Print Page   |   Report Abuse   |   Sign In   |   Register
MPUA COVID-19 Resources

MPUA & Municipal Utilities: COVID-19 Information

MPUA continues to monitor the status of COVID-19 and is actively working on plans related to outbreak prevention and alternative options to ensure normal business operations. MPUA is committed to the health and safety of our employees, members, and communities. Information will be provided on this page as updates occur.   

 

Table of Contents

Municipal Activities & Emergency Planning Resources

Financial Assistance for Utility Customers with CARES Funding to Counties (June 25, 2020)

Best Practices for returning to work 

FEMA Public Assistance Deadline (April 25) Looms for COVID-19 Disaster

MO Social Services announces LIHEAP program extension and Direct Payments to Utilities (April 15, 2020)

Municipal Utility COVID-19 Activities

FBI update on Cyber Security During COVID-19

Public Meeting Guidance During Emergencies(April 8, 2020)

GFOA Disaster Recovery Cost Documentation (April 8, 2020)

EPA Approved Disinfectants for Use Against COVID-19 (April 8, 2020)

Federal Disaster Assistance for Local Governments (March 31, 2020)

Tips for Reducing Staff Interactions to Avoid COVID-19 Exposure from OSHA

FEMA Announces Free Access to GIS Software (March 31, 2020)

Pandemic Mutual Assistance Checklist

Sunshine Law Requests During COVID-19 Closures

Notifying Customers of Reliability Efforts

Emergency Continuity Plans

Emergency Planning & FEMA Online Accounting Resources

Emergency Staffing and Mutual Aid Requests

 

MPUA Operations

Ensuring Continuity of MPUA Operations

Protections for MPUA Electric and Gas Supply Operations

MPUA begins Return-to-Office Plans on May 4 (April 29, 2020)

 

Federal & State Legislation

MPUA Requests Low-income Utility Assistance from CARES Act Expenditures 

MPUA and AMCA letter to Governor for utility customer CARES funding (May 26,2020)

MPUA engages with Congress on the impact of the COVID-19 Crisis (May 26, 2020)

Missouri CARES Act Funding

EDA CARES Funding Includes Broadband Deployment for local governments 

US Environmental Protection Agency – COVID-19 FAQ

Governor Extends State of Emergency and Announces Recovery Plans

Federal Guidance Released on State/Local Coronavirus Relief Funds

Small Business Administration's Program Funding for Payroll and Utility Expenses (April 21, 2020)

Free Emergency Management Webinars

CDBG funds available for PPE (April 15, 2020)

The Department of Natural Resources suspended four rules now through May 15th (April 10, 2020) 

Grant Opportunity from Department of Economic Development (April 6, 2020)

USDA Rural Development COVID-19 Resources (April 8, 2020)

Governor Stay at Home Order Extended (April 16, 2020)

Local governments may exclude Public Works Personnel from FFCRA (April 3, 2020)

Local Government FEMA Public Assistance Program (April 3, 2020)

DOE COVID-19 Energy Sector Frequently Asked Questions (April 1, 2020)

FERC’s COVID-19 Policy Statement (April 2, 2020)

MO Fiscal Year 2020 Expenditure Restrictions (April 1, 2020)

Federal assistance available for Utility Customers (March 31, 2020)

Essential Utility Employees - Letter to Governor Parson (March 31, 2020)

Federal Legislative Response to COVID-19 (March 26, 2020)

Federal Lending for Municipalities (March 24, 2020)

 

Electric Utility Sector Information

Updated Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council's COVID Resource Guide (June 26, 2020)

American Public Power Association Resources

 

Water & Wastewater Utility Sector Information

DNR temporarily suspends certain water/wastewater operator certification requirements

EPA & DNR’s Temporary Enforcement Policy (April 22, 2020)

Can wastewater inform local officials about the presence of COVID-19?

Center for Disease Control: Guidance for Workers Handling Sewage – COVID-19

News Release to remind the community to only flush the three P’s

DNR Operator Certification Information Regarding COVID-19 (March 31, 2020)

Webinar on Legal Aspects of COVID-19 - American Water Works Association (March 31, 2020)

Infographic to display at your water and wastewater treatment plants

AWWA Webinar for Sustaining Operations

DNR Water Protection Program Update

Water and Wastewater Online Training

Educate the Community on Drinking Water Treatment Practices

Protections for Water and Wastewater Operations

 

Utility Industry & COVID Health Resources

Utility Industry COVID-19 Resources

 


Municipal Utility Activities & Resources

Financial Assistance for Utility Customers with CARES Funding to Counties (June 25, 2020)

MPUA encourages Missouri municipal utilities to reach out to their county commissioners to discuss using  a portion of local government CARES Act money to provide a grant to help individuals that cannot pay their utility bill (water, sewer, electric, and gas) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of Missouri’s federal funding through the recent CARES Act was distributed to counties based on their populations. 

Municipal utilities have the opportunity to use the local government CARES Act money to establish a financial assistance program for individuals impacted by COVID-19. The financial assistance program can assist individuals that have not paid utility bills or have incurred significant late fees from March 1 to June 15, with subsequent opportunities until December 31. The term “individuals” can include residential and business customers as long as they have not received federal money to make the same payments.


SCENARIO #1 – UTILITY DIRECT PROGRAM

We are encouraging our members to review the attached documents starting with the Guidance Brief. This document provides the background information and associated federal FAQ documents necessary for developing a complete application to the county to establish the financial assistance program for utility payments.

