Are You Ready for a Water Emergency?

On August 16, ASDWA participated in the EPA WSD Water and Emergency Services Sectors Coordination Workshop in Richmond, Virginia.  Among the presentations was one from Mr. Benjamin Ruppert, Coordinator of Emergency Management with Hopewell (VA) Fire & Rescue.  He shared a series of questions that every organization should ask itself about preparedness for water emergencies.  The questions are based on the City of Hopewell’s lessons learned from four separate water emergencies.
Are you ready for a water emergency?  Start by asking the following ten questions of your organization.

  1. Have you considered mitigation projects for critical facilities that are vulnerable to natural hazards? Every jurisdiction is required to have a hazard mitigation plan, and hazard mitigation funds are made available across the state, after presidentially declared disasters inside the
  2. Do you have a notification process for incidents of significance to the pertinent players (customers, public safety, )?
  3. Are you and your staff trained in Incident Command System (ICS) – have you exercised this with local response organizations?
  4. Do you have a hazmat clean-up contractor on contract for use in spill incidents, if you have any chemical storage onsite?
  5. Have you trained a Public Information Officer (PIO), and/or have a good relationship with your Jurisdiction’s PIO?
  6. Do you have a notification system to contact your customers, and/or have a relationship with your local government who may have access to such a system?
  7. Can you set up a call center for citizen inquiry if needed in an incident?
  8. Are you working with your local emergency planning committee (LEPC) so that you have good working relationships with any industry and emergency response personnel in your jurisdiction, as well as DEQ and EPA staff?
  9. Do you have contracts in place to provide timely potable water (bulk and/or bottles) to your customers if your system goes down?
  10. Have you worked with local emergency management to ensure that all of your plans dovetail with theirs, to include notification, spill control, water distribution, ?

These are great questions for you to share with your water systems!  Let’s hope they would be able to answer “yes” to each of them.