Preparing for Natural Disasters at Drinking Water Systems in EPA Region 8
Natural Disaster Preparedness
To borrow from the postal service: Neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail, nor blizzard, nor flood, nor drought, nor tornado, nor tsunami, nor wildfire, nor volcanic erruption will keep the operator from the delivery of safe water; that is, if your system has a plan for dealing with natural disasters and has established communication channels with those who can provide help.
Delivery of safe water can be a challenge in the best of time, but may be next to impossible unless you have planned to operate during natural disasters. You can find help here in developing an emergency plan that includes natural disasters. EPA has prepared a number of guidance manualsfor water utilities to use in planning and in responding to a disaster. The Emergency Response Plan Guidance for Small and Medium Community Water Systems will guide you through planning principles that apply to natural disasters, as well as other types of emergencies.
After the catastrophic flooding of Colorado in the fall of 2013, the town of Jamestown, Colorado received assistance from the EPA on recovery, rebuilding and resiliency through an EPA contract. The result of this assistance culminated in the document Jamestown Flood Restoration Recommendations – Final Report.
One of the best things you can do right now is to keep handy a list of people and organizations to call in the event of a natural disaster, both in your Emergency Response Plan and to carry with you. The list should include your local police, fire department, county or reservation public health officials, public water supply system and wastewater treatment operators in your vicinity, state officials, and (of course) our office. With your emergency response plan, the list of contacts should help you through the critical first hours of an emergency.
If your public water supply system is affected by a natural disaster, call us. We may be able to provide onsite technical assistance to help you over the short and long term.