We have provided examples of applications, spreadsheets, and certification forms providing necessary record keeping for audit purposes.

  • Exhibit A and Exhibit B are examples of applications to be filed out by the residential and business financial assistance recipients. These can be pre-filled by your utility.

  • Exhibit C is a sample spreadsheet developed to keep an ongoing log of the recipients

  • Exhibit D is the recommended Funding Certification for Utility Payments. ( we suggest that this form is reviewed by your attorney before use)

SCENARIO #2 – OUTSOURCED PROGRAM

Additionally, attached is an example of a community action agency developed program in Callaway County. The City of Fulton has proactively approached their community action agency and worked with the Central Missouri Community Action agency on the attached draft agreement. This is another route your community could take in order to provide assistance to those struggling with utility payments due to COVID-19.

 

Best Practices for returning to work 

As we return to work, many managers and employees may have certain concerns about returning to the workplace. Stinson Law, LLP developed a Best Practices guidebook that contains considerations when reopening the workplace. In addition, the Missouri Chamber has released a Return-to-Work Guidebook that may be a helpful reference as well.

 

Some may consider screening before an employee enters the workplace. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance suggests employers should measure employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to the beginning of each work shift before entering the facility. If you have determined to use this practice, this infographic is a resource to display that will guide though the CDC steps for screening employees.

  

FEMA Public Assistance Deadline (April 25) Looms for COVID-19 Disaster

April 25 is the deadline for political subdivisions and municipalities planning to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPAs) for federal disaster assistance. The RPAs must be processed through SEMA first. A FEMA fact sheet which outlines financial management practices to use during the COVID-19 response can be found here. Filling out the form does not lock a local government into participating, but not submitting makes it much more difficult to get into the process later. A SEMA Applicant Briefing video and information is available to help filers.

 

MO Social Services announces LIHEAP program extension and Direct Payments to Utilities (April 15, 2020)

The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) announced that the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program would be extended until May 31, 2020 in response to the statewide COVID-19 emergency. The program usually ends March 31. See announcement here

 

While the customer is the qualifying entity for assistance, utilities can receive direct payment from the program on a customer’s behalf.  If a utility is not registered with the state program, a payment is still made to the customer and then it’s up to the customer to transfer the payment to the utility. Only 70% of municipal electric utilities and 80% of municipal natural gas utilities take advantage of the direct payment option. DSS encourages utilities to contact the program to streamline utility payment disbursements to ensure that the payment is used for utility service.  Contact DSS’s supplier info here or the local LIHEAP community contracted agency for how to access direct payments. 

 

Municipal Utility COVID-19 Activities

MPUA has heard from various municipal utilities across the state who are implementing health related emergency management plans for COVID-19. For essential employees, many are keeping them isolated from the general public and enhancing cleaning measures between shifts. Some cities are considering measures to avoid cross contamination among crews. In some cities, utility payment offices are being closed, with payments being collected only in drop boxes, on the phone, or online. To support their communities during the COVID-19 outbreak, some utilities are not shutting off customers for non-payment.

 

As of March 30, there is no directive from the State or Federal government regarding utility shutoffs during the national COVID-19 emergency. MPUA respects local decision-making but urges consideration of emergency policies limiting shutoffs and disconnection policies. Several utilities (water, gas, electric) – municipal, investor-owned, and cooperative utilities alike – have already voluntarily announced such practices.

 

FBI update on Cyber Security During COVID-19

The FBI has released Public Service Announcement (I-040120-PSA): Cyber Actors Take Advantage of COVID-19 Virus to Exploit Increased Use of Virtual Environments. From this announcement, the FBI anticipates cyber actors will expand their current efforts targeting government agencies, the private sector, private organizations, and individuals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Computer systems and virtual environments provide essential communication services for telework, education, and to conduct regular business. Cyber actors exploit vulnerabilities in these systems to steal sensitive information, target individuals and businesses performing transactions, and engage in extortion.

 

As of March 30, 2020, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received and reviewed over 1,200 COVID-19 complaints. In recent weeks, cyber actors have engaged in phishing campaigns against responders, launched DDoS attacks against government agencies, encrypted critical files of medical facilities, and created fake COVID-19 websites which quietly download malware to victim devices. Based on these events and a survey of cybercriminal actions over the past two years, the FBI predicts these same groups will increasingly target businesses and systems which service the homebound population. If this or any other adversarial action is experienced, then please contact the E-ISAC Watch Operations  Team and create a Portal Post for instant community awareness.

 

Public Meeting Guidance During Emergencies (April 8, 2020)

The Missouri Attorney General’s office (AGO) has issued guidance to public governmental bodies during a public emergency such as COVID-19. Missouri law does allow public bodies to conduct meetings via video conference, online meeting, and telephone conference. The guidance provides information on how to handle notices, agendas, and votes of public meetings held virtually in addition to information on calling emergency meetings. The AGO’s guidance encourages public bodies to be mindful of the nature of business discussed or decided during states of emergencies, such as public health crises, and to minimize high-profile discussions and votes, if possible, until the crisis mitigates, or ample public notice has been given. A copy of the guidance can be found here.

 

GFOA Disaster Recovery Cost Documentation (April 8, 2020)

Accountants in the public sector must ensure that the governments they serve collect and maintain adequate documentation on reimbursable costs to take full advantage of this assistance. The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) urges local government financial managers to take all necessary steps to ensure that they will be able to collect and maintain adequate documentation on disaster-related costs to support maximum reimbursement from all levels of government that offer such assistance, including best practices on documenting disaster-related costs and ensuring adequate detail for support claims. See GFOA recommendations here.

