Photo credit: Water Environment Federation.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is looking to highlight the importance of water services during the coronavirus pandemic by releasing a “toolkit” of graphics and messaging to showcase how water professionals are providing essential services critical to a community’s ability to minimize the spread, flatten the curve, and support medical professionals’ efforts to provide care, conduct research and develop treatments.

The “Water’s Worth it” toolkit is primarily designed as eye-catching, ready-made messaging that can be utilized on social media platforms. It features ways to teach children about the importance of water, while also focusing on the critical need for water and wastewater services and the dedicated professionals who work 24/7 to keep the systems clear and the clean water flowing. This essential work is carried out by skilled workers with “quiet consistency” and is “largely invisible to the public”, states the WEF, which is based in Virginia.

The toolkit also features web banners, icons and email signatures that offer water industry supporters graphical messaging such as “Water Workers are Essential”; “I Work on the Frontlines”; and “Clean Water is Our First and Last Line of Defense.”

“Along with many critical professionals, water workers provide the foundation for the global response to the coronavirus, while maintaining the uninterrupted services we need for a functioning society,” said WEF President Jackie Jarrell, in a statement. “Their work is often behind the scenes and largely unseen to the public, so we want to make sure they are recognized along with other frontline workers,” Jarrell added.

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Some of the messaging included with the toolkit also acknowledges the increased risk faced by many municipal water systems as people’s use of items such as gloves and cleaning wipes increase, as well as their time at home in general during the pandemic. It all naturally elevates the risk of clog-prone items being carelessly flushed down the toilet. “Flush only the 3 P’s – Pee, Poo and Paper (Toilet) to keep systems clear and clean water flowing,” warns one graphic message.

Last week, Halifax Water took to social media to share images of how gloves and wipes are clogging its system after being flushed by residents. James Campbell, spokesperson for Halifax Water, told CBC News that workers are having to pull a pump out of operation for cleaning and that there is a possibility it could be damaged beyond repair.

In a statement, Halifax Water reminded that, “at a time when residents are being quarantined or self-isolated at home due to COVID-19, nobody wants to be out of their residence due to a sewer back-up. This is costly to the homeowner and poses potential health risks.”

Officials in places such as Long Island, New York, as well Orlando, Florida, have been battling new clogs lately. In Collingwood, Ontario, officials have also had to step up anti-flush messaging as they too have seen spikes in items such as gloves and wipes clogging their systems. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased use of cleaning products,” officials stated on the town’s website. “These items are clogging up town sewers and pumps because they were never meant to go down the drain.”



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