FEMA Updates Its Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit

FEMA has recently updated its Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit.  The Benefit Cost Tool Version 5.0 is used to perform benefit cost analysis for applications submitted under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant Programs.

New features of the Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit Version 5.0 include (but are not limited to):

New Benefits Classes:  Version 5 expands the nature of what is classified as a project benefit. Prior to Version 5, the BCA Tool primarily quantified benefits for physical damages, loss of function, and casualties avoided. Version 5 now includes these new benefits classes:

  • Environmental Benefits – For acquisition/demolition and acquisition/relocation projects, environmental benefits (or “ecosystem services”) for the size of the parcel being acquired can be included in the BCA in certain situations.
  •  Social Benefits – These benefits quantify the cost of mental health treatment and lost productivity for the BCA modules which do not already include a value for this calculation (Flood, DFA, and Hurricane Wind).
  •  Nontraditional Benefits – New benefits that are applicable to certain mitigation projects that traditionally have been outside of FEMA’s BCA Tool include:
    • Volunteer Costs: Projects which will result in future reduction in  volunteer costs can now include this benefit. For example, costs for volunteer flood fighting around a water treatment plant can be included as a project benefit for a mitigation project which reduces or eliminates the need for flood fighting efforts.
    • Street Maintenance Costs: For larger acquisition or relocation  projects, benefits can now be included for the future street  maintenance costs avoided if infrastructure is removed.
    • NFIP Administration and Claim Costs: For each NFIP policy, there is a cost for general administration and a cost to administer a regular and Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) claim. Any flood mitigation project which eliminates the need to carry a flood insurance policy or reduces the claim administration burden can utilize this benefit.

Updated Life Safety Benefits Values:  A new Version 5 methodology for the Value of Statistical Life (VSL) increases the VSL from the Version 4.8 value of $5.8 million to $6.6 million. The economic value of injuries avoided is calculated differently in the BCA modules which include casualty values, but are scaled off of this new fatality value.

Revised Methodology of Existing Benefits:  The methodology for calculating residential displacement costs has changed from a standard value of $1.44/square foot/month to the lodging and meals per diem rates for the community, as determined by the General Services Administration (GSA) or Department of Defense. The non-residential displacement cost methodology is unchanged.

The software program is available at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/92923.  If you have any questions about the new BCA software program, please contact the BC Helpline at bchelpline@dhs.gov or at 1-855-540-6744.

EPA Posts New Updates/Training on Federal Disaster Funding Tool

EPA has posted a series of short video trainings to help introduce water and wastewater utilities to EPA’s tool, Federal Funding for Utilities-Water/Wastewater-in National Disasters (Fed FUNDS).  On the web at www.epa.gov/fedfunds, this new, user-friendly approach walks the user through a series of “how to” scenarios that apply in advance of, during, and after a disaster has occurred…literally, at the press of a button!

  • Which Funding is Right for You? – guides you to the most applicable funding programs
  • Be Prepared to Tap into Funding – lists activities to prepare you to apply for funding
  • Currently in a Disaster? – provides forms and photologs to document the damage
  • Federal Disaster Funding Programs – covers federal programs from FEMA, EPA, USDA, and others
  • Utility Examples, Training, & Assistance – includes successful applications, training on funding, and funding mentors




Take a look at FedFUNDS and share this information with your water systems to help them be better prepared “just in case…”

EPA WSD Hosts Preparedness Tools & Resources Webinar

EPA’s Water Security Division invites you to attend a “Free Preparedness Tools & Resources for Drinking Water and Wastewater” webinar on May 6.

DATE:  Tuesday, May 6

TIME:   2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  https://www.thetestportal.com/freeEPAresources

The goal is to increase drinking water and wastewater awareness of EPA no cost resources and tools that can assist utilities in becoming more resilient to “all hazards.”  Two speakers from DC Water and Fairfax Water will share their experiences and recommendations on using USEPA tools to increase preparedness.

This event is open to water and wastewater utilities, technical assistance providers, and state drinking water and wastewater program staff.

If you have questions about this event, please contact Karen Edwards, EPA WSD, at 202-564-3797.

New Vulnerability Assessment Tool is Available

AEM Corporation is offering its Program to Assist Risk and Resilience Examination (PARRE) assessment tool.  This interactive application is designed to assist owner/operator assessment teams to conduct a probability-based risk & resilience assessment of their critical assets. PARRE is compliant with the ANSI/AWWA J-100-10 Standards; includes SAFETY Act flow-down protections; and can facilitate RAMCAPTM compliant risk assessment of critical assets.

Do note that this tool is not financially supported by any Federal Agency and, thus, is available for purchase.  Click here to learn more about what PARRE has to offer.

North Florida PSA Shares Useful Resources

The North Florida District DHS Protective Security Advisor (PSA) communicates frequently with various members of the Water Sector in his region about issues and initiatives of interest.  Most recently, he shared copies of some “great reference materials related to the Water Sector.”  This is a useful compilation of longstanding strategic approaches and planning guides developed within the Sector.  This list is by no means exclusive; rather, it just reminds us of what good tools we already have in our toolbox.

Take a look at:

Please add these to your resource library and have them handy.  Preparedness is the preface to success.

New Jersey Creates New Resiliency Guidance Docs

Hurricane Sandy, as well as other significant events, exposed vulnerabilities in New Jersey’s water/wastewater infrastructure. As a result, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) recently completed four (4) technical guidance documents designed to promote resiliency and sustainability for NJ’s Water Sector.  The NJDEP intends to work cooperatively with their regulated systems to implement measures that enhance the State’s ability to sustain Water Sector operations throughout a broad range of meteorological or man-made conditions.

The documents can be accessed through the NJDEP’s Division of Water Supply & Geoscience website http://www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply under “What’ New” or the Division of Water Quality webpage at http://www.nj.gov/dep/dwq under “Featured Topics”.

Direct links to individual guidance documents are provided below:


If You’re A WaterISAC PRO Subscriber…

If your office has a subscription to the WaterISAC, you may be interested in registering for the following webinar.

On April 15, 2014, WaterISAC will host a webinar on the physical security assessment program of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Protective Security Advisor program. Known as Site Assistance Visits (SAVs), these assessments inform facility owners and operators about security vulnerabilities and gaps as well as protective measures to increase preparedness for all hazards, including terrorist attacks. SAVs are conducted by DHS Protective Security Advisors, who are security experts located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico where they serve as direct links between DHS and state and local critical infrastructure partners.

WaterISAC’s guest will be Frank Westfall, who is a DHS Regional Director and Supervisory Protective Security Advisor. Mr. Westfall will discuss the different facets of a SAV, including how to request one, what to expect, and follow-on activities. Read more about the PSA program and SAVs.

DATE:  Tuesday, April 15

TIME:   2:00-2:45PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  Information and registration

Please remember, you must be a WaterISAC subscriber to participate in this event.

Status Update for Executive Order 13650

In August 2013, President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13650 - Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.  The attached Progress Report addresses improvements in chemical facility safety and security, specifically stakeholder input, operational coordination with State, local, and Tribal partners, and efforts to modernize policies, programs, and requirements. Your input on actions described in the document is appreciated.  If you have any questions or comments regarding EO 13650, please visit ttps://www.osha.gov/chemicalexecutiveorder/index.html   for more information, or email EO.chemical@hq.dhs.gov.

Final 135-Day Progress Update_05MAR14

Water and Energy Nexus in Disasters Webinar Series

EPA is hosting the second of four Water and Energy Nexus in Disasters webinars on April 2, 2014.  The event, titled Coordination between Electric and Water Utilities, will feature two speakers from electric utilities and one speaker from a water utility who will share their experiences and recommendations for increasing coordination and communication between the two types of utilities.  The speakers will also share their lessons learned from significant storm events that impacted their utilities, including Superstorm Sandy.

DATE:  Wednesday, April 2

TIME:   1:00-2:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2276443524517791234

The featured presenters for this event are:

Anthony Hurley, Vice President, Operations, at Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), an electric utility operating company of FirstEnergy Corp.

Jonathan Reeves, Emergency Response and Planning Coordinator for the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water).

Olaf “Pete” Pedersen, III, Emergency Preparedness Manager and the Emergency Services Partnership Program (ESPP) Coordinator for Pepco (Potomac Electric & Power Company).

Microsoft Ends Support for Windows XP and Office 2003

Please work with your water systems to make sure that they, as appropriate, upgrade their software programs and avoid the risk of compromise through use of outdated, unsupported products.

Microsoft is ending support for the Windows XP operating system and Office 2003 product line on April 8, 2014.  After this date, these products will no longer receive:

*   Security patches which help protect PCs from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software
*   Assisted technical support from Microsoft
*   Software and content updates

Description:  All software products have a lifecycle. End of support refers to the date when Microsoft no longer provides automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. As of February 2014, nearly 30 percent of Internet-connected PCs still run Windows XP.

Impact:  Computer systems running unsupported software are exposed to an elevated risk to cybersecurity dangers, such as malicious attacks or electronic data loss.  Users may also encounter problems with software and hardware compatibility since new software applications and hardware devices may not be built for Windows XP or Office 2003.  Organizations that are governed by regulatory obligations may find they are no longer able to satisfy compliance requirements.

Solution:  Computers operating Windows XP with SP3 or running Office 2003 products will continue to work after support ends. However, using unsupported software may increase the risk of viruses and other security threats.  Users have the option to upgrade to a currently supported operating system or office productivity suite. The Microsoft “End of Support” pages for Windows XP <http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/endofsupport.aspx> and Office 2003 <http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/support-is-ending-for-office-2003-HA103306332.aspx> offer additional details.

There are software vendors and service providers in the marketplace who offer assistance in migrating from Windows XP or Office 2003 to a currently supported operating system or office productivity suite. US-CERT does not endorse or support any particular product or vendor.

Again, please encourage your water systems to make sure that they have installed an appropriate operating system that is protected adequately from viruses and capable of receiving needed technical support.