EPA’s SmartGrowth Program to Host Flood Resilience Webinar

WEBINAR EVENT:  Flood Resilience and Recovery Assistance:  Lessons Learned from Vermont

DATE:  August 13, 2014

TIME:   1:00-2:30PM (eastern)

REGISTRATION:  Click https://epa.connectsolutions.com/epasmartgrowth at the time of the event.  No pre-registration required but you must log in as a “Guest.”  Audio is through computer speakers only – no dial in available.

The state of Vermont experienced major damage to roads, houses, and businesses due to flood impacts from Tropical Storm Irene in fall 2011. Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development, along with the Agency of Natural Resources, Agency of Transportation, and the Mad River Valley Planning District, requested assistance from EPA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to recover from flood impacts and plan for long-term resilience to future disasters. Through EPA’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program, EPA and FEMA worked with state agencies and communities in Vermont to identify smart growth strategies that can help vulnerable communities prepare for and recover from floods. The project resulted in the report, Planning for Flood Recovery and Long-Term Resilience in Vermont: Smart Growth Approaches for Disaster-Resilient Communities, and a Flood Resilience Checklist, available at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia_communities.htm#rec1.

This webinar will discuss the project, highlighting Smart Growth approaches and strategies communities can consider to become more flood resilient and what the state of Vermont and communities in the Mad River Valley have done since Irene to help enhance flood resilience by building back better than before.

Who Should Attend
Planners; community leaders; state, local, and federal government staff; academics; researchers; and others interested in helping communities prepare for and recover from floods.

Continuing Education
This webinar qualifies for 1.5 certification maintenance credits from the American Planning Association.

Please use http://admin.adobeconnect.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm to test your computer before attending the event.

Emergency Response: Preparing for Unplanned Events

[Editor’s Note:  Does your state have access to HSIN – the Homeland Security Information Network?  The information below (reprinted from the HSIN Advocate newsletter) may help you use HSIN to establish critical information web pages for use in emergencies.  Read on for more information.]

Emergencies leave little time for planning, but with some strategic preparation, even emergency response operations can run smoothly from the start. HSIN enables users to create a communications framework well in advance of any emergency so affected organizations at every level of government can efficiently access the information they need, when they need it.

Create Event Pages for Quick Deployment

Whenever there is greater potential for an emergency, such as at the beginning of hurricane season, HIN Site Owners can set up event or incident pages in advance with predefined web parts and functionality so that they can be turned on in a moment’s notice. For weather-related events, the basic framework of required information is known well in advance. Emergency planning pages on HSIN can be populated with incident response plans and contact lists along with areas for users in the field to upload documents, input geospatial files and submit images and situational reports.

In addition to the event pages, Site Owners can establish dedicated HSIN Connect rooms and pre-populate them with important, relevant and focused information. This ensures that the room is beneficial to all users, right from the start. Another best practice is to create separate chat rooms so that different user groups can keep conversations and information sharing topic-focused.

Get the Word Out

Make sure that all your partner organizations have appropriate HSIN access and know the correct web addresses to access event-related information.

Conduct Training

Once your HSIN Connect room and event pages are created, use them for drills and training exercises. This will help ensure that users are familiar with the available tools. It is also a good idea to periodically conduct spot training to ensure knowledge is not lost.

Use It, Use It, Use It

The more you use HSIN in your daily routines, the easier, more efficient. and more natural it becomes to use during an event or emergency response operation. We [DHS] recommend incorporating HSIN into training and other planning events and to use HSIN Connect for regular meetings to ensure your users are not only familiar with the platform, but comfortable in its use as well.

To learn additional best practices to help you prepare for unplanned events, contact the HSIN Outreach Team at HSIN.Outreach@hq.dhs.gov.


EPA Seeks Comments on Potential Revisions to its Risk Management Program

EPA is seeking comment on potential revisions to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations and related programs to improve chemical facility safety and security as required under Executive Order (EO) 13650: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. Once published in the Federal Register, there will be 90 days to provide input on regulatory elements and safety approaches.

During the 90-day comment period, EPA asks for information and data on specific regulatory elements and process safety management approaches to enhance public health and safety, and aid local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. The information received will be used when reviewing chemical hazards covered by the RMP and to determine how this program should be expanded to improve chemical facility safety. The RFI does not commit the agency to rulemaking.

The RFI addresses potentially updating the list of RMP regulated substances; seeks comment on strengthening or clarifying several existing process safety elements; and also seeks comment on adding additional risk management program elements. Among these is the use of inherently safer technologies such as whether or how gaseous chlorine use at water treatment facilities would continue to be allowed.

Ultimately, the Agency expects that this effort will enhance public health and safety, as well as assist local fire, police, and emergency responders to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies. You can learn more here.   To view EPA’s RFI and provide public comment, please go to:  http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/eo_improving_chem_fac.htm.  Once published, the public will have 90 days to submit written comments online, www.regulations.gov (the portal for Federal rulemaking), or by mail.

WaterISAC to Host Two Webcasts to Help Utilities Reduce Cyber Risks to IT and Industrial Control Systems

WaterISAC is hosting two webcasts in July and August about cybersecurity best practices, services, and tools. These webcasts are open to members and non-members without charge.

1.         NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Getting Started in the Water Sector


DATE:  Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TIME:   2:00-3:15 PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  Click this link Register Now

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework is a set of best practices derived from consensus-based IT and industrial control systems security standards. Water and wastewater systems are not legally required to implement the Framework, but the Federal government is urging all critical infrastructure owners and operators to do so voluntarily in order to reduce their risks from possible cyber attacks against their IT and industrial control systems.

The goal of the webcast is to help the water sector get started using the Framework by providing attendees a basic understanding of its components and recommendations. The webcast will also highlight various programs, guidance and tools to help the water sector implement the Framework, such as the AWWA Cybersecurity Guidance & Tool.


2.         Cybersecurity Assessments and Tools by DHS

DATE:  Wednesday, August 20, 2014

TIME:   2:00-3:00 PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  Click this link Register Now

Cybersecurity services and tools offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) include free, confidential onsite cybersecurity assessments conducted by the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) as well as the Cyber Security Evaluation Tool (CSET). CSET is a downloadable tool developed by cybersecurity experts under the direction of ICS-CERT to help users assess the security posture of their cyber systems and networks.

Presenters will also discuss the Cyber Resilience Review (CRR) provided by DHS’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). The CRR measures the operational resilience of a specific critical service to provide participants with a detailed report containing options for consideration. It is a voluntary assessment that can either be conducted via a facilitated one-day workshop or as a self-assessment; the CRR Self-Assessment Kit is meant to complement the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

QUESTIONS?  Contact WaterISAC if you have any questions about either webcast.

EPA Responds to Community Flood Concerns

Earlier today, Joel Beauvais, Associate Administrator for EPA’s Office of Policy, made the following announcement.

EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities recently released a report and a handy checklist that communities seeking to prepare for or recover from a major flood can use to assess whether their codes, policies, and regulations can help them withstand floods.

The report and checklist cover a wide range of activities. Not all of these activities will be appropriate for each community. However, community leaders may want to consider them all and then choose the activities that work best for their local conditions and circumstances.

Here are some general steps communities can take to improve their flood resilience:

  • Update and integrate community or comprehensive land use plans with hazard mitigation plans to ensure they are coordinated and that they prioritize planning for new growth in safer areas.
  • Audit policies, regulations, and budgets to ensure consistency with flood-resilience goals outlined in community plans and hazard mitigation plans.
  • Amend existing policies, regulations, and budgets or create new ones to help achieve the flood-resilience goals outlined in plans.

Here are some specific local land use policy options communities can consider:

  • Conserve land and discourage development in particularly vulnerable areas along river corridors, such as flood plains and wetlands.
  • Where development already exists in flood-prone areas, take steps to protect people, buildings, and facilities from flooding risks.
  • Plan for and encourage new development in areas that are less vulnerable to future floods.
  • Manage stormwater using watershed-wide stormwater management and green infrastructure approaches to slow, spread, and infiltrate floodwater.

State agencies can also partner to support recovery and flood-resilience planning. Specific actions states can take to improve their flood recovery and resilience efforts include:

  • Auditing all state programs to determine how well they help communities achieve flood-resilience goals.
  • Developing a comprehensive recovery plan before the next flood happens.
  • Developing a personnel plan that delineates who will assist with post-disaster recovery.

The checklist and report come on the heels of President Obama’s announcement on June 14 of a new National Disaster Resilience Competition, which will provide nearly $1 billion in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds to help communities that have experienced natural disasters rebuild and prepare for future disasters. The Notice of Funding Availability for the competition will be posted on www.hud.gov.

The Office of Sustainable Communities will host a webinar on smart growth approaches for flood-resilient communities with FEMA and the state of Vermont on Wednesday, August 13, from 1:00-2:30 EDT. Find details at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/webinars/index.html.

EPA WSD Creates Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of “What’s Going On” from the EPA’s Water SecurityDivision. Please feel free to distribute these preparedness resources to your water

utilities and partners.




image002Boost Your Disaster Funding
EPA’s Federal Funding for Utilities – Water/Wastewater – in National Disasters, known as Fed FUNDS, helps you understand federal disaster and mitigation funding.Visit www.epa.gov/fedfunds.
image002Don’t Get Soaked!
EPA’s “Don’t Get Soaked” video can help you talk to decision makers about the importance of investing in preparedness, prevention and mitigation activities.Watch it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPK9j2S5TwE.
image003Face Floods with Confidence
Coming soon! EPA’s Flood Resilience Guide offers easy-to-use aids to help you look at the threat of flooding, determine impacts to utility assets and find cost-effective mitigation products for flooding events.
For more water security tools and resources, visithttp://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity.

WaterISAC Webinars on PN During Events

If you are a WaterISAC subscriber…

Please join WaterISAC on July 9 and 10, 2014 for a two-part webinar on public notification during water contamination events and outages.

Drinking water contamination and outage events often necessitate an extensive communication effort. Yet water systems routinely employ a regulatory framework based on the Public Notification Rule and other requirements to communicate risk. High profile events from the West Virginia chemical spill to natural disasters, as well as experience from main breaks and rule violations, suggest that some events demand more than just the regulatory communication framework to meet the needs of customers and communities.

Among the tools developed to help utilities communicate better in such situations is the Drinking Water Advisory Communication Toolbox, created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with AWWA and U.S. EPA. This two-part webinar will discuss how to use the Toolbox and other best practices for advancing utility communications. Both sessions will cover different scenarios and use a range of utility experiences.

  • Part 1 (Wednesday, July 9, 2-3 PM ET) – The first session will address communication planning and evaluation. Discussion will include the differences between messages and information, preparing to respond to unknowns, and public health sector and health effect concerns.

Register for Part 1 (WaterISAC Pro Members only)

  • Part 2 (Thursday, July 10, 2-3 PM ET) – The second session will focus on communications for a contaminant or water outage event from response through recovery. Topic areas will include dissemination, implementation, and recovery concerns, such as taste and odor.

Register for Part 2 (WaterISAC Pro Members only)

Please be advised that there is a separate registration for each session; you must register for each session you wish to attend.

If you are not a WaterISAC subscriber but would like to know how to subscribe, please contact Michael Arceneaux at the WaterISAC arceneaux@waterisac.org.

Version 6.0 of EPA’s Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool Is Now Available

EPA has released a full version of the updated Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool (VSAT) Version 6.0. It is available for download at www.VSATusers.org, and will replace VSAT 5.0 on EPA’s website in the near future.

VSAT 6.0 is compliant with the ANSI/AWWA J100-10 standard “Risk and Resilience Management of Water and Wastewater Systems” as issued January 2010. It also includes important new features that make the tool more user-friendly for small systems and new users, an enhanced natural disaster threat assessment process, and a revised risk assessment approach. For a detailed list of features, as well as online training on VSAT 6.0, see www.VSATusers.org.

Please contact Dan Schmelling at schmelling.dan@epa.gov with any questions or comments.



EPA recently released a new video that highlights the importance of developing a security culture at drinking water and wastewater utilities. The video describes how Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department implemented some of the Key Features of An Active and Effective Protective Program and how the utility benefited from its enhanced security.   Some of the novel security practices described in the video are developing a security scorecard program and hiring a law enforcement official.  The video is available at: http://youtu.be/X7Mg6-BwZEI .

Want to know more about the Key Features?  You can read about them at  http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/features/index.cfm

EPA & ASDWA to Co-Host a COOP Webinar for Labs


On September 18, 2014, from 1:00- 2:00PM (eastern) ASDWA will join EPA WSD to present a webinar on the Water Laboratory Alliance’s Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) Template for all drinking water and wastewater laboratories. COOPs are a valuable tool when preparing for events that may disrupt normal operations.  Please share this invitation with your state lab colleagues and other labs in your state who might benefit from this opportunity.  This might also be a good opportunity for you to consider just how well your own COOP stacks up!

Information on how to register will be sent out shortly.

The webinar will focus on the importance of having an active COOP and will explain how the existing template can be customized for individual state, private, and utility drinking water and wastewater laboratories. There will be time at the end of the webinar for a Q&A session.

Meanwhile, if you have questions about this event, please contact Nina Hwang at EPA WSD (Hwang.nina@epa.gov).