 

EPA Approved Disinfectants for Use Against COVID-19 (April 8, 2020)

EPA has released an expanded list of EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The list contains nearly 200 additional products that are sortable, searchable and printable, and can be easily viewed on a mobile device. While disinfectant products on this list have not been tested specifically against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, they are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 because they have been tested and proven effective on either a harder-to-kill virus or against another human coronavirus similar to SARS- CoV-2. The list of EPA-registered disinfectant products can be found here.

 

Federal Disaster Assistance for Local Governments (March 31, 2020)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging local officials to take appropriate actions necessary to protect public health and safety pursuant to public health guidance, conditions and capabilities. FEMA is authorized to reimburse local governments for costs associated with “emergency protective measures” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. FEMA recommends that local governments follow the guidelines for “ Procurement Under Grants Conducted Under Exigent ” or “Emergency Circumstances .” See a summary of eligibility expenses from FEMA


Tips for Reducing Staff Interactions to Avoid COVID-19 Exposure from OSHA

Keeping critical staff members as isolated as possible while they perform essential duties is important. To reduce the chance of these workers spreading the COVID-19 to other crew members or cross crew contamination, consider the tips from OSHA in their COVID-19 resource guide

 

Some important considerations can be gleaned from the OSHA guide, including:

  • Job briefing and morning meet-up considerations

  • Equipment pickup considerations

  • Implement engineering controls if needed 

  • Implement administrative controls if needed

  • Need for Personal Protective Equipment

Even though the resource guide from the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council was created by those in the electric industry, the guide is a helpful resource for any utility. Keep in mind that if you need mutual aid through the MPUA program, having workers do their jobs while distancing from others will be crucial.

 

FEMA Announces Free Access to GIS Software (March 31, 2020)

The Department of Homeland Security has an Enterprise License Agreement with the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) that allows DHS/FEMA the ability to extend that agreement to our governmental partners during an “incident of national significance.” Therefore, state, local, tribal and territorial governmental entities can now obtain free access to ESRI software solutions for up to six months to help them respond to COVID-19.  ESRI provides geographic information system (GIS) software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications.

 

For those who would like to take advantage of this opportunity, choose “Request Assistance” in the red banner, and then select “COVID-19 Response Package” within “support options.” The package contains software, templates and suggested data schemas. For current Esri customers, you can also access free templates specific for the COVID-19 response.

 

Pandemic Mutual Assistance Checklist

This checklist, provided by the Electricity Subsector Security Council, was designed for host and responding investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives guidance on how to conduct mutual assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this resource is designed for the electric industry, it is a helpful planning document for all utilities. 

 

Sunshine Law Requests During COVID-19 Closures(March 24, 2020)

Last week, Missouri’s Attorney General issued guidance on how to handle sunshine requests during shutdowns.

 

Update Your Customers on Reliable Utility Service

People are anxious during this time. It is important to get ahead of the misinformation on social media and continue to report to the general public the safety of your drinking water and reliability of the essential functions, like electric service, to the community.  Please see the media release provided by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

 

Emergency Continuity Plans

An Emergency Continuity Plan’s end goal is maintaining solid operations  financially, managerially, and functionally, during and after any incident. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, a solid continuity plan will assist leaders and employees to prioritize daily functions that continue to provide essential services to customers. The example provided from  Orange County Florida provides direction for an emergency with little or no warning . Additionally, it may be a good time to update standard operating procedures for your utilities. This will be very helpful if another operator must run an unfamiliar system for a period of time.

 

Emergency Planning & FEMA Accounting Resources

We urge you to review emergency plans especially when it comes to staffing and supplies to ensure reliable service during this COVID-19 event. Please coordinate readiness efforts with your local health department and emergency management office.

 

For those utilities who are experiencing additional expenses for COVID-19 preparations, think about ways you are tracking these expenses. In the event that federal dollars for emergency preparations become available, it is best to start tracking the money sooner rather than later. For those who need more training for staff on emergency planning and accounting, the American Public Power Association has recorded webinars available for a fee.

  

Emergency Staffing Requests for Mutual Aid (all utilities)

Missourians are known across the nation for their willingness to help other communities in their times of need. However, if there are widespread Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the region, there might not be staff available to help. MPUA will continue to collect Mutual Aid requests during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, due to the voluntary nature of the program, city utility operations should take preventative steps to keep their own staff protected. If a utility decides to respond to a Mutual Aid event, these voluntary workers will need to have accommodations for keeping their distance from others. For example, work order communications might need to be done via phone to protect staff from coming in contact with others.

 

While the MPUA Mutual Aid program is most often used for linework, the agreement does cover water and wastewater work. If your community needs a certified drinking water, distribution, or wastewater operator, please contact  Lacey Hirschvogel with MPUA to begin the mutual aid process. Make sure to include with your request the type of operator and the necessary certification level needed to comply with regulatory requirements.

 

MPUA Operations

Ensuring Continuity of MPUA Operations

As many utilities are doing across the nation, MPUA has implemented measures in order to maintain the wellness of our staff and our members. The critical 24/7 electric and natural gas operations area of the office still has restricted access. Business continuity plans are being reviewed and updated as needed. 

