Entries for the 'Emergency Response' Category

18

The struggle to provide safe drinking water in the face of the Gold King Mine spill is reminding many utilities and operators of the importance of knowing what to do if water service is disrupted. But creating a strong emergency plan is often easier said than done—and the middle of an emergency is the worst time to discover you’ve forgotten something.

Hosting a water emergency roundtable discussion is a great way to boost plans for service disruptions and help others in your community do the same. These events also provide a unique opportunity to connect water security with broader preparedness and community resiliency efforts underway in your region.

Here’s a quick glance at what you can do to host a successful discussion:

  1. Consult with partners within your water community to identify the groups that need to be at the table. Some groups to consider include hospitals, schools, farm operations, industrial parks, municipal pools, and first responders.
  2. Set a date and secure a meeting place that meets your meeting needs.
  3. Work with partners or co-hosts to ensure that the room has the equipment needed, such as a laptop, PowerPoint projector, and pens and pads for meeting participants.
  4. Have your water utility manager or superintendent call the groups to invite them to the event. A personal call typically results in a more positive response and can be followed by a formal invite and RSVP request.
  5. Call confirmed participants to outline what types of information participants will need to bring with them, how the discussion will be facilitated, and how sensitive information will be treated.
  6. Confirm with partners or co-hosts who will be responsible for facilitating the discussion, compiling participant data, putting together registration packets, welcoming participants, presenting, taking notes, and writing a meeting summary.
  7. Arrive at least on hour before the event is scheduled to set up materials and manage last minute details.
  8. Use meeting notes and discussed action items to develop a short report for participants.
  9. Write and distribute an internal and external report on progress towards action items approximately six months after the event.
  10. Determine the need for a follow-up meeting.

For more tips and sample invitation scripts, read the Water Emergency Roundtable—Outline for Discussion developed by the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators and EPA Region 5. 

29

As smart phones and tablets become more and more common, many organizations and individuals have found that they can be useful, portable resources in an emergency. One resource available to utilities as they plan for and react to emergency situations is the EPA’s mobile Water Utility Response site.

Water Utility Response On-The-Go is a site specifically formatted to be comfortably viewed on smart phones and other mobile devices. The homepage displays a menu of links for tracking severe weather, contacting response partners, responding to incidents, taking notes and recording damage, informing incident command, and accessing additional planning info. The weather tracking and response partners links use location data to help you access forecasts and contacts specific to your area. The Respond to Incidents section includes action checklists for drought, earthquake, extreme cold and winter storms, extreme heat, flooding, hurricanes, tornado, tsunami, volcano, and wildfire. The option labeled Take Notes and Record Damage leads to a section that includes a generic damage assessment form, while Inform Incident Command includes ICS forms 213 and 214 (the General Message and Activity Log, respectively), as well as additional information on Incident Command. The section on additional planning info includes links to EPA webpages on emergencies/incidents, planning, response, and recovery, as well as to WARN and mutual aid info.

Some of the external links from the site are not formatted for mobile viewing, and the .pdf forms may require an Adobe Reader app if you wish to fill them out on your mobile device. However, the site overall is well organized and easy to navigate, and can be a great tool for utilities dealing with weather emergencies and natural disasters. For a visual overview of how the site works, see the EPA’s video, below.



Interested in attending training or finding more information on emergency planning? Search our calendar and document database using the category “Water Security/Emergency Response.”

 

22

A recent news article highlights eight tribes that are ahead of the curve when it comes to climate change adaptation. For a lot of small or rural systems, we often hear that climate change is a "not now" problem, especially when there are so many "right now" challenges. 

Planning for climate change can simply start with building resiliency, an attribute that not only supports future issues but current challenges as well. Resiliency is simply the ability to promptly respond to unexpected changes and readily cope with the impacts. 

Through a
user-friendly tool and a pilot program, US EPA's Community-Based Water Resiliency initiative seeks to help water systems integrate and coordinate their efforts with community emergency preparedness and response programs. 

This video serves as a useful aid for outreach to community leaders and local government regarding use of the CBWR tool as part of new and existing efforts. A resilient water system will better be able to cope with any issues that may impact service and public health protection. 

27

The USEPA has released a new video that showcases WARNs in action. A WARN is a Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network, or a network of utilities helping utilities, that helps facilitate emergency aid and assistance in the form of personnel, equipment, and other associated services. This video presents the types of events in which WARNs can be utilized and discusses in detail one specific WARN response. The video emphasizes that, despite the type of emergency event, WARN coordination with response partners is crucial to a successful response.

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