he's are inside Guy But we really thought we needed to get the folks setup and in a way that would be sustainable for a two week period. How many how many people are involved in that that sheltering in place they're being onsite. Currently we have twenty one people sequestered across the three water treatment plants. Okay so you have three different locations than and when you put this plant plan into action. Was it something where the staff were pre identified? Did THEY HAVE TO VOLUNTEER. Where they how did that? Go about from a personnel standpoint. Well we knew what skill sets we needed. We needed operators. Obviously we needed maintenance and repair folks We wanted some support folks in some supervisors so as more a case of just identifying the skill and then I would let kyle walk through how they actually identified the individual people within those skill sets. We did look at the skill sets that we had and we. We tried to limit the amount of staff that had to be here as much as we could. We have typically about sixty staff members and water production operate that three plants of sixty remote sites. I we got down to about twenty or a little over twenty people so about a third of our staff being here again. It's a mix of operators maintenance staff laboratory staff and Fab shop staff to help make repairs on things so we scaled down as small as we possibly could annoying that. This thing is probably going to go on for weeks at a time. We're GONNA need other people to come in and trying to give some staff to get home to their families for a few weeks before their call back in against Looking at the smallest amount of group we could to meet our regulatory needs to continue to operate the plants and maintain them As we need to continue to serve water and serve Central Iowa down. That was one of my questions was. What'S THE PLAN FOR Kind of medium term long term here. So you're going to the ideas that every two weeks the team will kind of rotate out? Yes every two weeks we will rotate out or on our fourth day. Right now. On the verse. Two Week period staff has been extremely supportive They understand that during their public health role and that they need to take time away from their family and friends to make sure that the community is served Getting clean drinking water. So we've had great staff support in order to help out to to come in and spend their two weeks here so we were greatly appreciative of that on the inside their kyle. Talk a little bit more about What daily life is like now? I mean obviously you're doing everything with the operations and the facility and keeping keeping the treatment going but What's it like just as a person being in this situation? That's pretty unprecedented right. Sure it's we always spend a lotta time here anyway but never twenty four seven so being on the fourth day Things have been pretty good. The first day was a little hectic. Just getting everybody settled into the campers. it's very cold. Still appeared campers had been on winterized. We have a lot of folks that are not campers just having to understand how to operate the campers and things like that that a challenge the first couple of days and trying to get all the food in here for everybody's needs that was a challenge when we first started setting this up a couple of weeks ago that was a lot of the supermarkets were having limited supply of food so we were challenged trying to get food. Come in here We purchased xtra refrigerators and deep freezers. Now that we've got power Full hookups all. The Campers Setup which was a chore itself trying to get Water and sewer and power to all these campers onsite and refrigeration and all the campers were a little more refrigeration storage here but Food was certainly a challenge as we were planning this and trying to get things. Set up so Things are Set up nicely now kind of getting back to our normal Work schedule At least getting bill do normal work duties and things like that but Long days twelve hour days. That's a little adjustment some for some employees but again they've had a great attitude and they realized that they have a big role in helping the community and we just have outstanding staff. Yeah do you. Does it look like you will have two different waves of people that just kind of keep coming back two weeks on two weeks off or do you have more staff than that. Or what's kind of the numbers game look like? Well we again. We have about sixty staff members but I'm guessing the Sun will be here for two weeks off in the back for two weeks. Others may be every six weeks shifts are coming in it. All depends on their their health. We're checking in with staff daily. Make sure if they're home. Are you healthy? And Are you able to come back in you know? I always assuming that we're could get some staff members. They get sick. That's going to mix up the schedule And others are willing to come in and they have to do a backpack shift. We already have plenty of people that are volunteering to do that. If necessary. If they're co workers are getting sick they're not able to come back in so I think the schedule is going to be very dynamic. Is we see how how the community is doing. And how our staff is doing outside the Levy and making sure they're staying healthy and things like that so Hopefully we'll get most of them will the get two weeks off and be able to be back with their families for a couple of weeks but We shall see how things play forward. Yeah so how? How else are you keeping the morale up then Given the twelve weeks and the campers and you know I mean you got everybody works together but yeah how he how. He keeps things as light as you can well. Certainly the campers were a big help as Ted mentioned. No one wants to sleep on air mattresses and the plant plant is a very noisy place trying to sleep here With backwash is and everything else Pumps motors running would just not be a very comfortable place. A staff is very grateful to have campers bill to get away We've also been working with our it department. They are helping to set up. Better Wifi In the campground area so to speak where we have the camper. So that folks can get to these campers and be able to skype their family and friends. have some communication autry all to watch TV or keep up on the news and stuff like that. So we understand that technologies of wouldn't for our staff so they do have a few hours off before the end of their shift. They could reach out to their family and and have some normalcy to to watch the shows that they want to and things like that. That has been important. Certainly food is always important. Keeping a raise. Got What they wanted with. A need to So yeah it's it's been very positive so

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