Municipal Water System Staffing Needs Resource Center

April 2, 2020

City officials across Georgia are continuing to provide critical services to residents and businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In a state where 75% of cities have a population of less than 5000, that often means cities are operating with a limited number of staff. Water is one of the most basic and essential public services, yet small cities that provide water service often have a limited number of water department employees. In Georgia, there are 286 cities with a population below 5,000 that provide their own water distribution, water supply, and water treatment. For jurisdictions that operate municipal water systems, GMA recommends implementing a backup plan as soon as possible in the event that your water personnel need support, and offers the following resources and suggestions:

  • Georgia Rural Water Association (GRWA) is prepared and available to assist if needed. Contact Jay Matthews at GRWA at
  • Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP) is available to provide cities with guidance and recommendations. Contact Mike Thomas, GAWP Member Relations & Leadership Development, Phone: 678-776-3955, Email:
  • APWA offers information and resources including webinars and a Coronavirus Resource Page. This link provides great resources related to public works service providers, especially for solid waste and water, with additional links to other associations and webinar registration info.
  • Contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to learn about federal funding opportunities. A chart with EPA funding programs is available here. The EPA Incident Action Checklist for Pandemic Incidents is here.
  • Refer to resources on the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) website including Responses to Questions about COVID-19 Implications for EPD’s Compliance and Enforcement. Stay in touch with your EPD District Office or representative for specific guidance.
  • Note that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued revised guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure on March 28 includes water and wastewater employees.
  • Consider establishing informal agreements with neighboring cities to provide mutual staff support as needed.
  • Consider establishing formal agreements through the Statewide Mutual Aid Agreement managed by GEMA. Cities that have signed on to the Statewide Mutual Aide Agreement may be able to obtain assistance from GEMA to make sure that any FEMA emergency grant funding is passed along to the agency providing the assistance.  
  • If possible, split personnel into staggered shifts.
  • Provide cross-training to water personnel.
  • Some larger cities are requesting key staff person(s) shelter in place at the plant so that they don’t interact with someone who has COVID-19 and they have brought in trailers for them to live in, bring in food, etc.

Back to Listing