In The Know – The Water Sector & Coronavirus

In The Know – The Water Sector & Coronavirus

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been making updates to keep citizens abreast of all information concerning coronavirus and its effects on drinking water and wastewater.

The Facts from WEF

  • To date, there is no epidemiological evidence of viable COVID-19 virus in wastewater systems.
  • It appears that contracting COVID-19 through exposure to wastewater is unlikely.

WEF is working to keep wastewater workers protected from disease causing microorganisms and pathogens by forming a Blue Ribbon Panel to address the issue of required PPE as well as protective work and hygiene practices.

The Facts from CDC

  • There is no evidence that coronavirus survives the disinfection process for drinking water and wastewater.
    • The virus has not been detected in drinking water
    • Risk of transmission through feces is expected to be low based on data from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses including SARS and MERS
    • Risk of transmission through sewerage systems is thought to be low
  • No coronavirus-specific protections are required for employees involved in wastewater management operations, including those working at wastewater treatment facilities.
    • Workers should follow their routine practices to prevent exposure to wastewater as they normally would. This includes using engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE that is typically required when handling untreated wastewater.
    • Water workers should continue:
      • Wearing appropriate protective gear including gloves, boots, goggles, or face shield masks
      • Washing hands frequently
      • Avoiding touching of the nose, eyes, and mouth

For more information specifically related to the water sector during the pandemic, visit the WEF website here.

The following resources are also available to the public:

  • WEF Executive Round Table Series – Round table discussions (on video) on how the virus is affecting operations, business, and people, as well as the impacts and future changes on the workforce, productivity, projects, communication, and more. Each round table will be hosted by Walt Marlowe, WEF Executive Director.
  • Biological Hazards Resource – Access Water, powered by WEF, has a manual on the Safety, Health and Security of Wastewater Systems. The chapter “Biological Hazards at Wastewater Treatment Facilities” is available for free, and the whole manual is being offered at 50 percent off its original price.
  • Assistance for Worker Safety – Several water sector partners have offered their assistance to WEF to provide products to protect and maintain the health of water sector workers. Interested in helping? Click here to get in touch with WEF to learn how you can assist.
  • Webinars – there are several webinars available surrounding coronavirus subjects and the effect on the water sector. View them all here.

Please keep in mind that as the nature of the virus evolves, so too does the information and resources. Be sure to check back on the WEF website for daily updates.

WEF Fellow Award Given to Tata & Howard’s James J. Courchaine at WEFTEC 2018 in New Orleans

WEF Fellow Award Given to Tata & Howard’s James J. Courchaine at WEFTEC 2018 in New Orleans

MARLBOROUGH, MA – Tata & Howard is pleased to announce that James J. Courchaine, Vice President and National Director of Business Practices at Tata & Howard, Inc., has been recognized as a 2018 Water Environment Federation (WEF) Fellow for his distinguished accomplishments and professional achievements in the global water environment.

2018 WEF Fellow Award

The WEF Fellows Program recognizes the expertise and professional achievements of members who have practiced in WEF service areas including design, education, operations, regulation, research, utility management and leadership.

Jim Courchaine has had a highly distinguished career with more than 47 years’ experience in the water quality environment and a long-term dedicated service for WEF and its member associations.  Jim was nominated for this award by colleagues around the country and was chosen for his professional achievements by a selection committee with final approval by the WEF Board of Trustees.

“He exemplifies the ideals of a WEF Fellow and is exceptionally deserving of this recognition,” stated Rajendra P. Bhattarai, P.E., DEE, WEF Fellow, in his letter of recommendation to the WEF selection committee. “He has an unfailing passion for furthering the advancement of the water quality profession and has worked tirelessly to help numerous water quality professionals throughout his long and illustrious career.”

“Jim’s vast knowledge and expertise is well-known in the water environment,” said Karen L. Gracey, P.E., Co-President at Tata & Howard, Inc. “He brings a unique perspective to the work we do and through his leadership, he has fostered enduring relationships with our clients. This recognition is well-deserved.”