 

Protections for MPUA Electric & Gas Supply Operations

As a routine practice, MPUA has built-in redundancy and resiliency plans as a part of our power supply operations. This includes a hardened workplace for scheduling and tagging operations, and sufficient shift staff for routine operations. We are following all recommendations and safeguards to ensure the health of staff and business operations, especially staff involved with critical electric and natural gas operations.

 

Currently, power supply operations are normal. Our regular daily plant calls indicate that power plant operators are taking the steps necessary to mitigate the impact of the current crisis on plant operations. Our regular communications and data submissions with Regional Transmission Organizations is unaffected.

 

Federal and State of Missouri Legislation

MPUA Requests Low-income Utility Assistance from CARES Act Expenditures

On May 22, MPUA sent a letter to Governor Parson and State Treasurer Fitzpatrick requesting that $103 million in state allocated federal monies be set aside for utility delinquent accounts. The letter requests that the Governor’s informal working group tasked with making recommendations for the use of federal funding provided for COVID-19-related costs under the CARES Act consider setting aside a portion of the funding for low-income customer utility expense as a means of assisting in the continuity of essential utility services needed to girder economic development in the State.

 

MPUA and AMCA team-up to write letter to Governor Parson

MPUA along with the Association of Missouri Cleanwater Agencies, teamed up to urge Governor Parson to set aside $30 million to pay delinquent public utility water and wastewater accounts. This letter responds to a change in the US Treasury’s guidance on Monday, May 4, 2020 about the use of CARES funds for this purpose. While the CARES Act funds cannot be used to replace revenues, the funds can go toward the creation of a grant program for individuals struggling from the crisis.

 

MPUA engages with Congress on the impact of the COVID-19 Crisis

On May 14, 2020, MPUA sent a letter to the eight Congressmen and two Senators from Missouri. We detailed the impacts our municipal utilities are experiencing from the COVID-19 crisis and steps we recommend that could alleviate the financial burden and economic hardships felt by Missouri’s utilities. In response to our letter, the Heroes Act, passed by the House, included $1.5 billion for a new program to assist ratepayers who are unable to pay their water and wastewater bills. The program is modeled after the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The bill has not yet been passed by the U.S. Senate.

 

Missouri CARES Act Funding (May 11, 2020)

The State of Missouri received $ 2,083,701,913 in CARES Act funding, where 25% of the State’s funding went to counties for local government disbursements. MPUA encourages members to contact your county officials as federal guidance now clarifies that the monies can be used to subsidize customer unpaid accounts or underwrite customer uncollectable accounts.

 

The federal government has updated guidance on the uses for the available funding for the CARES Act: Coronavirus Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions Updated as of May 4, 2020. (MPUA highlighted questions that have been asked by members.) The guidance clarifies when the money can be used for utility payments.  “Fund payments may not be used for government revenue replacement, including the replacement of unpaid utility fees.  Fund payments may be used for subsidy payments to electricity account holders to the extent that the subsidy payments are deemed by the recipient to be necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency and meet the other criteria of section 601(d) of the Social Security Act outlined in the Guidance.  For example, if determined to be a necessary expenditure, a government could provide grants to individuals facing economic hardship to allow them to pay their utility fees and thereby continue to receive essential services.” 

 

It is MPUA’s understanding that the local government money can be used to make sure that local utilities are getting paid for the services provided to customers that are unable to pay their utility bills. Each county should have received their allotted funding amount in their bank account this past week.

  

MPUA is working at the State level to discuss utility uses for the CARES Act funding that was not allocated for local governments but can be used per the same guidance. The updated May 4th guidance answers frequently asked questions to supplement Treasury’s Coronavirus Relief Fund Guidance for State, Territorial, Local, and Tribal Governments, dated April 22, 2020.

 

EDA CARES Funding Includes Broadband Deployment for local governments 

The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced that broadband deployment was among the things for which local governments could utilize EDA’s $1.5 billion in CARES Act funding. Application information for the EDA assistance can be found here. EDA investment priorities can be found here and broadband is listed under Critical Infrastructure. The money is in addition to the $200 million in CARES Act funds earmarked for an FCC COVID-19-related telehealth program and USDA Rural Utility Services’ CARES Act funding for the Telemedicine/Distance Learning and Broadband ReConnect Loan/Grant programs.

 

US Environmental Protection Agency – COVID-19 FAQ 

The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a Coronavirus - Frequently Asked Questions pageThe information is divided into six categories: Disinfectants 1. Drinking Water 2. Grants 3. Indoor Air 4. Questions from State, Local, and Tribal Leaders 5. Wastewater and Septic Systems 6. Waste

 

Governor Extends State of Emergency and Announces Recovery Plans (April 29, 2020)

As the state prepares to move into the economic recovery phase of COVID-19, Governor Mike Parson signed Executive Order 20-09 extending the state of emergency in Missouri through June 15, 2020. Additionally, on April 27, Parson announced the first phase of the “Show Me Strong Recovery” Planoutlining how Missouri will gradually begin to reopen economic and social activity on Monday, May 4, 2020. During phase one of the plan, citizens may begin returning to economic and social activities but must adhere to social distancing requirements. Additionally, all businesses can be open provided that the social distancing guidelines set forth in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’new health order are followed. Some businesses will be required to take additional precautions to protect their employees and the public, such as occupancy limits. Local public health authorities are directed to carry out and enforce the provisions the MoDHSS health order by any legal means. The health order expires June 1 but may be extended to no longer than the Governor’s declared state of emergency.

