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#NeighborhoodHeroes: Coachella Valley Water District essential employees keeping water clean and safe

The Coachella Valley Water District and it’s essential employees are being highlighted as our neighborhood heroes.  Their crews are working every day to make sure that the water and sewer systems stay running so other essential employees and businesses like hospitals, grocery stores, emergency responders, and homes have critical services during these times.

Jim Barrett, the general manager at Coachella Valley Water District said, “We were formed by the community over 100 years ago to provide water-related services.” During the coronavirus pandemic, the need of clean and safe water is essential for the community. Katie Evans, the director of communications and conservation with Coachella Valley Water District said, “Not only do we need our water for normal hygiene purposes but with the increased washing of materials and supplies, increased handwashing increased hygiene type activities. All of those things require safe water.” This service, not only essential just to residents, but also to make sure life saving essential workers have one less thing to worry about. Evans added, “Hospitals need water, firefighters need water, in order to grow food, our farmers need water.”

The workers have adapted alternative ways to go about daily duties, keeping safety in mind. There is a new drive-up method being used to continue collecting and testing the water quality of the smaller communities in the East Valley, such as mobile home parks, that are not connected to the Coachella Valley Water District. Steve Bigley is the director of environmental services with Coachella Valley Water District. He said, “For our lab we are working an early shift for half our staff and a swing shift that ends at midnight for the other half of the staff. And that protects them and ensures we will always be able to provide those essential services.”

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There are many essential workers at the Coachella Valley Water District. Some of those employees are taking samples from the community and running tests in the labs at the facility in Palm Desert, others are monitoring things from the control room. Faustino Martinez, the control room crew chief with Coachella Valley Water District said they can get a range of calls anywhere from twenty to two-hundred depending on what is going on. Martinez said, “We can get anything from farmers calling in, domestic leaks, sanitation leaks.” He also added, they can also get calls about stormwater overflow during rain events. The system in the control room is operated through telemetry, it's all connected through radios. Martinez said, “And we do it all automated from this room. We are able to open valves, we’re able to move water.” There is a crew in the control room working 24/7 to make sure they never miss a call.

Barrett ended by saying, “Our employees are involved in keeping that water flowing to those faucets. Whether they are in an office, or in a shop, or the lab, or in the control room, or out in the field.”

News Channel 3’s Taban Sharifi will have a look into these employees tonight all new at 6 p.m.

Celebrating #NeighborhoodHeroes

While the coronavirus crisis is keeping us apart, we know the Coachella Valley community is still coming together to help each other. We are looking for those who are lending a hand during this uncertain time. Do you know of any everyday people who are going out of their way to help others? Have you seen someone find creative solutions to the new challenges we all face?

News Channel 3 wants to celebrate these neighborhood heroes. Tell us about them here. Enter HERE or email SHARE@kesq.com. If you see good happening on social media, share it with us, and tag it #neighborhoodheroes for us to see.

We are all in this together. Help us showcase the good that's happening right here in the Coachella Valley.

Kaiser recommends that those in the Coachella Valley who are elderly and have underlying health conditions, including individuals who are HIV positive, limit non-essential travel and avoid large public gatherings.

Health officials said anyone who thinks they might be experiencing symptoms of the virus and want to be seen at Eisenhower Health should call the hospital hotline first at 760-837-8988. Avoid the spread of this illness.
Residents with further questions can call 2-1-1 and 800–CDC –INFO (800 – 232 – 4636) with any questions.

Public health recommendations for all Riverside County residents during community spread:

Practice social distancing, which is remaining out of places where people meet or gather and avoid using public transportation, if possible.
Do not attend work, school or events when sick. Stay home.
Cough into your elbow or tissue.
Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer often.
Stay away from anyone who is sick.

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Taban Sharifi

Taban Sharifi is a Meteorologist and Reporter with KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News & Weather Leader. Learn more about Taban here.

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