Darren Hess - Weber Basin Water

Darren Hess

It is a crazy time for all of us right now, donning a mask and maybe gloves to go to the store or anywhere in public for that matter. The COVID-19 pandemic has really changed our way of life for the last several weeks and may possibly change our lives even more moving forward. Hopefully, we can get back to some form of normalcy fairly soon.

Weber Basin Water Conservancy District has seen and heard that there has been a rush on purchasing bottled water during this pandemic. The district would like to address this concern that the public water supply could possibly become contaminated.

First, just a little insight into Weber Basin Water. The district is a large water provider in northern Utah delivering water to 700,000 people living in five counties. We deliver wholesale drinking water to approximately 50 cities and agencies, secondary or outdoor water to over 22,000 retail connections, irrigation or raw water to other agencies and agricultural users, and drinking water to residents in the upper mountain valleys by way of exchange.

Weber Basin Water would like to assure the public that drinking water supplies are safe. In order to certify that your drinking water is safe, our water professionals continue to come to work each day. These professionals include engineers, chemists, administration personnel, water treatment plant operators, maintenance personnel, lab personnel, distribution system operators and many others. These water professionals are indeed the unsung heroes who do their job day in and day out to guarantee that you have safe drinking water. They perform their duties without complaint and look forward to delivering this valuable resource to district customers.

In fact, in the event the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen, and the district needed to sequester employees at its water treatment facilities for seven days at a time or longer without seeing their families, we had employees volunteer for that duty due to their desire to serve the public. We would like to thank all our employees for their continued service and their willingness to come to work each day and perform their duties despite the potential for possible infection.

The district also maintains a fully accredited water quality laboratory to ensure that it meets and exceeds the highest drinking water standards. The district continues to take the required compliance water samples and report those results to the Utah Division of Drinking Water. Our laboratory remains open and is fully functional as we continue to perform water quality tests for many agencies and cities throughout northern Utah. This is an essential service and one the district will continue to staff to ensure that drinking water supplies are safe.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is not a waterborne pathogen and has not been detected in drinking water. The district owns three conventional water treatment plants located from Ogden to Bountiful that are currently treating water for culinary purposes. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection will remove or inactivate viral and bacterial pathogens. Consequently, there are not any concerns that someone will contract COVID-19 from the drinking water supply. The district hopes this information will help to alleviate any concerns regarding this virus and the safety of our drinking water supplies.

Working together will guarantee a bright and safe future as the effects of the pandemic begin to ease.

Darren Hess is assistant general manager and chief operating officer for the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

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