With Autumn here and daylight diminishing, it's important to step up your safety game when walking on sidewalks, streets, and parking lots. This is especially true of annual celebrations like Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. When outside in the evening, wear light or reflective clothing, and use the light on your phones or carry a flashlight so cars can see you.

In addition to nights lengthening, many people are wondering how they can celebrate these holidays safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The San Mateo County Health website offers great tips here, such as social distancing guidelines and alternative ways to observe the holidays, from online parties or contests to home decorations.

Autumn also brings wetter weather (thankfully!), which means that wastewater agencies like ours must get the treatment facilities ready. We do not have a “combined sewer system,” which means that both sewage and stormwater enters the same pipelines. But there are inevitably small cracks in sewer pipes and even the little holes in manhole covers into which rain water can enter, thus increasing the flows we receive at the treatment plant. Since our wet weather season begins on November 1, we've already completed all the required preventative maintenance tasks, such as emptying tanks, cleaning and repairing them. We do this annually to ensure that when rainstorms come, SVCW is ready to treat the increased flows.

Readying for wet weather has been different this year because of our response to the coronavirus pandemic. SVCW staff are essential workers and during the past eight months, we’ve continued to meet our mission of protecting public health and the environment. I want to thank and give everyone on our team a huge round of applause for their tireless and dedicated service during this time, from the staff working remotely to those whose roles and responsibilities have required them to be onsite. I wish I could say their work--and the efforts of our community--to battle the pandemic are over, but we will be dealing with it for some time to come.

As the San Mateo County Health Officer, Scott Morrow, notes in his latest Health Officer Statement about the pandemic, "This remains far from over. To get out of this situation depends on all of us. Our collective best course of action: NO gatherings outside of immediate households, use facial coverings extensively, and social distancing.” He also recommended getting the flu shot for you and your family.

Please be safe and follow through with the actions needed to keep yourselves and your neighbors safe and healthy.