WaterISAC Publishes Massachusetts Case Study

WaterISAC announces the publication of an important new security resource – a case study on the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) response to a major pipe break in May 2010 involving more than two million people and thousands of large industrial users in 30 metropolitan Boston communities.  The publication, Multi-agency Response to a Major Water Pipe Break: A Massachusetts Case Study and Evaluation, is available on the WaterISAC portal at www.WaterISAC.org/mwra.

The study reminds us all that a “disaster” is not always weather-related and that emergency planning and response has application under a wide range of circumstances.  The report, produced by Stratus Consulting, incorporates assessment and analysis of the actions of MWRA and other state and local responders involved in the incident.  It identifies areas where the responders acted successfully as well as areas where they encountered challenges.  Three key recommendations from the case study are:

¨       Develop a “Security Culture.”  This security-focused outlook can be maintained and bolstered through a variety of practices: (1) conduct emergency response planning; (2) emphasize drills and training; (3) treat normal incidents as drills; (4) learn the Emergency Response Plan (ERP), but also emphasize the importance of mindful response improvisation; and (5) review and revise the ERP, incident command structure and associated emergency protocols after every emergency event.

¨       Nurture Relationships Before an Event, Not During an Event.  Substantial cooperation and coordination among a wide range of emergency responders also facilitated the successful response.  Colleagues in different agencies and departments already knew and trusted each other, had participated in drills together and knew what to expect from one another.

¨       Develop a Strong Emergency Operations Center/Incident Command.  Water utilities should articulate and implement a coordinated, prearranged command structure for a successful emergency response.

ASDWA joins the WaterISAC in recommending this case study as a useful resource for state drinking water programs and water utilities alike.  If you are not a WaterISAC Pro subscriber, please go to www.waterisac.org for more information on how to sign up.

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