& Emergency Response
Drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utility (Water Sector) owners and operators have a long and distinguished history of protecting public health and the environment. Following the events of September 11, 2001 and subsequent natural disasters, all levels of government, as well as the private sector, are partnering with the Water Sector to prevent, respond, and recover from natural disasters and manmade malevolent threats. Additionally, since increased resilience is a major objective of all critical infrastructures, understanding and appreciating Water Sector interdependencies is essential. All sectors are vulnerable if Water Sector service is compromised and the consequences are not just related to public health and economics, but to the nation’s psychological well-being and confidence in governance.
As a member of the Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC), WEF maintains representation for the Water Sector that allows for collaboration and communication with federal agencies regarding security issues. The WSCC serves as a policy, strategy, and coordination mechanism and recommends actions to reduce and eliminate significant homeland security vulnerabilities to the Water Sector through interaction with the Federal government and other critical infrastructure sectors.
Working under a voluntary framework resulting from the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, the Water Sector has been proactive in advancing its security posture in collaboration with other critical infrastructure sectors. To that end, the WEF Safety, Security & Occupational Health Committee develops, recommends, and conducts programs to promote a general understanding of safety and security issues.
Water Sector Interdependencies
Safe drinking water and wastewater treatment and service is essential to the public health and economic vitality of any society. In the United States, drinking water and wastewater utilities, collectively known as the Water Sector, are charged with implementing programs to provide clean and safe water to their communities everyday regardless of external forces that may impede their efforts, including natural disasters or terrorist events. To provide their essential services, water sector utilities do not operate independently. In fact, the water sector is interdependent with every critical infrastructure. Therefore, the denial of drinking water and wastewater utilities’ services—whether the result of a contamination incident, physical attack, or cyber attack—would have cascading effects. Advanced preparation of how to continually provide drinking water and wastewater services during and following an incident will reduce human and economic hardships. Towards that end, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided a series of 18 general awareness trainings on water sector interdependencies throughout 2010-11. See, Summary Report.
Other Links of Interest
Free U.S. EPA Water Security Division Tools for Download:
Climate Resilience Evaluation & Awareness Tool (CREAT)
Community Based Water Resiliency (CBWR)
Federal Disaster Funding for Utilities (Fed FUNDS)
Tabletop Exercise Tool for Water Systems (TTX Tool)
Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool (VSAT)
Water Contaminant Information Tool (WCIT)
Water Health and Economic Analysis Tool (WHEAT)
Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA) Training Center
Water Security Initiative: Guidance for Building Laboratory Capabilities to Respond to Drinking Water Contamination (March 2013)
Bridging the Gap: Coordination between State Primacy Agencies and State Emergency Management Agencies (Feb. 2013)
How to Develop a Multi-Year Training & Exercise (T&E) Plan: A Tool for the Water Sector (May 2011)
Climate Ready Water Utilities (Feb. 2011)
Consumer Complaint Surveillance: Alarm Estimation Tool (Feb. 2011)
Integrating WARN and Other Mutual Aid Agreements (Jan. 2011)
Water & Healthcare Sector Interdependencies: Working Together Towards Resiliency (Dec. 2010)
Water and Emergency Services A Critical Community Interdependency (Dec. 2010)
Water security—National and global issues: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010–3106 (Nov. 2010)
The Water Laboratory Alliance - Response Plan (Nov. 2010)
Vulnerability Self Assessment Tool (VSAT) (Sept. 2010) Fact Sheet
Water Health and Economic Analysis Tool (WHEAT) (Sept. 2010) Fact Sheet
Water Security Initiative Program Overview and Available Products (Sept. 2010)
Public Assistance for Water and Wastewater Utilities in Emergencies and Disasters (Aug. 2010)
Key Features of an Active and Effective Protective Program (June 2010)
Tabletop Exercise Tool for Water Systems: Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Climate Resiliency (June 2010)
State Primacy Agencies A Vital Component of WARN (Feb. 2010)
Wastewater Systems A Vital Component of WARN (Feb. 2010)
Link to Water and Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARN) - www.NationalWARN.org
All-Hazard Consequence Management Planning for the Water Sector Report released by the Preparedness, Emergency Response, and Recovery CIPAC Workgroup (Nov. 2009)
The "All-Hazard Consequence Management Planning for the Water Sector" (All-Hazard CMP) helps drinking water and wastewater utilities incorporate all-hazard consequence management planning into their emergency preparedness, response, and recovery plans and programs. The All-Hazard CMP was produced by a Workgroup made up of drinking water and wastewater utilities, Water Sector associations, and representatives of state and Federal water programs. It includes:
- Customizable lists of preparedness, response, and recovery actions that will improve resiliency across all hazards.
- Consequence-specific lists of actions for potential hazards that are most relevant to drinking water and wastewater utilities.
- Example incident-specific flow charts and checklists developed by a utility with links to the downloadable and customizable versions online.
- Information on how the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS) are used in preparedness and during response and recovery.
Resources on Pandemic Influenza
Opportunities for Involvement