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WaterISAC Hosts Sector Coordination Webinar

On Thursday, the WaterISAC hosted a free webinar for all interested parties in the Water Sector to learn about the benefits of better coordination between the Water and Emergency Services Sectors.  Presenters John Whitler (EPA Water Security Division), Sandy Smith (Gwinnett County, GA EMA) and John Matz (Schuylkill County, PA Emergency Services) all spoke of the need for coordination and communication before an emergency takes place, noting that better preparation equals better response.  Each also referenced the value of participating in a WARN and LEPC.  Whitler announced that by the end of this year, EPA expects to publish a new fact sheet/checklist to help water utilities engage with their local emergency management agency.  Smith and Matz provided interesting contrasts in their perspectives on county-wide planning.  Gwinnett County is part of the larger Atlanta Metropolitan area and a principally suburban population.  The County has a strong central organization structure and in 2009, passed a county-wide ordinance that reorganized and brought all county departments, municipalities, and key organizations together into a coordinated response capability structure.  Schuylkill County has a similar geographic size but is comprised of multiple small, rural communities and a more decentralized government structure.  Schuylkill has devised strategies that acknowledge that many local services (fire, emergency medical) are principally supported by part time or volunteer staff.  Despite their differences, both counties agree that LEPCs and WARNs are critical to success – especially when coupled with strong advance planning and collaboration.