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EPA issued a June 2011 reportPlanning for an Emergency Drinking Water Supply. Five workshops were convened with about sixty technical experts to review alternative means of providing drinking water in the event of destruction, impairment, or contamination of the public water supply. Various scenarios were assumed, such as destruction or impairment of the water infrastructure by a powerful earthquake and contamination events requiring alternate supplies of drinking water. The term “emergency water supply” is used instead of the equivalent terms “alternative water supply/sources” throughout this report. Based on the severity of an incident, all levels of government (local, state and federal), as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), like the Red Cross, may become involved.


The workshops identified the importance of the development of an emergency drinking water plan by a local water utility, even though, during the actual emergency, other entities (e.g., State National Guard) may be tasked with implementing that plan. The water utility could use this report to assist in developing its plan, i.e., to assemble a group consisting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), NGOs, and state officials to determine appropriate roles and to write a plan for their community. The U.S. EPA strongly encourages utilities to regularly review and update their vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans. The emergency drinking water planning could be viewed as a component of the emergency response plan updates done by the water utility.