As the challenges and unexpected impacts of the COVID-19 virus continued to evolve and unfold in 2020, there were organizations working behind the scenes caring for some of our most basic needs.
One of those basic needs was continued access to safe and clean water, and Cathy Bernardino-Bailey and her team at Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) provided just that.
For months on end, many of our office buildings sat empty, uninhabited by the office workers who used to report in daily.
Those workers kept the water supply flowing through bathroom facilities and kitchen use but when COVID-19 hit the reduction in normal water usage created potential hazards for returning occupants. When buildings began to reopen with limited capacity, GCWW gave guidance to building management and owners on how to safely begin flushing their water lines before using the water in their businesses. But the GCWW team didn’t wait for questions to come to them, they quickly began sharing these important steps and tips via TV, radio, social media, press releases, word of mouth, and other communications outlets to ensure the messages were shared as much as possible.
To help those experience hardships during the pandemic, GCWW also introduced a unique payment processing plan for customers with delinquent bills. Customers could set up a convenient, flexible, and customized payment plan with a variety of payment methods (ACH, debit/credit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Venmo, etc.). Seeing success in other markets, GCWW focused on offering relief, particularly given the ongoing health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also giving GCWW an alternative process to receive payments so it could continue supplying the safe and high-quality water customers were used to.
However, some GCWW customers — the homeless population — do not pay for water at all but still need and deserve access to this life-saving resource. As many organizations began shutting down it quickly became apparent that this population would need a unique solution. GCWW partnered with two local agencies: Our Daily Bread and Tamar’s Center to provide people without homes clean drinking water. Within 24 hours of Our Daily Bread reaching out, GCWW installed a water board outside for the public to use.
The Health Collaborative is proud to honor Greater Cincinnati Water Works as a nominee for the 2021 Gen-H Award. The team’s continued focus on providing all customers with a plentiful supply of high-quality water during the pandemic was only possible through the hard work and unique approaches taken by its incredible leadership and staff.