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COVID-19 Preparedness Response

Mar 23, 2020

UPDATED 3/23

*Important* In light of the continuing COVID-19 crisis we are extending our policy of suspending disconnections and late fees until further notice. No customers will be denied essential water, wastewater or energy service.

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At the Corix Group of Companies, which includes Utilities, Inc. of Florida, the health and safety of our employees, customers, and communities is our top priority. This commitment guides our efforts to mitigate any public health or business impacts the COVID-19 outbreak may cause as we continue to provide safe and reliable water and wastewater services.

Core to our COVID-19 response is the creation of a company-wide Incident Command Task Force, charged with planning and executing the recommendations, actions, and protocols below. As this is an evolving situation, please continue to refer to this webpage for updates.

COVID-19 and Water and Wastewater

We are continually monitoring and following directives from primary public health authorities – the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada, and the World Health Organization (WHO) – for any new guidance on water and wastewater treatment protocols. These authorities have declared:

 •  A source of clean, reliable water for drinking and personal hygiene is considered a fundamental necessity in the fight against COVID-19.
 •  According the World Health Organization(WHO) there is no evidence COVID-19 is transmitted through drinking water or sewage.
 •  Water treatment and handling protocols used in North American water and wastewater plants are highly effective against biological pathogens. 

For further information about COVID-19 and drinking water and wastewater, please refer to this statement from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).

Our Water Treatment Protocols

 •  All our systems are regulated by state, provincial, and/or federal water agencies. We continually meet or exceed established regulatory requirements with regards to water treatment and testing.
 •  Most of our systems source their water from deep underground wells.
 •  We use treatment protocols (including filtration and chemicals, such as chlorine, if required) to address any pathogens present in source water before it is distributed to customers.
 •  Our systems operators and field workers follow strict protocols in their operation of water and wastewater systems. This includes the mandatory use of protective gear and clothing, which is highly effective against the transmission of water-borne pathogens.

Company-Wide Actions

Our Incident Command Task Force has mandated the following company-wide actions:

 • Suspension of Customer Disconnections and Late Fees
In recognition of the essential services we provide, we have suspended disconnection and late fees as of March 10, 2020. Release here.

 • Remote Work
Remote work has been identified as core to the company’s Social Distancing practices, and all staff able to work remotely are doing so as of March 16, 2020.

 • Customer Contact Centers
Our customer contact centers are fully operational, but longer than normal hold times may occur during the current conditions. Please bear with us as we work through all inquiries. We appreciate everyone’s patience during this rapidly evolving and unprecedented situation.

 • Office Closures
We remain fully operational and performing routine maintenance to ensure our systems are functioning normally, however, all our offices are closed until at least March 30, 2020. If you need to deliver something to one of our offices, please call/email first to arrange delivery or make alternate arrangements.

 • Facility Emergency Action Plans
We are reviewing and updating our Emergency Action Plans to ensure appropriate measures are taken to safeguard employees and customers should one of our employees test positive for COVID-19. No infections have been reported to date.

 • Critical Inventories and Spare Parts
Chemicals and critical spare parts inventories are being assessed to ensure supplies are on-hand to maintain essential business operations.

 • Staffing Continuity
Essential job functions are being identified to prepare for potential large-scale absenteeism in our workplace.

 • Business Travel
We have suspended all business travel until further notice. This suspension does not include essential operational and field activities that can be performed using recommended social distancing measures and established workplace health and safety protocols.

 • Resource Sharing with other Water Service Providers
We have been reaching out to neighboring private and public water services, to recommend system operator and field technician sharing assistance should either become subject to staffing shortages.

UIF takes pride in providing the communities we serve with safe and reliable water and wastewater services. We are taking the appropriate, science-based actions to mitigate the impacts the COVID-19 on our employees and customers. We are committed to the global effort to protect public health and ask that you do your part as well. Thank you.

Should you require more information regarding this notice, please reach out to us via phone at (866) 842-8432 or via e-mail at customerservice@myuiflorida.com.

 

No Wipes in the Pipes!

Mar 15, 2020

Disinfectant wet wipes, paper towels and toilet paper are flying off the shelves. These products help keep us clean and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But when we remember that products like baby wipes and wet wipes are not as “flushable” as typically advertised, it’s no surprise that we’re now at a greater risk for sewer blockages in our communities.

If TP isn’t available, it’s easy to reach for an alternative – but keep in mind these wipes need to stay out of our pipes, period. Keep a bin next to the toilet for disposal! Do with wet wipes what you’d do with a baby’s diaper or other hygiene products.

When “flushable” wipes enter your plumbing system, they don’t disintegrate like regular ol’ toilet paper. They often hold together better than a paper towel and they require more water to travel the distance from inside your house to the buried sewer lines outside. At some point in this journey, you’re going to get a clog! If wipes survive the trip to the water treatment plant, they just clog up the giant pumps there, creating even bigger problems.

So now that we’re never flushing our wet wipes again, are you wondering what else doesn’t belong down the drain? Read this quick list of items we’re all guilty of tossing… Now here’s to helping our pipes stay clog-free.

  1. Q-Tips and cotton balls – They will never disintegrate like TP, so don’t flush ‘em.
  2. Feminine hygiene products – Pads and tampons are meant to absorb liquids, not break down in them. They are never safe to flush.
  3. Dental floss – Floss might look harmless, but this stuff is tough. It can create a net when it’s swishing around in your pipes and wrap around parts of your septic system, even burning out the motor.
  4. Diapers – No no no no no! Diaper pails exist for a reason.
  5. Condoms – They’re designed to never break down in water. Put it in the trash.
  6. Medication – Toilet water doesn’t break down the prescription drugs you flush, meaning that whatever you’re taking will end up in the environment. Throw into the trash or return it to a pharmacy.
  7. Kitty Litter – Some cat litter brands advertise as being flushable, but don’t believe the hype. All it does is make water more difficult to purify on the other end.
  8. Cigarettes – Ciggie butts are full of chemicals! Don’t smoke them and don’t flush them.
  9. Hair – When flushed, hair acts like dental floss and creates a net that gets caught on everything. Plus, it never dissolves in water, no matter how long its there.
  10. Bleach – It’s too harsh of a chemical to use as a part of your routine cleaning, try getting toilet stains out with vinegar instead.

And of course, no fats, oils or grease, either! But more on that later.


UTILITIES INC. OF FLORIDA ANNOUNCES SUSPENSION OF WATER SHUTOFFS

Mar 11, 2020

Delinquent Accounts Will Not Be Cut and Suspended Accounts Restored 


Altamonte Springs, FL.
– Gary Rudkin, President of Utilities, Inc. of Florida, has announced that the company will be suspending water service shutoffs for delinquent payments in all its service territory effective immediately. Additionally, the company will begin reconnecting service to those customers who are currently not receiving water service due to lack of payment on delinquent accounts.

 “As a public utility, we understand our obligations to the communities we serve including the personal safety of our neighbors through personal sanitation,” said Rudkin. “We know a safe and reliable source of potable water is vital for hand washing, surface cleaning, and all other measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.”

Utilities, Inc. of Florida customers impacted by this decision will be notified as quickly as possible and reconnections will begin promptly. Rudkin indicated that the policy will remain in effect until at least March 30 and will be reevaluated at that time considering the prevailing COVID-19 conditions.  Customers who are behind on their bills are encouraged to bring them current or discuss their options with customer service as the suspension of shutoffs is only temporary. 

“Maintaining service to our customers is a simple decision for us as we encourage everyone to follow the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to protect themselves and their families,” Rudkin added. 


UIF Begins Beautification of Eagle Ridge Facilities

Jan 22, 2020
Altamonte Springs, FL – Utilities, Inc. of Florida (UIF) is pleased to announce plans to beautify its wastewater treatment plant in the Eagle Ridge community of Fort Myers, FL. Investments in the Eagle Ridge project include the installation of a new 9-foot privacy fence with gate, removal of invasive vegetation and replacement with native vegetation, in conformance with Lee County code, and the installation of a new irrigation system to support newly installed foliage. These investments have been in collaboration with the Eagle Ridge Property Owners Association and Lee County and will provide residents additional visual buffer from the treatment plant, more efficient plant operations, as well as a more pleasant exterior to the community.

