Basic Information about Drinking Water Emergency Preparedness in EPA Region 8
In the event of an Emergency
If this is a Drinking Water EMERGENCY and our offices are closed, please call 303‑293‑1788 for assistance.
As a water operator, you must be prepared to respond in an emergency. You must have a plan of action and know your system's operation to properly react in a limited time. An emergency may affect your system by itself, such as loss of pressure, unsafe water, or breaches of your system's security. An emergency may be wide-spread, such as in instances of natural disaster, pandemic influenza, or other disruptions of services over a large geographical area.
Events such as 9/11, the Northridge earthquake, the 1997 Red River flood, and more recently Hurricane Katrina in 2005 identified a need for water and wastewater utilities to create intra-state mutual aid and assistance programs because:
- Utilities require specialized resources to sustain operations
- Government response agencies and other critical infrastructure rely on water supplies
- Utilities must provide their support until state and federal resources are available
- Large events impact regional areas, making response from utilities impractical
- Disasters impact utility employees and their families, creating greater need for relief
- Agreements must have been established pre-event for federal reimbursement; and
- Promoting mutual aid assistance meets FY06 Department of Homeland Security requirements.
In emergencies, it is critical that utilities help each other to continue service during emergencies or to quickly recover from disrupted services. The Water/Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARN) concept is about creating an opportunity to enhance water and wastewater utility resiliency in response to disasters during the response and recovery phases. A mutual aid and assistance network is designed to provide a mechanism whereby water and wastewater utilities that face threatened or specific damages from a natural or human-caused event could quickly obtain emergency assistance in the form of personnel, equipment, materials and other associated services, as necessary, from other water/wastewater utilities using a master or omnibus mutual aid and assistance agreement signed by member utilities. The primary objective is to facilitate rapid, short-term deployment of emergency support to restore critical operations at the affected water/wastewater utility.
In Wyoming, a Wyoming Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network ( WYOWARN ) is being formed and a single, universal mutual aid agreement is being developed. To volunteer to help or for more information, contact Clint Basset, Cheyenne Board of Utilities, at (307) 637-6415.
Emergency Response Plans
All systems must have an emergency response plan. The purpose of this plan is to ensure that the water system has an up-to-date plan that addresses who to contact and any arrangements that would be necessary in the event that there is an emergency involving the water source(s), treatment facility, treatment process, or the distribution system. Conditions such as storms, floods, blizzards, major mechanical failure, and terrorism should be considered.
EPA will be reviewing your emergency response plan during the next sanitary survey. If you haven’t developed one yet, EPA has some templates that you can use. These emergency response planning templates are available on our Reporting Forms webpage.