Water Is Essential, Especially Now
By Marty Kropelnicki, President & CEO
COVID-19 has forced policymakers, organizations, and individuals to ask ourselves: What is essential? What’s truly necessary in this moment, and what can we live without?
Water, of course, has always been essential. It sustains our bodies, keeps us clean, and nourishes our planet. We know this, instinctively. As the CEO of California’s second-largest water utility—and with our state’s history of droughts—we never take water for granted. Water is essential for life and, now, it’s also an essential tool for fighting the coronavirus and staying healthy.
As we rethink these everyday activities, particularly as we continue to open up our cities, some of our otherwise unremarkable routines have taken on a new importance and necessity. Overnight, handwashing went from a recommended habit to a critical procedure, elevated from mundane to lifesaving. Public health experts agree it’s one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from getting the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, and World Health Organization have all made it abundantly clear that the coronavirus cannot be transmitted through drinking water, and the safeguards water utilities already take to ensure water quality are effective to protect against viruses, including COVID-19. So, with many of us gearing up for reopening, one thing is clear: Your water remains safe for drinking, handwashing, cleaning, and cooking.
That also means that our nurses, doctors, and medical professionals, working tirelessly in our local hospitals and clinics, can count on the water they need as they risk their lives to save others.
I’m also proud of and inspired by my colleagues at Cal Water. Considered essential workers by the government, many of our team members remain out in the field every day, leaving their loved ones, to ensure the communities and customers we serve continue to receive safe, reliable water service.
At Cal Water, we have more than 1,100 scientists, engineers, field operators, and other experts dedicated to bringing water from the source to the faucets in our homes and the fire hydrants in our communities.
How do we make sure it’s safe? We test the water every day in our water systems. In fact, we conduct more than 400,000 tests on 62,000 water samples for around 300 constituents every year to ensure our water meets or surpasses all federal and state water quality standards. Our water quality experts use testing equipment so sensitive it can detect levels as low as 1 part per trillion.
While our top priority is protecting the health and safety of our customers and employees, we’re also committed to supporting our customers and communities during this challenging time. That’s why we quickly announced we would temporarily suspend water service shutoffs for customers unable to pay their bills, and restored service to those who had been previously disconnected. We’re here to assist any customer who has experienced hardship and has difficulty paying his or her bill through extensions or other arrangements. If a customer has lost his or her job, please contact us. We want to help.
We’ve also identified several local, community-based organizations to partner with and provide financial support, so we can help bring additional relief to those in need.
These are unprecedented and challenging times, and I know we all look forward to fully being able to see the people we miss and returning to the activities we enjoy. Until then, the one thing you can count on—during good times or challenging times—is that we’ll be here, working tirelessly, every day, to deliver safe, reliable water service.
It’s essential to us all.