Emergency Response Tabletop Exercises


Improving the security of our nation's drinking water and wastewater infrastructures has become a top priority since the events of 9/11. Significant actions are underway to assess and reduce vulnerabilities to potential terrorist attacks; to plan for and practice response to emergencies and incidents; and to develop new security technologies to detect and monitor contaminants and prevent security breaches. This tabletop exercise CD has been developed by the EPA to allow state, regional, and local water and wastewater utility staff to prepare and conduct incident response training via tabletop exercises. The CD contains materials and guidance to assist first responders to successfully plan and conduct tabletop exercises that represent several emergency response scenarios. Tabletop exercises are defined further on the Introduction page.

This CD also contains guidance developed by the EPA that emergency planners can use when developing their emergency plans and procedures. One of the guidance documents included on this CD is the Interim Final Response Protocol Toolbox: Planning for and Responding to Contamination Threats to Drinking Water Systems. The modules that comprise the "Toolbox" provide tools that are designed to help water and wastewater utilities to effectively and appropriately plan for and respond to intentional contamination threats and incidents. EPA produced the Toolbox by building on the experience and expertise of several drinking water utilities, particularly the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Organized in modular format, the Toolbox will be of value to drinking water utilities, laboratories, emergency responders, state drinking water programs, technical assistance providers and public health and law enforcement officials. Users are encouraged to review the overview before using other Modules. Please note that the Toolbox contains guidance that may be adopted voluntarily. The modules are also available in MS Word for those wishing to utilize the forms and text.

In addition to the Toolbox, water utilities may also wish to take advantage of the guidance provided in the Large Water System Emergency Response Plan Outline: Guidance to Assist Community Water Systems in Complying with the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 or the Emergency Response Plan Guidance for Small and Medium Community Water Systems to Comply with the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, also included on this CD.

The large system outline guidance was developed to aid utilities in preparing emergency response plans as required by the Bioterrorism Act. It provides guidance concerning issues that are not required by the federal government, and some sections might not be applicable to every system. In addition, states might have requirements that supersede this outline. The guidance document for small and medium systems was published by EPA for use by community water systems serving a population between 3,301 and 99,999 as they develop or revise emergency response plans. The document should be of considerable value to key authorities with critical roles during emergency response or remediation actions resulting from a drinking water contamination threat or incident. This document is also available in MS Word for those wishing to utilize the forms and text. Printed copies, in limited quantities, can be obtained from the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) at 1-800-490-9198.

EPA would like to acknowledge all those individuals and organizations who contributed to the development and review of the Emergency Response Tabletop Exercise CD.