Your Essential Water – Zac Bertz

What people are asking Zac Bertz, Water Treatment Plant (WTP) Coordinator, about COVID-19 and their drinking water:

What essential operational work is being performed during the pandemic crisis?

Pic of Zac Bertz
Zac Bertz, WTP Coordinator
• Operating the Joint Water Commission (JWC) Water Treatment Plant (WTP) to produce drinking water for over 380,000 people living and working in Washington County.
• Protecting public health by maintaining water quality and making sure that all water leaving the WTP is safe to drink.
• Monitoring instrumentation and processes in the WTP all day, everyday. There is ALWAYS a treatment-certified operator working at the JWC WTP 24/7, even during a COVID-19 crisis.

How are viruses, such as COVID-19, removed from my drinking water?

First, it’s important to know that the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water. However, viruses can be removed or inactivated in the filtration and disinfection treatment processes used by the JWC. We also add a small dose of chlorine at the end of the treatment process to ensure the water continues to be safe all the way to your tap. Finally, the JWC delivery system is completely sealed after it finishes the treatment process, so water travelling to your tap is never exposed to outside contaminants. 

What “waterwise” activities should customers be doing during this COVID crisis?

1. Staying calm, and not panic-buying bottled water. Water supplies are fine, and the WTP continues to treat and send safe drinking water to taps. Drinking plenty of water for good health is also a wise idea.
2. Washing hands a LOT. Hand sanitizer also works, but soap and water is very effective at killing Coronavirus. Lather hands for at least 20 seconds while singing, “This is the Way we Wash our Hands,” or another 20-second ditty.
3. Checking emergency water supplies to be ready for an earthquake or crisis that may affect community water supplies (unlike this one). The Red Cross recommends storing one gallon per day for each person or pet in the household – for up to a 14-day supply. Life straws and other small water filter devices are also handy in an emergency kit. 
Pic of JWC sign Zac Bertz has Water Treatment 4 (Highest), and Water Distribution 1 Certifications and a degree from Eastern Oregon University. He has worked at the WTP for 11+ years, and been in the water industry for 16+ years.