 

Federal Guidance Released on State/Local Coronavirus Relief Funds (April 29, 2020)

The Treasury Department (Treasury) has released additional guidance on the use of $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to states as provided under the CARES Act, including a further explanation of necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency. As designed, some of this allocation will be set aside for certain local government expenses, including expenses of municipal utilities. A FAQ list from is also available.  A state plan will be forthcoming. Until, then MPUA encourages members to prepare for pursuing these funds. Of interest is Treasury’s explanation of expenses that qualify as facilitating compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures. According to Treasury, such expenses can include expenses to improve telework capabilities for public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions. It can also include the expense of providing paid sick and paid family and medical leave to public employees to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions. Public communication expenses; PPE, sanitizing products, and disinfection of public areas; technical expenses for mitigation; quarantining/sequestering expenses; and essential service payroll expenses not already budgeted due to changes related to COVID-19 emergency are all expenses potentially available. A one-pager developed by Ernst & Young intended to help utilities navigate the process of recovering costs COVID-19 costs from FEMA can also be helpful in requesting these funds from the state.

 

Small Business Administration's Program for Payroll and Utility Expenses Set for Funding (April 21, 2020)

A small business program that assists small businesses in making utility payments is set to receive more money after the program ran out over a week ago. MPUA members should encourage their commercial and industrial customers to apply for the program now if they have not already. The US Senate has approved $310 billion more into the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) after days of negotiation among key lawmakers of both parties and the Trump Administration. US House action should come shortly and then it will be sent to the President for his signature. The $475 billion coronavirus response bill not only re-funds the PPP and sets aside monies for smaller entities within the program, but provides $50 billion for SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and $10 billion for EIDL advance grants. The bill makes no changes to the Coronavirus Relief Fund for state and local governments, so that will be an ongoing issue for the next phase of recovery legislation.

 

Free Emergency Management Training Webinars

The TEEX Infrastructure Disaster Management and Recovery instructional team has developed four new webinar courses. These 1-hour webinars are at no cost to students. As part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium and home to the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center, TEEX has been leading homeland security training since 1998. 

 

Assessing Risk for Public and Private Services  https://teex.org/class/DMP112/ 

  • Course Description: This webinar will provide Public and Private Services staff and managers alike with an increased awareness of understanding risk and how utilizing a risk assessment process improves resiliency. The presenter will share best practices, methods, and practical experiences on assessing risk from an emergency management perspective. Topics: overview of Risk Assessment methodology, how to apply models in Emergency Planning, and Risk Assessment in dynamic environment 

Public Works Emergency Management and Continuity Planning  https://teex.org/class/dmp117/ 

  • Course Description: This webinar will provide Public Work Agencies with awareness level information on emergency management and continuity planning. The presenter will apply current and up to date information for Public Work staff that will help make sure Public Work Agencies are better prepared to handle any unintended consequences of COVID-19. Topics: pandemic operational best practices, considerations to maintain essential services, and supply chain considerations 

Ensuring Water and Wastewater Service During a Pandemic  https://teex.org/class/dmp141/ 

  • Course Description: This webinar will provide Water and Wastewater Utilities managers and staff with information to ensure continuity of water and wastewater services during a pandemic. The presenter will discuss current recommendations and best practices for water and wastewater utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic to mitigate impacts on utilities while continuing to provide essential services to the community.  This webinar will also describe steps that certain utilities have already taken to ensure the continuity of operations during the current pandemic. Topics: pandemic operational best practices, considerations to maintain essential services, and supply chain considerations 

CDBG funds available for PPE (April 15, 2020)

The Missouri Department of Economic Development has announced $13.6M in CDBG funds from the federal government to support COVID-19 response. The CDBG funds are part of over $57.7 million of HUD grants allocated to the State and individual communities. The State’s allocation will be allocated to non-entitlement areas, which include incorporated municipalities under 50,000 across the state. Projects could include, but are not limited to, providing critical supplies such as personal protective equipment for COVID-19 response.  For more information on the statewide response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit https://ded.mo.gov/coronavirus

 

The Department of Natural Resources suspended four rules now through May 15th (April 10, 2020) 

The State of Missouri suspensions can be found here. The four rule suspensions are due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements. See DNR’s full memo here.  

  • 10 CSR 10-6.250(3)(B) Asbestos Projects – Certification, Accreditation and Business Exemption Requirements- this temporary suspension allows professionals to continue operating with expired certifications to the extent they have met all other requirements of the rule 
  • 10 CSR 20-6.010(5)(G)3. Construction and Operating Permits – this temporary suspension removes the requirement to submit paper copies to reduce the handling of paper mail. Applicants are still required to submit electronically. 
  • 10 CSR 23-1.050(2)(A)3. Permittee Qualifications, Testing Procedures, and Permit Application - This temporary suspension allows the Well Installation Board to defer the in-person closed book test until a later time, provide an online, open book, non-restricted test in lieu of the closed book test, and subject to passage applicants may be granted an interim permit and begin work. This is only for well installation. 
  • 10 CSR 25-5.262(2)(A)3.A. Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste - This temporary suspension will reduce the burden on generators and allow them to register without mailing the original registration with original ink.  

Grant Opportunity from Department of Economic Development (April 6, 2020)

The Missouri Department of Economic Development announced on April 6th that it will receive $13.6 million in Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development to support the ongoing COVID-19 response. This money will be allocated to non- entitlement areas across the state, which include municipalities under 50,000 population. Projects can include, but not limited to, repurposing buildings into patient treatment centers, providing critical supplies such as ventilators and PPE, supporting businesses that manufacture medical supplies, and training health care workers for the frontlines of the COVID-19 response. The State will also receive $19 million for the Emergency Solutions Grant program. Find more information here.

 

USDA Rural Development COVID-19 Resources (April 8, 2020)

USDA Rural Development has taken several immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Included in these actions are several loan deferral options to the agency’s guaranteed loan programs and an additional $25M for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. For more information on USDA Rural Development and immediate opportunities for RD customers impacted by COVID-19, see here. For information on RD loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions, and more visit here.

 

Governor Extends “Stay Home Missouri” Order (April 16, 2020)

Building on Missouri’s efforts to control, contain, and combat COVID-19, Governor Mike Parson extended the statewide “Stay Home Missouri” Order on April 16, 2020 through Sunday, May 3. Governor Parson’s Order includes an exemption for essential utility worker functions, as set forth in the U.S. Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity, & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance document. MPUA sent a letter to Governor Parson on March 31 requesting exemptions of “local government utility service workers and utility support businesses” similar to those outlined by CISA. In order to protect public health and prevent the further spread of COVID-19, specific guidance for staying home, social distancing, businesses and employees, schools, restaurants, firearm sales, and state government buildings were included in the order. Other Governor executive orders can be found here.

 

Local governments may exclude Public Works Personnel from FFCRA (April 3, 2020)

On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new temporary rule regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) passed by Congress in HR 6201, becoming Public Law No: 116-127 on March 18, 2020. The FFCRA applies to all public agencies (federal, state, and local governments) regardless of the number of employees they employ. However, local governments may exclude “ emergency responders,” which consist of several classifications, including public works personnel, and “persons with skills or training in operating specialized equipment or other sills needed to provide aid in a declared emergency, as well as individuals who work for such facilities and whose work is necessary to maintain the operation of the facility.” The rule provides employer flexibility that allows telework rather than leave where feasible. The law will be in effect until December 31. A limited stay of enforcement will be lifted by the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (USDOL, WHD) after April 17, 2020. Additional guidance and materials on the temporary rule can be found on the USDOL, WHD website page ( found here). This page includes additional fact sheets, a webinar, a field assistance bulletin, posters, FAQ notice, a Q/A document, and a full copy of the final rule.

 

Local Government FEMA Public Assistance Program (April 3, 2020)

FEMA is authorized to reimburse local governments for costs associated with “emergency protective measures” in respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses are emergency protective measures taken to response to the COVID-19 virus emergency. Local governments are eligible to apply for Public Assistance. FEMA assistance will be provided at a 75% federal cost share. Local governments will apply through their respective state jurisdictions.

Local governments should contact https://www.fema.gov/region-vii-ia-ks-mo-ne. Work with your Public Assistance representative to determine eligibility issues. Under the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration described above, FEMA may provide assistance for emergency protective measures including, but not limited to, the following, if not funded by the US Department of Health and Human services (HHS), CDC or other federal agency. While some activities listed may be eligible for funding through HHS or CDC, final reimbursement determinations will be coordinated by HHS and FEMA. FEMA will not duplicate any assistance provided by HHS or CDC. The following is but a partial list of qualified reimbursed expenses, for a complete list check here.

  • Management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety:

  • Emergency medical care:

  • Medical sheltering (e.g. when existing facilities are reasonably forecasted to become overloaded soon and cannot accommodate needs)

  • Household pet sheltering and containment actions related to household pets in accordance with CDC guidelines.

  • Purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine, and other consumable supplies, to include personal protective equipment and hazardous material suits.

  • Movement of supplies and persons.

  • Security and law enforcement.

  • Communications of general health and safety information to the public.

  • Search and rescue to locate and recover members of the population requiring assistance.

  • Reimbursement for state, tribe, territory and/or local government force account overtime costs.

DOE COVID-19 Energy Sector Frequently Asked Questions (April 1, 2020)

DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, & Emergency Response (CESER) released a list of frequently asked questions in regard to the current COVID-19 situation, in order to ensure unity of message across industry and government. These questions were gathered through RFIs submitted by industry, state and local officials, and through ESF-12 responders in the field. This document is also available from the DOE’s coronavirus hub and will continue to be updated going forward.

 

FERC’s COVID-19 Policy Statement (April 2, 2020)

With the COVID-19 pandemic creating questions with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulations, a policy statement was issued on April 2, 2020. FERC is involved with electric infrastructure, markets, reliability and security to ensure this critical service. This policy statement states that it will give the most attention to assuring reliability of electric service, addresses questions from utilities for business continuity of their systems, and that FERC “will expeditiously review and act on requests for relief, including but not limited to, requests for cost recovery necessary to assure business continuity of the regulated entities’ energy infrastructure in response to the national emergency.” They said they were taking steps to help regulated utilities manage their potential enforcement and compliance-related burdens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

MO Fiscal Year 2020 Expenditure Restrictions (April 1, 2020)

On April 1, 2020, the Governor provided the fiscal year 2020 expenditure restrictions. The greatest impacts are to education and natural resources. The Water Resources Multipurpose Fund has been impacted by the state of emergency we are currently experiencing. You can see the complete list of expenditure restrictions here.

