Amherst’s Department of Public Works has announced changes and reductions in service in response to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, with the following statement.
Amherst Public Works’ top priority is the continuation of reliable delivery of drinking water and wastewater services, operations of the transfer station and continuation of maintenance activities throughout town. These are all critical to daily life and the public health system. Due to the novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Amherst Public Works is implementing several precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of essential Town staff as well as the public. These actions are intended to mitigate potential exposure to our employees and residents, and maintain continuity of operations. Amherst Public Works staff will continue to complete maintenance operations throughout the Town with the exceptions included herein. Therefore, residents may observe Public Works employees completing routine maintenance to ensure continuity of services including, but not limited to, the following:
- Street sweeping and roadway maintenance/pothole patching
- Sanitary sewer flushing and cleaning
- Mowing of fields, parks, cemeteries and commons
- Hazard tree removal and tree pruning
- Water meter reading
- Fire hydrant flushing
- Street light and traffic light maintenance
- Roadway painting
- Transfer Station operations
- Water distribution sampling
Amherst residents are reminded to follow public health protocols and maintain a safe social distance from any Public Works employee and their work location. Keep in mind that, depending on the operations they are completing at the time, Public Works employees may be wearing personal protective equipment to ensure the health and safety of the employee and the public.
In-person and Non-essential Services Suspended
Effective Thursday, March 19, 2020, the following non-essential Public Works services will be suspended until further notice:
- In-person payments of water or sewer bills at Amherst Town Hall (Payment of water and sewer bills can be delivered to the drop box located outside Amherst Town Hall.)
- In-person permit submission at Amherst Public Works Office (Submission of Public Works permits can be delivered to a box located in the atrium of the Amherst Public Works Office.)
- Routine in-home or on-site meter replacement
- Meter reading that involves entering a private residence (Note that most water meters are read from the exterior of buildings either by remote reading or via a touchpad located outside residences.)
- Amherst Transfer Station remains open for bagged trash, paper recycling and container recycling. All other collections are suspended due to the companies that receive the material being closed.
- We will continue to read water meters to record water usage to allow normal water and sewer bills will continue to be generated and delivered.
Public Works Operations
All operations related to the Public Works will continue. Customers can be assured that their drinking water is safe and can be consumed and used as normal. In order to reduce potential exposure to essential Public Works staff, business and public visitors to all Public Works facilities will be prohibited, and deliveries will be curtailed as much as possible until further notice.
Public Works Emergencies
Amherst Public Works priority is to maintain the continuous and reliable operation of the drinking water distribution and wastewater collection systems for the general population, as well as maintain safe access of public roadways. Public Works crews will continue to respond to any Public Works emergencies that arise in the Town, including water main breaks, sewer backups, and downed trees in the roadway to name a few.
Public Works emergencies on private property will be addressed on a case-by-case basis in as far as crews are able to address them either from the street or by referring the resident to private contractors. Amherst Public Works crews will not enter privately owned homes, buildings, or facilities until further notice.
Customer service representatives will continue to be available by telephone and email to assist residents with any Public Works questions. Residents should be prepared for possibly longer call response times, and should utilize email when possible. Public Works emergencies will be prioritized.
For inquiries or issues related to Public Works applications, repairs, inspections, maintenance, etc., residents and contractors can contact the Public Works office at 413-259-3050 x0 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For Public Works emergencies during business hours (Monday through Friday, 7:00am to 3:30pm), residents can contact the Public Works office at 413-259-3050 x0. For emergencies during off-hours or if no one picks up at the Public Works office during work hours, residents can contact Amherst Dispatch at 413-259-3000.
For water and sewer billing/accounting questions, customers can contact the Town Accounting Department at 413-259-3026 or email email@example.com.
Transfer Station and COVID-19
The Town will continue to keep the Transfer Station open to the public. The Transfer Station will only accept trash in pre-paid blue bags, paper recycling and container recycling. This change is due to facilities that receive other items collected at the Transfer Station shutting down. We also ask that residents minimize their time spent at the Transfer Station as follows:
- Minimize trips to the Transfer Station as much as possible to reduce the number of customers on-site at any time.
- Hold items that do not need to be disposed of right away – consider storing TVs, electronics, brush, furniture, mattresses, etc. for future disposal.
- Organize materials prior to arriving at the facility to minimize the time spent on-site. Have things presorted and ready to be disposed of.
- Do not linger at the Transfer Station, it is not a location to catch up with neighbors or friends.
Further information regarding the adjusted operations at the Transfer Station are listed on the Amherst website: https://www.amherstma.gov/civicalerts.aspx?AID=2569
Drinking Water Supply and COVID-19
According to a technical brief issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 3, 2020, COVID-19 has not been shown to be transmitted via treated drinking water. The drinking water system will remain safe and operational amid any local outbreak.
Wastewater Collection System and COVID-19
With reports of toilet paper shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and with increased cleaning of many touchable surfaces, Amherst Public Works reminds customers that wipes, paper towels, facial tissue, and other materials – even those that claim to be “flushable” – are not designated to break down in the wastewater treatment process. Flushing anything but toilet paper down the toilet can cause unsanitary sewer backups in a home or neighborhood.
Amherst COVID-19 Mitigation Efforts
The Town will continue to update residents on any further changes in services due to COVID-19. Residents can visit the Amherst website at www.amherstma.gov for the most recent updates. We strive to maintain the services that we provide but ask for understanding and cooperation as some delivery methods and availability change.