CDC Publishes Water Preparedness Recommendations in MMWR

The February 18, 2011 CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report includes an interesting six page article titled, “Community Health Impact of Extended Loss of Water Service – Alabama, January 2010.”

The article describes CDC’s findings during its investigation (at the invitation of the Alabama Department of Public Health) into the potential health impacts and community resiliency from an incident at two rural communities that suffered a loss of access to municipal water for nearly two weeks because of weather-related water main breaks and systemic mechanical failures.  CDC conducted a survey of 470 affected and unaffected households to estimate acute gastrointestinal and/or acute respiratory illnesses; how many households suffered water loss or reduced pressure; how many were aware of the issued boil water notice and/or had emergency water provisions in the house; and how the two communities responded to the emergency.

Findings indicted that most residents were ill prepared for a water-related emergency and many did not receive boil advisory information until they had already consumed unboiled tap water.  CDC also found that, “In general, community emergency preparedness planning had not included collaboration with water utilities, plans had not outlined a clear chain-of-command structure and boil water notifications procedures, and emergency water distribution did not meet the needs of vulnerable populations…”  As a result, CDC prepared recommendations for public health involvement in water emergency preparedness.

To read more about this investigation and to see the CDC preparedness recommendations, please go to and click on the subject  title – Community Health Impact of Extended Loss of Water Service – Alabama, January 2010.



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