 

Federal assistance available for Utility Customers (March 31, 2020)

With the passage of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) on Friday, utility service payments are included uses for much of the federal stimulus response for individuals and businesses. The following are some options that your utility can use to work with local customers:

 

Federal Low-Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

A major concern in the pandemic is the effect unemployment and the economic downturn will have on at-risk utility customers, including low-income households and seniors. To help these customers, Division B of the CARES Act provides $900 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. This $900 million comes in addition to monies already appropriated for FY2020. The act also provides that the additional funds could be spent through fiscal year 2021, but estimates are that additional funds will be nowhere near enough to meet demands this fiscal year, let alone last into the next. These monies can be accessed by customers by applying here. Completed applications should be mailed to your local  Community Action Agency found here

 

Small Business Administration programs

Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Loan Advance:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000, and this loan advance will have to be repaid. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, click here.

 

SBA Debt Relief:

The SBA Debt Relief program will provide and reprieve to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis. Under this program:

  • The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020.

  • The SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months.

SBA Express Bridge Loans:

Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000. This is a streamlined process can be used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. This loan will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan. For an Express Bridge Loan, contact: St. Louis Missouri District Office, 1222 Spruce St. suite 10.103,  St. Louis , MO 63103, 314-539-6600 or 500 East Walnut St. suite 103, Columbia, MO 65201, 573-382-1792

website: https://www.sba.gov/offices/district/mo/st-louis

email: stlouis@sba.gov

 

Paycheck Protection Program:

The Paycheck Protection Program was established for small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors.

Under this program:

  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.

  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.

  • If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.

Essential Utility Employees - Letter to Governor Parson (March 31, 2020)

MPUA sent a letter to Governor Parson today requesting that the Governor specifically identify local government utility service workers and utility support businesses as essential employees in future state orders.  Utility workers are working hard to provide the essential human health protections that minimize the spread of COVID-19. Safe drinking water for handwashing and reliable electricity powering our homes and hospitals is essential to support the resiliency of our communities. MPUA’s letter references and supports EPA's Administrator Wheeler’s national letter distributed to the Governors of the United States last week.   

 

Federal Legislative Response to COVID-19 (March 26, 2020)

Stimulus Provide Support for Essential Services 

The U.S. Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which contains $339.855 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to aid Americans during the coronavirus crisis. 

 

The wide-reaching bill includes a $1,200 one-time check for individuals who make up to $75,000. That amount would scale down until it reached an annual income threshold of $99,000, where it would phase out altogether. Families would receive $500 per child. These monies presumably should be spent on essentials, such as utilities. The White House is estimating that the checks could arrive as soon as 3 weeks from passage.

 

Several measures of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that could impact municipal utilities.  $350 billion was authorized for loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits to help pay for expenses like utilities, rent, and mortgages that maintain the existing workforce. The stimulus bill also included $454 billion for loans, loan guarantees, and investments in support of the Federal Reserve’s lending facilities to eligible businesses, states, and municipalities. Emergency appropriations adding $900 million to the LIHEAP program were also included in the legislation. $45 billion was added to the FEMA disaster relief fund for reimbursable costs for personal protective equipment, coordination of logistics, safety measures, and community services nationwide.  $100 million for USDA Rural Utilities Service monies were included for rural broadband deployment in areas with less than 10mbps down and 1mbps up.  There were no directives on utility shutoffs for nonpayment included in the bill.

 

Federal Lending for  Municipalities(March 24, 2020)

The Federal Reserve announced  March 23 steps to ensure that local governments have access to lending. The Federal Reserve would facilitate credit to municipalities:

  • By expanding the Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility (MMLF) to include a wider range of securities, including municipal variable rate demand notes (VRDNs) and bank certificates of deposit; and

  • By expanding the Commercial Paper Funding Facility (CPFF) to include high-quality, tax-exempt commercial paper as eligible securities. In addition, the pricing of the facility has been reduced.

Electric Sector Information

Updated Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council’s Resource Guide: Assessing and Mitigating the Novel Coronavirus (June 26, 2020)

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Guide for the electric power industry was updated on June 26, 2020. This living document was developed under the direction of the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council (ESCC), with participation from all segments of the industry and the natural gas sector. It provides information and options to consider when making localized decisions in response to the current global health emergency.

 

American Public Power Resources (March 24, 2019)

Water and Wastewater Information

DNR temporarily suspends certain water/wastewater operator certification requirements (May 6, 2020)  

On May 6, DNR suspended through June 15 the training-hour requirements for certified operators of public drinking water systems and wastewater systems whose certifications otherwise would expire. The action is to help mitigate some of the unexpected operational challenges created by the COVID-19 state of emergency. The rules are temporarily suspended pursuant to Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-09 and include 10 CSR 60-14.020(8)(C) and 10 CSR 20-9.030(4)(B). During the temporary suspension period certified operators of drinking-water and wastewater systems may renew their expiring certificates without obtaining the minimum amount of renewal training that otherwise would be required so they can continue providing their professional services.  

 

 

Can wastewater inform local officials about the presence of COVID-19?

The short answer is that it is too early to know. A paper pre-published by Wu, et.al (2020) describes the scientific approach a team from Biobot Analytics, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT,) Harvard University, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, used to test wastewater for the presence and levels of SARS-CoV-2. The results of the paper indicate that wastewater-based epidemiology can be used to test for population level prevalence of COVID-19 (Wu, et.al, 2020). The information gathered from studying the presence of wastewater can be used to inform local officials to determine if preemptive health measures are necessary such as social distancing measures or a city-wide shut down. While the results from the study are hopeful and moving toward gaining greater knowledge of the virus, more information is needed to make a scientific determination on the correct methods to be used to detect SARS-CoV-2. The Water Research Foundation is hosting a virtual summit on this subject April 27, 2020. 

