Water System Preparedness

For at least the past eight years or so, I’ve kept tabs on what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been doing for emergency preparedness for water systems.  Their efforts, spearheaded from their Water Security Division, include information on comprehensive emergency management activities – mitigation and resilience, surveillance and response, preparedness, and more.  Their website offers a plethora of resources, not only for water utilities and systems operators, but for others as well.  These resources include tools and guidance for conducting risk assessments, creating emergency plans, building resilience, developing a training and exercise plan, and conducting exercises.  These resources and tools all help to de-mystify emergency management systems and help to build a bridge into the emergency management world.  While they provide information on certain hazards, such as flooding or criminal activity, their approach, overall is all-hazards.  The EPA includes links to ICS and other FEMA training, as well as other agencies, and encourages water systems to interact with other agencies at the local, state, and federal level.

Back in November of last year, I gave a review of the TEEX course MGT: 342 Strategic Overview of Disaster Management for Water and Wastewater Utilities.  Those who work with or for water utilities would certainly benefit from attending this training and reviewing the EPA’s Water Security Division website.  Water is an important component of our Critical Infrastructure, with dependencies cascading across all other sectors.  These resources strengthen and support our continued preparedness within these sector, while also adding to whole community preparedness.

The EPA Water Security Division provides a quarterly e-newsletter, to which you can subscribe to stay abreast of their tools, resources, and information.

© 2016 – Timothy M. Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC Your Partner in Preparedness

Flooding – ’tis the Season

In central New York we have experienced 50+ degree (F) weather for the first time in months.  With the warmer weather has come the melting of a fair amount of snow which accumulated through the winter.  Winter temperatures rarely reaching above freezing up here resulting in little melting of snow through the season, so it’s all occurring now. Coupled with spring rains and storms, flood watches and warnings have been issued here and in other locations around the nation.  If you haven’t already, now is the time to prepare for flooding!

Aside from the measures that homeowners, business owners, and facility managers can take (sump pumps, doorway dams, sand bags, and flood barriers), jurisdictions need to be prepared for the impacts of flooding.  If electronic gauges don’t exist in your streams and rivers, be sure to have someone periodically measure and report their depth and progression toward flood stages.  Ensure that culverts are clean and open for the flow of water, and have personnel, equipment, signage, and barriers ready to deploy to address trouble spots and close roads.

Ironically, water and wastewater systems have a significant vulnerability to flooding.  The EPA has issued Flood Resilience: A Basic Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities that includes worksheets, videos, and flood maps to guide water and wastewater system operators through identifying their flood risk and vulnerability and mitigation options available to them.  Along with that effort, they have issued a Flooding Incident Action Checklist.

Most importantly, make sure that flood awareness is not a unilateral effort.  Involve emergency managers, elected officials, and first response organizations.  Review plans, policies, and procedures and ensure they are up to date.  Consider related actions, such as notification and warning, evacuation, and flood fighting measures.  Preemptive messaging to property owners/residents and business owners to help them be aware and prepared for flooding is also crucial; and make sure everyone knows how to receive local weather alerts so they are aware of any imminent flooding dangers.

Stay dry!

© 2015 – Timothy Riecker

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC