Skip to Content

Planning for Pandemics Toolkit

How Are You Managing COVID-19?


Should your operator or other key personnel fall ill, how will your water or sewer system continue to operate?

Great Lakes RCAP's Pandemic Preparedness webinar explains how small water and sewer systems can develop a plan for pandemics and other illness-related emergencies.

The webinar (hosted live on March 16, 2020) can be viewed online. To access the webinar, please use the following password: 2BePrepared  

You can also download a PDF of the slides, prior to viewing the webinar.

OHWARN Covid-19 Mask Request

The Ohio Water / Wastewater Agency Response Network (Ohio WARN) has received a limited supply of washable, cloth masks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for distribution to water and wastewater facilities. Ohio WARN, in conjunction with Ohio EPA, ORWA, and ORCAP, is working to distribute the masks to Ohio Water and Wastewater utilities.

Due to the limited number of masks available, distribution is allocated at a rate of FIVE (5) face masks per utility full-time employee (FTE) with a cap of 250 FTE. If you are interested in obtaining cloth face masks, please complete this form. The form appears at the bottom of the page, along with points of distribution (PODs).

Distribution of these masks is on a first-come, first-served basis. Organizations are being asked to coordinate their response to ensure that only a single request is submitted per organization. For questions, please e-mail Ohio WARN or visit their website.

Notice to Operators (NPDES Reporting)

Ohio - Temporary Advisory for NPDES Reporting in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

In Ohio, if sampling cannot be completed, operators should utilize eDMR data substitution code “AH” (sample not taken) with a comment “COVID-19 Pandemic”. Please disregard the codes outlined in the US EPA NPDES memo.

Final Outfall Effluent sampling should be your highest priority. The greatest effort should be focused on it should there be sampling or staffing issues.

If your facility needs regulatory flexibility, OEPA needs you to make such a request formally through the email and guidance on this website:

There are five specific questions that need answered in each request.

OEPA continues to update Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water COVID-19 website. Several quick-links have been added to the page below:

Ohio HB 197

The Director of the Ohio EPA issued orders 3/31/20 regarding the reconnection of water service to customers whose water service has been shut off. The order and associated documents can be found at the following links:


Implementation Guidance 

Door Hanger



The items below are free to download and distribute. Look for additional resources as they become available.

Pandemic Continuity of Operations
Plan Template

Credit:  Philip Van Atta

Philip created the template as part of his Masters in Public Health thesis. He retired as Dayton's Manager of Water Supply & Treatment in Feb. 2017, and maintains his Class IV Water license.

External Resources


In response to growing concern over the global spread of the coronavirus that may reach the level of a pandemic outbreak, the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) has developed a Planning for Pandemics Toolkit for small water systems to help prepare for a pandemic. The toolkit includes informative flyers on the coronavirus and sanitation, as well as and a continuity of operations plan template that can be used to prepare for any pandemic (coronavirus, influenza, etc.).  

Although the continuity of operations plan is not currently required for water systems, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends water systems utilize the plan voluntarily. Having a continuity of operations plan in place will help water utilities manage issues that may arise as a result of a pandemic. According to American Water Works Association, water utilities should prepare for potential impacts to operations and to respond to customer inquiries about water safety during a pandemic.

In the event of a severe pandemic, workplace absenteeism would increase from illness, fear of infection, and a need for workers to care for sick family members. Specific to water utilities, workplace absenteeism could affect drinking water and wastewater system operators' capability to adequately operate and maintain systems, thereby increasing the risks to public health. Absenteeism would also affect workers from other essential and interdependent sectors such as transportation, power and chemical sectors, and could have an adverse impact on services such as delivery of chemicals and other essential materials and supplies. The continuity of operations plan template addresses these and other concerns