The Florin Resource Conservation District (FRCD) last week announced that the Elk Grove Water District (EGWD) office will remain closed to the public.

The Elk Grove Water District is operated by the Florin Resource Conservation District.

FRCD General Manager Mark Madison last week told the Citizen that this decision was made as a further prevention against the possible spreading of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to employees and customers.

“That is due to the virus and the threat of the virus, and the consequences of what could occur if any members of our staff were to contract the virus,” he said. “I’m pleased to say that no members of the Elk Grove Water District, to the best of my knowledge, have been diagnosed with COVID-19.”

Madison referred to EGWD as one of the state’s “more forward-thinking agencies,” in regard to developing a plan to approach the COVID-19 crisis. The district’s COVID-19 Risk Minimization and Outbreak Response Plan was created as a supplement to its already established emergency response plan, which was approved by the FRCD board several years ago, Madison noted.

“We’ve been doing planning for something like this, although we never expected a pandemic in our emergency response planning measures,” he said. “This caught all of us by surprise. But by the same token, we have remained dynamic, and that has helped us in the community significantly.”

The Elk Grove Water District’s COVID-19 Risk Management and Outbreak Response Plan is a plan that includes approaching the reopening of the district’s office with much caution, while continuing to maintain essential services.

As states and counties develop strategies pertaining to reopening, the district has done the same through its Coronavirus Home to Office Playbook, which Madison referred to as a plan to “guide us down the mountain.”

“This is a four-step plan to return to normal, whatever ‘normal’ means,” he said. “I’m not sure if we know what normal means anymore. In that plan (are) precautionary measures (to assist in walking) back down the mountain.”

In that plan, the district is currently in the first step – stay-at-home portion – of that secondary plan. The district entered that stage in March.

Madison mentioned that the Elk Grove Water District is on a slow course to return to normal operations, and is behind the stages of California’s road map to reopening safely.

“We will go to Step 2 a minimum of two weeks after Sacramento County goes to Stage 3 of California resilience road map,” he said. “So, right now our office is closed to the public and most of our employees are staying at home. That will continue for some time. We do not know how long that will be, because I do not know when the county will go to Stage 3.”

At the time that the district enters its second step, its employees will return to the office, but the front service lobby will remain closed to the public. Payments will still be accepted electronically over the phone and through its drop box.

The customer service lobby will not reopen to the public until EGWD moves to Step 3 of its plan. This step will occur at least two weeks after the governor lifts the stay-at-home order. That two-week delay will occur as a means of waiting to know whether there is a resurgence in the virus.

Madison commented on the district’s decision to follow a slower course of action in its reopening plan.

“We are concerned about a resurgence of this virus,” he said. “We are already starting to see numbers in Sacramento County and associated counties elevate. It is vital that our district remain insulated from this virus.

“Our employees do not enjoy working from home. There’s a high desire to return to work, but we will only do so when we believe it’s safe. It could be disastrous for our workforce and the community that we serve. So, we are being very cautious.”

Madison stressed that EGWD wants their customers to know that their water supply remains safe and of high quality.

“The water remains exceptionally treated,” he said. “It certainly meets safe drinking water standards.”

Madison also mentioned that the district plans to issue a customer survey, which is intended to further develop the district’s return-to-work plan. That survey, which will seek answers regarding that plan, will be available in about two weeks.

The survey will be presented through the district’s website, and reminders will be issued through email and a bill insert, which will be sent on July 1.