COVID-19 leads San Diego County water plant workers to live on-site

Throughout its isolation, the mission-critical team living at the Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant (pictured) will receive supplies, including food and other perishable items, via daily no-contact deliveries. Photo credit: Poseidon Water

As California, the most populous state in the U.S., ordered its nearly 40 million residents to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, one San Diego County desalination plant publicly shared its plans for a special water response team tasked with living and working at the plant 24-7 for the next three weeks.

The volunteer team members began living on-site on March 19, and will isolate themselves at the facility to maintain plant operations and avoid personnel exposure to focus on ensuring continued production of drinking water in compliance with federal and state standards.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water.

The crew will work in two different shifts throughout each 24-hour period to handle all operations and maintenance needs. Throughout its isolation, the team will receive supplies, including food and other perishable items, via daily no-contact deliveries.


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“While the on-site team shelters in place, a second team is remaining in isolation at home and fully prepared to take over plant operations should any situation arise that would necessitate a change in staffing or if the COVID-19 threat extends beyond 21 days,” stated a manager at Poseidon Water, owner and operator of the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant.

The Carlsbad Desalination Plant was developed as a public-private partnership. The project originated in 1998 and launched in 2015 through a purchase agreement with the San Diego County Water Authority. The plant produces approximately 50 million gallons per day of locally controlled water. Watch a short tour of the plant, or learn more about its various processes.

The emergency water team, organized through plant operator IDE Americas Inc., is a response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation in California, where more than 27 people have died and more than 1,733 have tested positive for coronavirus as of March 22, according to the California State Government website.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay home order marked the first statewide mandatory restrictions in the U.S. to help combat the outbreak. Californians are only allowed to leave home for essential items. The restrictions will remain in place until further notice.


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