“We are excited about the upcoming improvements to the Eagle Ride treatment facilities and look forward to continued partnership with the Eagle Ridge community and Lee County.” commented new UIF President Gary Rudkin. “The appearance of our treatment plants is important to us, because many of them are located inside our customers’ neighborhoods.” Rudkin added.

The Eagle Ridge improvements exemplify UIF’s commitment to build, maintain, and manage the complex infrastructure necessary to provide reliable service to the residents of Florida. Coupled with the improvements to UIF’s Seminole County facilities completed in 2018 and 2019, they improve the ability to provide water and wastewater services in conformance with current and future environmental regulations as well as leverage more technologically advanced infrastructure for the benefit of UIF’s customers.

For photos and ongoing information about the project please visit our social media pages: www.facebook.com/MyUIFlorida and www.twitter.com/MyUIFlorida.

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Gary Rudkin Named President, Utilities, Inc. of Florida

Jan 13, 2020
Gary Rudkin has been named President of Utilities, Inc. of Florida. effective January 13, 2020.

Catherine Heigel, Executive Vice President and COO of Corix Regulated Utilities, said, “I am excited to welcome Gary to our team. He is a proven leader with a strong track record of building teams that drive results and enhance relationships with customers.”

Rudkin has more than 28 years of experience in utility and industrial project management and operations and maintenance. He was most recently President of Corix Utilities in Norman, Oklahoma, where he oversaw the utility operations serving Oklahoma University.

Rudkin said, “I am honored and energized by this opportunity to assume leadership of Utilities, Inc. of Florida. I look forward to working closely with our team members to provide safe, reliable water and wastewater services and to engaging with our customers and stakeholders.”

Rudkin replaces John Hoy who announced his retirement after serving the company for 14 years.

Click to download the press release PDF

Statement Regarding PFOA/PFOS

Dec 06, 2019

At Utilities, Inc. of Florida we are committed to providing safe, reliable and cost-effective water and wastewater services that ensure the ongoing health and safety of every community we serve. Ongoing industry-standard testing of our processes and products helps us meet that goal.

Results of the regular testing required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state regulatory agencies are made available to customers each year in Consumer Confidence Reports found on our website. Each of our systems publish test results with comparisons to the EPA established Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) standards. We are proud of our record of compliance with federal and state health and environmental regulations to date and intend to keep that record intact.

Two compounds that are not currently regulated by the EPA, PFOA and PFOS, compounds created in the 1930s and used widely in consumer and commercial applications (e.g., Teflon), are among a class of synthetic chemicals (known as perfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS) that accumulate over time in the environment and our bodies. Studies are ongoing regarding the potential contaminative effect of these chemicals. We are taking proactive steps to address the issues surrounding them in anticipation of new regulations at the federal and/or state level.

These steps begin with an evaluation of all systems of greatest potential impact and an immediate plan for the best way forward. This plan includes:

  • Evaluating the use of various raw water sources required to meet volume demands coupled with additional steps to understand the relative importance of each source in overall system operation;
  • Making prudent capital investments as necessary;
  • Reviewing and evaluating related operational expenses where necessary; and
  • Modifying or removing sources of raw water supply.

Developing this plan for all our systems is ongoing and complex, necessitating coordination with various local, state and federal stakeholders. While we believe the costs of any remediation actions should be borne by the polluters, we are committed to addressing the issue proactively and look forward to the EPA and state agencies issuing clear and firm guidance that allows us to target our activity.

Our goal is to maximize the use of our resources to the greatest benefit of the communities we serve in the most cost-effective manner possible while ensuring the delivery of safe and reliable service to all our customers.  

For more information visit: https://www.epa.gov/pfas