Black Sky Discussions Held This Week

EPA’s Water Security Division hosted a Black Sky exercise this week to assess the impacts and implications of a combined power and water loss for 30 days or more.  Representatives from the electric and natural gas industries, water utilities, state drinking water and emergency management agencies, EPA HQ and Regions, and other interested parties gathered on April 4 to discuss how such a devastating scenario would play out in the National Capital Region (NCR) that consists of Northern Virginia, Metropolitan Washington DC, and Suburban Maryland.

In this context, Black Sky is defined as a “catastrophic event that severely disrupts the normal functioning of our critical infrastructures in multiple regions for long durations.” as defined by the Electric Infrastructure Security (EIS) Council.

Designed to gather perspectives rather than make specific recommendations, discussion topics ranged across the full spectrum of water and power considerations.  What alternative and temporary emergency power resources exist among NCR water and wastewater utilities; which sectors and facilities should be the highest priority for power restoration and how is this determined; what is the longest amount of time utilities think they can deliver “essential” services assuming no new fuel or treatment chemicals are available for two weeks; and who actually provides the alternate drinking water or alternate wastewater services are just some of the discussion questions considered during the day long event.

Participants agreed that bringing the Water and Power Sectors together for discussions such as these is very helpful and asked if more such exercises could be held with other sectors.