Jenna Rzasa (l), Jim Courchaine (c), and Karen Gracey (r) at WEFTEC 2018 in New Orleans

T&H Co-Presidents Karen L. Gracey, P.E., and Jenna W. Rzasa, P.E., attended the WEF Awards and Presidential Celebration ceremony honoring Jim and all the WEF recognition recipients at WEFTEC 2018. WEFTEC is the largest conference and water quality exhibition of its kind in North America and offers water quality education and training.

For more information about the WEF Fellows Program, please visit:

Rhonda Harris Receives WEAT Lifetime Achievement Award

Rhonda Harris Receives WEAT Lifetime Achievement Award

T&H Vice President recognized by Water Environment Association of Texas for contributions to the water environment

Rhonda Harris (l) receives the WEAT Lifetime Achievement Award from Jenny Hartfelder, President-Elect of the Water Environment Federation (r)

Tata & Howard is pleased to announce that Vice President Rhonda E. Harris, P.E., MBA, WEF Fellow, was awarded the Water Environment Association of Texas (WEAT) Lifetime Achievement Award during the awards luncheon at Texas Water 2017 held at the Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX on April 11, 2017. This prestigious award recognizes and honors an individual who has demonstrated continual and tireless contributions toward the improvement of the water environment throughout a long and distinguished career in the wastewater treatment industry and in WEAT and WEF. The award goes to a person of proven preeminence in WEAT activities and who has held positions of leadership in the WEAT organization.

“Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from WEAT is truly an honor,” stated Ms. Harris. “WEAT has demonstrated a longstanding dedication to the protection of the water environment as well as support and commitment to water environment professionals. My time and experience with the organization has been a true pleasure, and I am humbled by their recognition. I look forward to many more years with this incredible organization.”

About Rhonda Harris

Rhonda Harris has over 40 years of experience in managing and administering a variety of facilities and programs in the water environment industry. Ms. Harris is a licensed Texas Class “A” Water and Class “A” Wastewater Operator, and an approved operations trainer in Texas. Her experience includes development and implementation of technical training programs for operations personnel, and authoring and implementation of regulations/rules for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She has extensive experience in design, construction, management, and management consulting for public and private water sector, worldwide.

Ms. Harris joined the Water Pollution Control Federation and the Texas Water Pollution Control Association in 1982, while still a student at the University of Texas at Arlington. She was on the steering committee to create the North Texas Section of TWPCA in 1983 and was active in getting the section approved at the WPCF meeting in 1984 in New Orleans. She became the membership chair for TWPCA in 1985 and was elected a director representing TWPCA on the WPCF Board of Directors in 1989. She served on the board through the name change process to the Water Environment Federation and the Water Environment Association of Texas. She served on the WEF Executive Committee (now called the Board of Trustees) from 1992 to 1993.

In 1994, Rhonda was elected vice president of WEAT and served as president from 1996 to 1997. She was a leader on the original cask force that created the Texas Water conference, which is now the largest regional water conference in North America. She served as exhibits chair from 2003 to 2013, during a period of extreme growth for the conference exhibits. Rhonda was also elected vice president of WEF in 1996 while serving as president of WEAT. She served as president of WEF from 1998 to 1999. As past president, she was instrumental in creating the Water Associations Worldwide, an international forum of the major global water associations, and served as its convener for the first three years of its ten year existence. Rhonda was elected as a member of the International Water Academy, a forum of the top 500 water professionals worldwide, in 2000. In 2001, she received an Honorary Membership in the American Waterworks Association. She served as the chair of the Executive Committee for IWRN from 2008 through 2012, and is still a member emeritus on the Board.

Currently, Rhonda is a director on the Board of the Water Technology Acceleration Project (WaterTAP), a provincially funded organization in the province of Ontario, Canada, to assist new water technologies to market. In addition, she serves on the Board of Advisors for the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington. With 35 years of active membership in WEF and WEAT, she continues to actively mentor young professionals in the water sector.