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GBWC updates community on actions taken during COVID-19

Great Basin Water Company is one of three utility providers in the Pahrump Valley, with approximately 5,700 water connections and 3,900 sewer connections, services upon which thousands in the local community rely.

In light of the the COVID-19 pandemic, the utility has had to alter its operations and it has been striving to keep area residents informed about what the company is doing throughout the public health crisis.

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we continue to adapt our operations to ensure we continue to provide safe and reliable service to customers, while keeping our employees safe,” an update from the utility stated.

That update outlined a variety of actions GBWC has taken in recent weeks in face of the global pandemic. First and foremost, the utility has been tracking and sourcing supplies of specific kinds of equipment, such as hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, eye protection and Tyvek suits, to ensure its employees are protected in the event that they are in close contact with others.

“Proper Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, totally depends on the situation. Our operators are not entering premises unless there is an emergency,” officials with the utility explained. “If there is an emergency, our operators have head to toe gear including face masks, full body suits, etc. For the most part, we are stringently following CDC guidelines including on physical distancing, disinfection, etc. Also, we have been sending regular communications to customers urging them not to approach or make physical contact.”

Distancing has also been implemented among the utility’s workforce itself. Workers’ schedules have been altered to allow for physical distancing, with a majority of employees working alone for the duration of their shift and checking in with managers on a regular basis to ensure worker safety.

“Tabletop exercises” are also being conducted in an effort to prepare for the possibility of a large portion of its staff falling ill. “In preparation for mass absenteeism in local operations, GBWC is performing tabletop exercises to work through theoretical planning scenarios involving widespread infection among operations teams and assessing current states of readiness,” the company’s update read.

Plans for the next steps are now being nailed down, including how to deal with accounts that have fallen behind on payment due to the financial strain the novel coronavirus has caused.

“In preparations for the potential increase in customers carrying unpaid balances as a result of the economic hardship caused by COVID-19, GBWC is preparing communications to customers regarding payment plan options in accordance with applicable regulatory directives,” the update detailed.

“With so many people out of work, rent payments, medical bills, mortgage payments, utility costs, etc. are all being prioritized differently by different households. We continue to suspend shutoffs and encourage people to stay current or at least make payment arrangements by calling 844-694-4404,” GBWC President Wendy Barnett told the Pahrump Valley Times.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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