People Providing Essential Services in the Sacramento River Basin

Wednesday, Mar 25th, 2020

In the blog last week, we highlighted the State Water Board’s factsheet explaining how California’s water is safe and our existing drinking water safety rules and regulations protect against a wide spectrum of potential safety risks, including viruses like COVID-19. A Spanish language version of the factsheet is also available.

As we go through these unsettling times, many hard-working people in the Sacramento River Basin, as well as other parts of the state, continue to move forward with their essential services that are “critical to protect health and well-being of all Californians” and “to protect communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.” This includes water supplies, wastewater, food and agriculture, and the related supply chains.

On March 19, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 directing all residents immediately to heed current State public health directives to stay home, except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors as the State Public Health Officer may designate as critical to protect health and well-being of all Californians.

In accordance with this order, the State Public Health Officer has designated a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” that are critical in the Sacramento River Basin and throughout California, including Water and Wastewater and Food and Agriculture as described in the order:

    • “The Water and Wastewater Sector is a complex sector composed of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure of varying sizes and ownership types. Multiple governing authorities pertaining to the Water and Wastewater Sector provide for public health, environmental protection, and security measures, among others.”
    • “The Food and Agricultural (FA) Sector is composed of complex production, processing, and delivery systems and has the capacity to feed people and animals both within and beyond the boundaries of the United States. Beyond domestic food production, the FA Sector also imports many ingredients and finished products, leading to a complex web of growers, processors, suppliers, transporters, distributors, and consumers. This sector is critical to maintaining and securing our food supply.” For a message from California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross, click here.

These efforts to serve and treat water, feed people, and continue supply chains are not only critical during these challenging times to move forward, but they will also be important for the State of California when efforts are made to restart the economic engine. In this regard, we anticipate that the Sacramento River Basin and its people will be poised to contribute to this economic effort while supporting the vital ecosystems that grace the region.

Last week, the State Water Board also released a guidance document for public water systems that identifies relevant considerations and details suggestions to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the operation of public water systems and to support the continued delivery of safe drinking water.

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