Watercare releases its pandemic plan to help other utilities prepare for future events

Watercare, New Zealand’s largest water and wastewater utility, has released its interactive pandemic plan under the Creative Commons license (CC BY), with the aim of helping other utilities and large organisations anywhere in the world better prepare for future pandemics. Releasing the plan under the Creative Commons license (CC BY) means that any organisation can adapt, implement and distribute the plan so long as they work within the parameters of the license.

The interactive plan, which Watercare began developing when the country went into its first COVID-19 lockdown, was designed from scratch, utilises the learnings and developments made, and has been thoroughly tested in the New Zealand utilities environment.

“We believe we’re one of the few organisations anywhere in the world to share a pandemic plan in this way. We have designed this plan to be easy to roll out, easy to adapt to different contexts, and easy to use when responding to specific challenges presented by future outbreaks,” says Watercare acting chief financial officer Nigel Toms.

“We are confident that making the plan available to other organisations will help raise pandemic preparedness levels to a new standard.”

“We’ve designed the plan to cover all areas of the business because by their very nature pandemics are unpredictable on many levels — severity, nature of impact and the groups within a population that might be affected. This plan establishes a framework for action that can be modified and implemented in any pandemic, regardless of the specific nature of the pathogen causing the pandemic or its impact on the population.”

As a lifeline utility providing Aa-graded drinking water and efficient wastewater services to 1.7 million Aucklanders every day, Watercare is classed as an essential service, so having a robust plan and being prepared for pandemics is vital.

Watercare’s pandemic plan is a rich resource and comes packed with content and recommended actions that will guide organisations as they respond to different situations. To aid development, the plan includes sample documents and downloadable templates.

“It has been developed to function as a living document that will be reviewed and revised regularly. We intend on releasing further iterations of the plan to a global audience on an ongoing basis. One thing COVID-19 has taught us is that our day-to-day environment can change at a moment’s notice, so it’s important that the plan can be easily adapted,” says Toms.

The plan is housed under the reports and publications section on the Watercare website or can be downloaded here.