Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, much attention has been focused on the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, such as power plants, bridges and public water systems. But threats from terrorists are not the only cause for concern when considering drinking water system safety and security.
Disgruntled employees, accidents and petty vandalism can all impact how a water system manages its resources and actions. In fact, in Arizona we have seen disruptions to drinking water service from a consistent summertime threat: wildfires. Fires, floods and other disasters may cause water systems to confront hard realities and force tough decisions.
Emergency Operations Plan
Title 18, Chapter 4, Section 116 of Arizona's drinking water rules requires all community water systems, regardless of size, to develop and maintain an Emergency Operations Plan. The plan must address several issues associated with maintaining water service within a system during an emergency. Emergency operations plans detail physical and technical aspects of water systems operation, such as maintaining proper water pressure, collapse of a major structure or loss of mechanical components like pumps or valves. The emergency operations plan should also address public notice and alternate water supplies.
The Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act requires every community water system that serves a population of greater than 3,300 people to conduct a vulnerability assessment to identify areas and processes within a water system that could be vulnerable to attack, sabotage or disruption.
Systems serving between 3,301 and 49,999 are required to conduct a vulnerability assessment by June 30, 2004. In addition, an Emergency Response Plan must be completed within 6 months of completing a vulnerability assessment but no later than Dec. 31, 2004.
Vulnerability assessments are voluntary for systems serving 3,300 or less people. However, ADEQ encourages all water systems to use this document to review their vulnerabilities.
Emergency Response Plans
Community water systems that serve more than 3,300 people use their completed vulnerability assessments to compile an emergency response plan, which is different from the emergency operations plan described above.
The emergency operations plan is a starting point for an emergency response plan. The emergency response plan should contain all of the information required in an emergency operations plan but provide greater detail regarding the potential problems the water system may face.
The emergency response plan should also include information about other agencies that must be notified in addition to regulatory departments. Law enforcement, public health officials, firefighters all may be impacted by, or able to assist with, emergencies at a water system.
For more information, please contact Noah Adams - (602) 771-4511.