Illinois WARN Undertakes Outreach to Small Systems

Our colleagues at published the following information in their most recent e-newsletter.  This Illinois example provides a great illustration of how simple steps can be effective in reaching out to smaller systems to engage them in sustainability and resiliency.  Kudos to ILWARN for their creativity and for sharing it with everyone!

“A lot of challenges can impact a small utility.  Anything from a tornado to multiple water main breaks on the same day to half the staff out with the flu can have a huge effect on a utility’s ability to function.  While small local agreements are often a great first step to ensuring your bases are covered in the event of an emergency, statewide programs like ILWARN (Water and Wastewater Alert Response Network) can be a great supplement to your emergency planning.

Small Utility Support

ILWARN is working to get the word out that the mutual aid assistance services they offer can be just as useful to small systems as they are to large ones.  Their small systems flyer provides lots of introductory information, FAQs, and myth-busting on their resources and membership requirements.  It’s worth noting here that there is no registration fee to join ILWARN, there are no size restriction, that members will be reimbursed for their assistance, and that no member is required to offer assistance.  Pre-existing local agreements are not affected by ILWARN membership. Utilities wanting a more detailed idea of how ILWARN membership works might also want to check out the Operational Plan, which has resource sections for before, during, and after an emergency.

A Helping Hand in the Signup Process

If you’re convinced ILWARN is a solid resource for your utility, there are more resources to help you get started.  ILWARN has provided step-by-step guides to completing your registration with their website, requesting and offering assistance through the website, and requesting and offering assistance when the internet isn’t available or an emergency occurs after hours.  And of course, you need to sign the mutual aid agreement and turn it in before you can participate in ILWARN assistance requests.

Small utilities face lots of challenges, but you don’t have to face them alone.  Statewide mutual aid agreements help get as many people as possible in your corner when the chips are down.  If your utility isn’t in Illinois but you’re interested in WARNs in your area, check out this map.”