As the majority of the UK continues to stay-at-home during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, people employed in the water and waste sector continue to do their jobs on the field. Despite the crisis, there has been no significant impact on the supply of water and waste management services in the country. Rebecca Pow, the minister for Recycling & Resources, recently wrote a letter thanking those who continue to ensure that vital services are delivered to the nation.
The water and waste sectors had a good response to the challenges that came with coronavirus. Despite the increase in household waste, social distancing measures, drop-in commercial waste and absence of staff, the services have continued across the United Kingdom. In her letter, Rebecca thanked the workers on the public’s behalf as they ensured that water services continued uninterrupted.
The government had to take a series of unprecedented measures to tackle the crisis. It impacted the daily lives of everyone around us. The letter acknowledges the fact that many tough decisions had to be made during these times, including closing down certain businesses and furloughing staff. She praised how well the sector responded and adapted to the challenge and continued to maintain ‘excellent services’ to protect public health. It is also what has helped to keep both society and our economy functional.
Rebecca mentioned that those working in the waste sector may not be getting the headlines as compared to people working in other sectors during the pandemic. However, she assured that they have not forgotten about them within the government. The letter also laid importance on the government’s guidelines for the use of PPEs or Personal Protection Equipment and social distancing while at work. These would help to provide some assurance that those who are going to work can do it safely.
The government had issued several guidelines to battle the Coronavirus crisis. Among the major ones included asking people to stay in their homes. People have been working for homes since and only a few critical services have been allowed to operate. Those working in the waste and water sectors had been categorized as ‘key workers’ who were responsible for providing a critical service to the public. The water company staff has been working on the streets fixing leaks, laying new distribution systems, and unblocking sewer blockages.
Those in the waste sector continue to ensure that black bag garbage collection is not impacted. They are also working in recycling plants, energy recovery centres, treatment plants and waste disposal sites. All this has continued despite the threat and challenges that come with Coronavirus.
All non-essential work like meter readings has been reduced by water companies to focus resources on areas where they are needed the most. In addition to the staff that is on the ground, staff that has other responsibilities in water companies like providing customer service continue to work from home.
Apart from their visible presence on the UK’s streets as they carry out their jobs, water companies in both England and Wales increased efforts for helping customers through this crisis. Many companies have asked households that are suffering from issues in meeting their water bill payments to contact so that due help can be provided.
Water companies have adopted a series of measures to help those unable to pay for wastewater and water services. Payment plans, deferred payments and no fines for delay payments are among some of the measures. As per the Chief Health and Wellbeing Officer for Thames Water, Karl Simons, the company is focused on ensuring that the flow of water is not disrupted during the outbreak. He also went on to assure the public that the water company had a series of plans ready for delivering their critical service in the future as well.