 

EPA & DNR’s Temporary Enforcement Policy (April 22, 2020)

Both EPA and DNR have issued statements temporarily waiving regulations or policies. MPUA strongly urges communities to document every instance that COVID-19 is the reason of necessary noncompliance. If you cannot comply with a certain permit requirement or environmental regulation, contact your regional office and document why COVID-19 is the reason for non-compliance. No safe-drinking water requirements are currently being waived by EPA or DNR, as drinking water is essential for hygiene practices that fight viruses.  The DNR statement can be found here and the EPA statement here.

 

Center for Disease Control: Guidance for Workers Handling Sewage – COVID-19 (April 8, 2020)

The CDC provided guidelines for workers who handle human waste or sewage. They have stated that these workers may be at increased risk of becoming ill. For more information, visit the following link here. To reduce this risk and protect against illness, the following personal protective equipment is recommended for workers:

  • Goggles: to protect eyes from splashes of sewage
  • Protective face mask or splash-proof shield: to protect nose and mouth from splashes
  • Liquid repellent coveralls: to keep off clothing
  • Waterproof gloves: to prevent exposure
  • Rubber boots: to prevent exposure to human waste or sewage

News Release to remind the community to only flush the three P’s

MPUA has created a press release template to use. This will educate your community and mitigate the clogs that can occur from flushing things other than toilet paper.

 

DNR Operator Certification Information Regarding COVID-19 (March 31, 2020)

Missouri Department of Natural Resources has issued clarifying information related to operator certification issues that may occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information includes operator certification exams, renewal training, and maintaining staffing requirements.

 

Webinar on Legal Aspects of COVID-19 - American Water Works Association (March 31, 2020)

The American Water Works Association has scheduled a webinar on the legal aspects of COVID-19 for water utilities. Webinar registration is $50 for nonmembers and $20 for members. Learn from Randal Brown, Esq; General Counsel; Great Lakes Water Authority; Marcia Reuben; VP, Quality and Compliance; Inframark; and Andrew Stewart, Esq; Counsel; Sidley Austin LLP.

 

Infographic to display at your water and wastewater treatment plants

The Water Environment Federation created a nice and direct infographic to display at your water and wastewater treatment plants.

 

AWWA Offers Free Webinar on Sustaining Operations

The AWWA recorded webinar is designed to share practices that utilities throughout the nation have implemented to prepare and respond to COVID-19. The March 20 webinar details example contingency plans, alternative facility access, and supply chain conditions. Among the topics discussed are absenteeism, succession planning, facility access during containment/quarantine, supply chain – treatment chemicals, and building shutdowns/low flow -- guidance on post COVID-19 flushing and return to service for shutoffs. 


DNR's Water Protection Program's Response to COVID-19(March 25, 2020)

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued a March 24 guidance statement on how the Department will deal with regulated entities that have compliance difficulties because of the COVID-19 crisis. The Department has set up a special email box to accept such requests for regulatory relief. For information what should be contained in a request, see the  DNR’s guidance statement on their website. It is extremely important that a water and wastewater permittee stay in contact with your regional DNR office and document every occurrence during this time it a permit or compliance agreement cannot be met. For example, if a sampling activity requires two people to be in a boat to obtain an effluent sample, this activity may not be appropriate during this time we must practice social distancing. Contact your regional office, report the situation, and the Department is committed to working with you to determine the best path forward.

 

Plans for operator certification testing are still in the works at DNR. If you are in need of additional water, wastewater, or distribution certification credits, please see our  online training resource that is listed on this webapge

 

Drinking Water & Wastewater Online Training

For employees who do not have opportunities to attend in-person training, MPUA has online courses for you to keep up with your training requirements.

  • Online re-certification courses approved by DNR for Operator Certification Renewal

  • Employees may earn up to 24 hours toward Drinking Water Certification, 24 hours for Water Distribution Certification, and 25.5 hours for Wastewater Certification; all are voucher eligible.

  • Each course cost $20 for members and $25 for non-members.

Update Your Customers on Reliable Utility Service

People are anxious during this time. It is important to get ahead of the misinformation on social media and continue to report to the general public the safety of your drinking water and reliability of the essential functions of the community.  Please see the media release provided by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.


Educate the Community on Drinking Water Treatment Practices

According to the Center for Disease Control:  The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. The CDC, U.S. EPA and AWWA have all published web materials to reinforce this message:

 

Protections for water and wastewater operations

The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19. More details:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/water.html

 

For wastewater, the CDC is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available. At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems is thought to be low. However, it is recommended that wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices, practice basic hygiene precautions, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as prescribed for current work tasks. More details:  https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/sanitation/workers_handlingwaste.html

 

The public will have questions about the safety of their drinking water and sewer services due to the COVID-19 virus. Many utilities are providing talking points to staff and those that that handle customer service. In addition, a press release will assist with educating the media and public on the safety of drinking water and sewer utilities. Please see the example provided by  Hartford, CT and City Utilities of Springfield, MO .

 

Sample key message for water customers: Our utilities remain safe! There is no evidence that Coronavirus can be transmitted via drinking water. Our drinking water disinfection process continues to meet and exceed state and federal standards for virus disinfection.

 

Utility Industry Resources & COVID Health Resources

Utility Industry COVID-19 Resources:

• Great Lakes Water Authority

 Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis

 

Public Health - primary information

 

 

Featured Members

Sponsor

Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal