Water Specific Position Created for CA Emergency Operations Centers

California’s drinking water security folks are collaborating closely with their state emergency management agency staff to elevate the profile of water and wastewater specialists during an emergency.  This has resulted in the creation of a new water sector-specific position at the emergency operations center.  Please read below for more information.  Other states may want to consider the creation/use of similar positions within their own emergency management structure.

According to California’s senior drinking water security coordinator, the document is being used as the “…SOP for the Water Sector Coordinator…and…provides info of where the position can be located under NIMS/SEMS in an EOC.  The SOP does mention SEMS which is California’s version of NIMS, but it follows the standard ICS and NIMS functions and structure to where it can be used anywhere in the US.  CalWARN is a big supporter for this and has helped push this out.”

The [California] Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) and the National Incident Management

System (NIMS) focus on integration of first responders and emergency managers from all disciplines into 
a common response structure during and after an incident of any size when multiple
agencies and/or multiple levels of government respond. The purpose of this document is to describe
the roles and responsibilities of the Water Sector Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Specific
Position at an Operational Area Emergency Operations Center and provide standard operating
procedures that include checklists, job aids, and forms.

The Water Sector Emergency Operations Center Specific Position coordinates information, response
actions and resource needs for all types of water infrastructure including, but not limited to, potable
water, wastewater, recycled water, dams and levees.

By creating a Water Sector position at each Region Emergency Operations Center (REOC), the
California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) recognized the need to integrate the Water
Sector into the EOC, and encourages each Operational Area to consider creating a Water Sector EOC
Specific Position within its EOC to address the Water Sector needs and coordinate response with the
Region, and Local Governments and Utilities.

Establishing the position and staffing it with people familiar with water and wastewater systems,
provides subject matter experts, knowledgeable on Water Sector issues, trained in emergency
response and recovery, and relieves EOC staff to address other EOC activities and tasks.
The Water Sector EOC Specific Position could be staffed by:
• Local Water Sector utility personnel
• Someone with a basic knowledge of local Water Sector utilities
    o County Health departments
    o Public Works department
    o Fire department
• California Department of Public Health, Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division

The document goes on to describe sample duties attached to the position, a great checklist of pre-during-post event activities, and helpful information about prioritizing water requests.


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