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Four weeks of confinement flew by, says Brandon water crew who lived on site

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The Manitoba City of Brandon’s mayor is praising water workers who have been sacrificing time with their families during the pandemic to live on-site at the city’s water treatment facility 24-7 to ensure the safe production of potable water for residents, institutions and businesses.

The City activated its Water Treatment Facility Pandemic Preparedness Plan in late March, and municipal officials say they have now moved to a second sequestered crew for the facility, while 14 additional water treatment facility and maintenance staff remain on the job outside the facility.

Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest said the water workers living on-site “stepped up and put the comfort and security of their own lives on hold in order to ensure that our community’s supply of safe, potable water remains uninterrupted.”

The City’s Facebook post about the sequestered water workers is filled with comments from the community thanking the workers for their sacrifice.

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Comments on the City of Brandon’s Facebook page thanking workers. Click to enlarge.

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City of Brandon water treatment facility operator Alan Howe says he and the other operators who were part of the first live-in crew at the plant are now excited to be home with their families, but were also surprised at how fast four weeks of confinement flew by.

“We all very much appreciated the abundance of food and entertainment provided to us by the City of Brandon,” Howe said in a statement to media. “We had an adjustment period at the beginning, but felt comfortable in our surroundings at the end. If asked to come back into the facility for another sequestration, we all would say ‘yes,’” he added.

Other water workers have also been living on-site at facilities during the pandemic.

To ensure an adequate complement of maintenance staff for the second shift of the on-site team, City of Brandon municipal water treatment facility maintenance worker Dustin Maxwell was released from the plant early from the first team and was able to spend a week at home in isolation before returning to the facility for the second shift now underway.

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Left to Right, sitting: Alan Howe, Chris McLeod, Mark Wiltsey, Alex Curle, Tony Obijiaku, Dustin Maxwell, Sam Munro. Left to Right, kneeling: Jessie Barnett, Darren Bonnett. Photo Credit: City of Brandon.

Maxwell describes his time confined in the facility as a “comfortably stressful state,” adding, “we did miss our families, but we are glad to do our part.”

Brandon general manager of operations and city engineer Patrick Pulak told media that the City will “continue to offer whatever supports are required by the families of sequestered staff.”

Pulak added that it is very important for the community to understand that the COVID-19 virus cannot be contracted via the water supply, and that the on-site living plan is strictly to ensure the health of the facility’s operators.

“As residual chlorine in the water leaving our treatment facility serves to kill any such viruses, we want to assure residents that the water coming from their tap in their home continues to be the same safe supply of water we have always produced,” Pulak notes.

The Brandon Water Treatment Plant underwent substantial upgrades in 2019.

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