EPA Water Security Division – Two New Products

Designing Customer Complaint Surveillance for Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems

This document provides guidance for using customer calls and existing utility complaint management systems for detecting possible drinking water contamination incidents. Customers throughout a utility’s distribution system can provide near real-time input regarding changes in the taste, odor, or appearance of drinking water. The document provides guidance on using customer feedback to monitor for changes in water quality. Specific guidance is provided for complaint collection, information management, alert investigation procedures, and communicating with customers. This document is expected to be published in early October and posted to: https://www.epa.gov/waterqualitysurveillance/customer-complaint-surveillance-resources

Designing Enhanced Security Monitoring for Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems

This document provides guidance for enhancing security monitoring at distribution system facilities that are determined to be at risk of intentional contamination. The document covers equipment to delay and detect unauthorized entries using hardening and intrusion detection. It also provides guidance on site selection, physical security equipment, communications, information management, alert investigation procedures, and partnerships with law enforcement to respond to unauthorized intrusions. This document is expected to be published in late September and posted to: https://www.epa.gov/waterqualitysurveillance/enhanced-security-monitoring-resources


EPA Homeland Security Research Webinar on R&D Solutions to Water Emergencies

Our EPA Homeland Security R&D colleagues are hosting a webinar on “Research and Development Solutions to Water Emergencies.”  The webinar will describe tools and strategies that EPA provides water utilities to improve drinking water and wastewater system resiliency to disasters, and to quickly recover from contamination involving chemical, biological, radiological (CBR) agents

DATE:              August 17, 2017

TIME:               1:00-2:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8046096733945995267



An overview of the following tools and methods will be presented:

  • EPANET-RTX (Real-Time eXtension) which are software libraries to support real-time modeling and real-time analytics of water distribution systems
  • Water Network Tool for Resilience (WNTR) which can be utilized to model and evaluate the resilience of specific water distribution systems
  • Riverine Spill Modeling System (RSMS) that supports emergency response decisions regarding drinking water plants intakes on the Ohio River. There are plans to expand this tool to other river systems
  • Decontamination methods for oil spills that impact water distribution systems, and treatment of contaminated water.

EPA’s Selected Analytical Methods for Environmental Remediation and Recovery, that assists sampling and analytical method selection, also will be featured as will current research on potential exposure pathways related to high consequence pathogens (e.g., Ebola virus, Bacillus anthracis spores) in wastewater.

In Need of Analytical Support?

Access EPA’s Laboratory Compendium to view labs across the nation and their capabilities. The Lab Compendium is an online database of nationwide environmental laboratories available to EPA; Federal, state, and local emergency responders; laboratory personnel; and water utilities.  The database contains each laboratory’s capabilities to analyze chemical, biological, and radiological contaminants.  Click here to access


Have an Emergency?  Did You Know…

The National Library of Medicine has decision support tools for emergency responders to help identify chemicals in mass casualty incidents, and once identified, to provide treatment support. These tools are available online and as apps to download on smart devices. Find links to apps here: https://disasterinfo.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/toolsnlmdimrc.html

Be prepared ahead of time for a chemical spill or toxic chemical attack; familiarize yourself with these tools and incorporate them into drills.  Take a look at:

CHEMM-IST is a prototype decision support tool developed by experts in medicine and emergency response as an aid for identifying the chemical a patient was exposed to in a mass casualty incident. The focus of CHEMM-IST is only on severe cases. CHEMM-IST assumes that the patient has been exposed via the air, with potential toxic effects from inhalation, and also possible toxic effects from deposits on the skin from the air. Go to https://chemm.nlm.nih.gov/chemmist.htm

WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. The key feature of WISER is the support for identifying an unknown substance. WISER Help Identify can help an emergency responder identify and validate the unknown substance based on the following:

  • signs/symptoms of victims of exposure
  • physical properties of the substance gathered by observation or sensors
  • hazard values from NFPA 704 placards
  • the ability to categorize a substance, such as a substance used in a meth lab, a flammable substance, etc.
  • transportation identification, including DOT placards, type of road trailer, and type of rail car

For more information, go to https://wiser.nlm.nih.gov/

Public Health Surveillance Webinar

EPA’s Water Security Division is hosting a webinar entitled, “Public Health Surveillance (PHS) for Determining Drinking Water Contamination.  PHS involves the analysis of public health data to detect and increase in disease or illness in a community and an investigation to determine whether the increase in illness may be due to drinking water contamination.

DATE:              April 19, 2017

TIME:               1:00-2:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://www.eventbrite.com/e/us-epa-public-health-surveillance-for-detecting-drinking-water-contamination-registration-32689843201

During the webinar participants will:

  • Learn about common public health partners and surveillance practices
  • Learn how to work with public health partners to leverage existing public health surveillance capabilities to monitor for possible drinking water contamination
  • Find out where to access resources to learn more about public health surveillance

Attendees may be eligible for one continuing education contact hour.

EPA Releases Two New Contamination Guidance Documents

Late last week, EPA’s Water Security Division released two new documents – Sampling Guidance for Unknown Contaminants in Drinking Water and Sampling and Field Testing During Water Contamination Incidents.

The Sampling Guidance provides procedures for conducting routine and baseline monitoring in response to a triggered event and sampling procedures in support of remediation or decontamination efforts.  It offers recommendations for collecting, storing, preserving and transporting samples of potentially contaminated water as well as recommendations to support the detection and identification of many types of contaminants in drinking water.  None of these recommendations are mandatory; rather they are intended to aid coordination between the utility, emergency response and laboratory communities during the response to a contamination incident.

The Field Testing Guidance outlines basic and advanced field response activities and also provides information pertaining to staffing, quality assurance, and other procedures.  Additionally, the document contains useful resources; downloadable and customizable report forms and templates; supplemental information on the application; and relative costs of field testing instrumentation and test kits.

New Water Quality Surveillance Doc

EPA’s Water Security Division has just released a new product as part of the Water Quality Surveillance and Response System.  The Guidance for Designing Communications Systems for Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems can be downloaded at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/srs_communications_guidance_081016.pdf

Online water quality and enhanced security monitoring components of a Water Quality Surveillance and Response System (SRS) require that data be transmitted from remote monitoring locations to a control center using a wired or wireless data communications system. This new guidance document describes the overall process for identifying available communications technologies, establishing evaluation criteria, comparing alternatives, and selecting a technology (or technologies).

Do you know what’s happening in your distribution system?  Watch the video below to learn about Water Quality Surveillance and Response Systems.



Public Health Surveillance Can Help Detect Contamination

This is another in the series of guidance documents developed by EPA’s Water Security Division (WSD) to help water utilities be more proactive in their efforts to protect drinking water and work collaboratively with their critical customers.

How can drinking water utilities use public health surveillance as part of their ongoing resiliency initiatives?  WSD has published a new document that can help with overall water quality surveillance and response (SRS) activities.

The new Public Health Surveillance Design Guidance for SRSs (PDF) provides guidance for leveraging ongoing public health surveillance in detecting possible drinking water contamination incidents.  It also explains how public health data – such as emergency room visits or poison control center calls – can be used to detect possible drinking water contamination incidents and contains an interview form to help drinking water utilities engage their public health partners and learn about ongoing surveillance activities.

Regular vs. Splash-less Chlorine for Disinfection

Did you know…When disinfecting a well (private, small community, or noncommunity) in an emergency, make sure to use the ‘tried and true’ regular, unscented, chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite concentration).  Splash-less bleach is a little thicker than regular household bleach.  While it is less likely to splash, the sodium hypochlorite concentration is only 1-5% which is not strong enough to sanitize and disinfect.

This information is important – not just for private well owners – but also for anyone who finds themselves with a potentially compromised water supply.  These situations can range from a lengthy power outage from a strong storm, a summer cabin where the well was turned off over the winter, or flash floods.

The information on splash-less chlorine is from the latest electronic Well Owners Network newsletter published by the Water Systems Council.  If you would like to learn more about this newsletter, click cgreenstreet@watersystemscouncil.org.



EPA Announces Release of the 2015 Water and Wastewater Sector Specific Plan

After lengthy review by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), EPA is pleased to announce the publication of the 2015 Water and Wastewater Sector Specific Plan (SSP).  This document nipp-ssp-water-2015-508  is for your review and use

The purpose of the SSP is to guide and integrate the efforts intended to secure and strengthen the resilience of the Sector’s infrastructure.  The Water SSP also describes how the Sector, through its voluntary partnership mechanisms, has developed a strategy – the Vision, Mission, Goals, Objectives, and Milestones – to manage the complexity within the Sector in a way that moves it toward realizing its security and resilience goals.  Finally, the Water SSP describes how the Sector measures the performance of its activities so that progress can be measured and continuously improved.

The Water SSP is designed to be a “living document” that not only establishes the strategic framework for achieving the Sector’s security and resilience ends, but also encourages tactical flexibility with respect to the means.