Public Health Surveillance Design Guidance for Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems

EPA has released a new guidance document as part of the Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems.  Public health surveillance is the ongoing collection and analysis of public health data, such as emergency department visits and calls to poison control centers, for the purpose of detecting disease and illness in a community.  Public health surveillance is conducted in most cities in the U.S., and can be a powerful tool for the early detection of drinking water contamination incidents.

The new document, Public Health Surveillance Design Guidance for Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems, provides guidance for leveraging ongoing public health surveillance to detect possible drinking water contamination incidents.  It also contains an interview form to help drinking water utilities engage their public health partners and learn about ongoing surveillance activities.

You may download the guidance from EPA’sWater Quality Surveillance and Response System website:

If you have any questions, please contact Steve Allgeier by phone at 513-569-7131 or email him at


EPA Tools and Strategies for Climate Change


Many drinking water utilities are struggling with the demands imposed by often unexpected extreme weather events.  What can they do to plan; how can they be prepared to respond; when can they declare the crisis to be over?

EPA has developed a number of tools that can help answer some of these questions and provide recommendations for action that can help drinking water systems to be more resilient.  Here are some useful links that we invite you to explore:

Adaptation Case Study and Information Exchange:  This tool allows water sector — drinking water, wastewater and stormwater — utilities to learn about climate change adaptation planning efforts from their peers across the United States.

Adaptation Strategies Guide:  This interactive guide assists drinking water and wastewater utilities in gaining a better understanding of what climate-related impacts they may face in their region. The guide identifies what adaptation strategies can be used to prepare their system for those impacts. The guide also includes information on how utilities can incorporate sustainability (e.g. green infrastructure and energy management activities) into their adaptation planning.

Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT):  CREAT is a software tool that assists drinking water and wastewater utility owners and operators in understanding potential climate change threats. The tool also aids in assessing the related risks at their individual utilities. The software identifies threats based on regional differences in climate change projections; it then assists utilities in designing adaptation plans based on the assessment.

Scenario Based Projection Map:  This online map provides easy access to scenarios of projected changes in annual total precipitation, intensity, annual average temperature, 100-year storm events, and sea-level rise. To explore local climate change projection data across the United States, simply zoom in on a location or type a location into the search field.

Storm Surge Inundation Map and Hurricane Strike Frequency Map:  This interactive map illustrates the worst-case storm and inundation scenarios on the American Gulf and Atlantic coasts, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The map combines data layers from FEMA 100, and 500 year flood maps. Other layers include; NOAA’s Sea, Lake, and Overland Survey from Hurricanes (SLOSH), and the National Hurricane Center’s coastal county hurricane strikes map.

Workshop Planner for Climate Change and Extreme Events Adaptation:  This tool assists drinking water and wastewater utility staff, technical assistance providers, community leaders and other stakeholders in conducting climate change adaptation workshops; it generates materials tailored to your location and provides helpful guidance for hosting a successful workshop.


Updated National Planning Frameworks Released – Webinar in July

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its partners have released the updated National Planning Frameworks for each essential mission area:

  • Prevention
  • Protection
  • Mitigation
  • Response
  • Recovery

The updated National Planning Frameworks, which are part of the National Preparedness System, present a paradigm shift in the way we as a nation approach preparedness through a risk-driven, capabilities-based approach. Historically, preparedness was considered a separate, distinct mission area; but now the Frameworks address national preparedness as a whole through the core capabilities that compose the five mission areas.

FEMA has been hosting a series of engagement webinars to highlight key changes to the Frameworks and to answer questions participants may have.  There is one webinar left with space available (July 6).  To register for this event, please click here.

To view the udated Frameworks document and a summary of the changes, go to


For more information on national preparedness efforts, visit

Imagine a Day Without Water

Imagine: no water to drink, or even to make coffee with. No water to shower, flush the toilet, or do laundry. Hospitals would close without water. Firefighters couldn’t put out fires and farmers couldn’t water their crops.  Some communities in America already know how impossible it is to try to go a day without our most precious resource.  The Value of Water Coalition announces September 15, 2016, as the 2nd Annual Day of Action as we all try to imagine what our lives would be like during a day without water.

The Coalition invites you to join them on that day to raise awareness and educate America about the value of water in our daily lives.  In 2015, one hundred and eighty-five organizations nationwide joined forces to communicate the importance of safe, reliable water infrastructure.  Together these organizations generated more than six million impressions on social media.  The goal is to make an even bigger impact in 2016.

Want to know more about a day without water or what you can do in 2016?  Click here

EPA ORD Compiles Drought Info and Activities

EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) has put together a general fact sheet and a technical brief on EPA HQ and Regional drought activities across the nation.  What began as drought research activities only quickly morphed into a more comprehensive listing of activities Agency-wide.  It may not be an exhaustive list, but it is a very useful beginning to capture EPA’s drought work to date.  As a next step. ORD plans to update both the technical brief and the fact sheet in 2017.


Here are the links to the two ORD docs    EPA_Drought_General Fact Sheet_May 2016 and EPA_Drought_Technical Brief_May 2016



New Water Widget

EPA’s Water Security Division has developed a new tool for the water community.  The Utility Preparedness Widget for Drinking Water and Waste Water Utilities is now available to help raise awareness of and access to WSD’s available tools and resources.  State drinking water programs are invited to host the widget on their own water security pages.   Once installed, the widget provides direct access to free EPA resilience tools and resources without leaving your webpage.  Interested?  You can view the widget at  If you’d like to host the widget on your website, please contact Karen Edwards (EPA WSD) at

Connect, Plan, Train, and Report

Our colleagues in the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection have developed a fact sheet that highlights tools and resources to help businesses (water systems) better plan, prepare, and protect themselves from an attack.  As the title above notes, applying these four steps – connect, plan, train, and report – in advance of an incident or attack can help better prepare businesses and their employees to proactively think about the role they play in the safety and security of their businesses and communities.  Each of these elements is discussed and proactive recommendations are offered.  Further, the document includes a helpful list of resources for more information.  To view the fact sheet, click here Hometown-Security-Fact-Sheet-04062016-508


Homeland Security Research

EPA’s Office of Homeland Security Research has published a newsletter that contains information related to a variety of new and ongoing research initiatives.  Many of these initiatives also have application beyond the security or resiliency program.  If you are interest in learning about products that support or are related to sampling & analysis; waste management; decontamination; or fate, transport or persistence, please click this link Product Newsletter June 2016.pdf for more information.

Protective Action Guide for Radiological Incidents

On June 6, EPA released a draft Protective Action Guide (PAG) and planning guidance for radiological incidents.  As you know, DHS and EPA have recommended that water systems be prepared for all types of incidents – chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear.  To date, more focus has been given to chemical and biological incidents.  This PAG, however, is intended to guide water systems in protecting against short term health risks during response to radiological incidents.  It explains how to calculate Derived Response Levels (DRLs) for radionuclides likely to appear in drinking water following a radiological contamination incident.  DRLs are concentrations of radionuclides in drinking water that correspond to EPA’s proposed PAG of 100 mrem and 500 mrem.  It does not replace the radionuclide MCLs designed to protect public health over the long term.


A Federal Register notice and opportunity for comment on this draft should be published soon.  Meanwhile, use this link to learn more about the PAG.


EPA Water Security Division Publishes ‘WHAT’S GOING ON’ Electronic Update

As many of you know, our colleagues at EPA’s Water Security Division are working diligently to make sure that you have the best available tools, training, and strategies to enhance your resiliency and water security posture.  To help showcase ‘what’s going on’ at WSD, they have published an electronic newsletter that contains lots of great info.  Please see below:

Is Your Water Utility Prepared to Handle Contamination Incidents?

The Water Quality Surveillance and Response System Exercise Development Toolbox (EDT) helps drinking water utilities test, evaluate and improve their investigation and response procedures for distribution system contamination incidents. The toolbox can also serve as a database for procedures and future exercises. The EDT is available at:

Training Resources to Build Your Water Resilience Knowledge

The EPA provides opportunities to help build water resilience knowledge within the water sector. Some trainings offer continuing education units/credits for operator certification requirements. To find out more and stay informed on training opportunities, please visit and bookmark

Want to Know the Costs and Consequences of an Emergency?

Watch and share EPA’s newly released video about the Water Health and Economic Analysis Tool (WHEAT). The video demonstrates how WHEAT helps water and wastewater utilities estimate the economic costs and public health consequences of a water emergency. The video is available at:

Lab Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) — Get Free Training

Is your lab well prepared to continue with essential activities if a major operational disruption occurs? Every lab should have an effective COOP in place. Join the free online training July 21, 2016 at 1 p.m. EST — and take a big step toward enhancing your lab’s resilience! Register here

Boost Your Lab’s Stature: WLA Prospective Member Webcast

Do you want to enhance your lab’s visibility and credibility in the water analytics community and water sector at large? Learn about the benefits and process of becoming a Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA) member: Participate in the WLA Prospective Member Webcast on June 15, 2016 at 1 p.m. EST. To register, click here:

View the Webinar on Free Preparedness Tools

If you missed the May 11, 2016 webinar on “Free Preparedness Tools for Drinking Water and Wastewater Utilities,” hosted by the EPA, you can still catch it online! Tools featured include: Drought Response and Recovery Guide for Water Utilities, Hazard Mitigation for Natural Disasters, Water Quality SRS Exercise Development Toolbox and others. View the webinar at: