See How ILWARN Manages Outreach to Small Systems

[Editor’s Note:  Our colleagues at WaterOperator.org published this in late March and included it in their most recent e-newsletter.  This Illinois example provides a great illustration of how you can reach out to your smaller systems to engage them in sustainability and resiliency.  Kudos to ILWARN for their creativity and the WaterOperator.org for sharing it with everyone!]

“A lot of challenges can impact a small utility. Anything from a tornado to multiple water main breaks on the same day to half the staff out with the flu can have a huge effect on a utility’s ability to function. While small local agreements are often a great first step to ensuring your bases are covered in the event of an emergency, statewide programs like ILWARN can be a great supplement to your emergency planning.

SMALL UTILITY SUPPORT

ILWARN is working to get the word out that the mutual aid assistance services they offer can be just as useful to small systems as they are to large ones. Their small systems flyer provides lots of introductory information, FAQs, and mythbusting on their resources and membership requirements. It’s worth noting here that there is no registration fee to join ILWARN, there are no size restriction, that members will be reimbursed for their assistance, and that no member is required to offer assistance. Pre-existing local agreements are not affected by ILWARN membership. Utilities wanting a more detailed idea of how ILWARN membership works might also want to check out the Operational Plan, which has resource sections for before, during, and after an emergency.

A HELPING HAND IN THE SIGNUP PROCESS

If you’re convinced ILWARN is a solid resource for your utility, there are more resources to help you get started. ILWARN has provided step-by-step guides to completing your registration with their website, requesting and offering assistance through the website, and requesting and offering assistance when the internet isn’t available or an emergency occurs after hours. And of course, you need to sign the mutual aid agreement and turn it in before you can participate in ILWARN assistance requests.

Small utilities face lots of challenges, but you don’t have to face them alone. Statewide mutual aid agreements help get as many people as possible in your corner when the chips are down. If your utility isn’t in Illinois but you’re interested in WARNs in your area, check out this map.

 

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NIPP Security and Resilience Challenge

[The following is an excerpt from the February 29, 2016 DHS Partnership Quarterly newsletter]

Have an innovative idea on how to improve the security or resilience of infrastructure in your community? Apply to the NIPP Security and Resilience Challenge and your idea could receive funding.

The National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) Security and Resilience Challenge, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program, identifies and funds high priority innovative projects among the critical infrastructure community. The Challenge has approximately $3 million available in FY 2016 to fund around ten high-priority sector and regional innovation initiatives. These initiatives will develop technology, tools, processes, and methods that address near-term needs and further strengthen the security and resilience of critical infrastructure.

To apply for Challenge funds, DHS is asking its NIPP partners to submit Capability Gap Statements to describe how their project will fill gaps in cyber and physical security, first responder needs, and other capabilities. Capability Gap Statements will be reviewed and vetted by the National Institute for Hometown Security in a competitive process. DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) will then make final decisions on which Capability Gap Statements will be advanced to the proposal phase.

Where can I apply and find out more?

Submit your Capability Gap Statements on the National Institute of Hometown Security website.  For more information on the NIPP Security and Resilience Challenge or to volunteer to serve on the review panel, please visit the National Institute of Hometown Security website or contact one of these individuals:

NIPP Security and Resilience Challenge Subject Matter Expert

Samuel G. Varnado, PhD, Chief Technical Officer

National Institute for Hometown Security

sgvarna@thenihs.org or

DHS IP Technology Development and Deployment Program (TDDP) Program Manager

Jay Robinson, Senior Policy Analyst

DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection

jay.robinson@hq.dhs.gov

 

States and WARNs Highlights Fact Sheet Now Available

States and WARNs Highlights Fact Sheet Now Available

ASDWA’s Security Committee and EPA’s Water Security Division have just brought their three-phase collaborative partnership to look at state drinking water programs’ relationship with state WARNs to a close.  The State WARN Perspectives Highlights fact sheet has just been posted on the EPA WSD web page dedicated to Emergency/Incident Planning, Response and Recovery.

The document, part of the larger “States and WARNs Working Together” series, offers insights into the various methods that state drinking water programs use to support the WARN programs.  It also showcases several successful State-WARN collaborations that may inspire other states and WARNs to work more closely together.  Examples describe how these partnerships have grown through state support for the inclusion of WARNs in emergency operations centers, the recruiting of members, funding opportunities and development of trainings/exercises.

Click States and WARNs Working Together to view or download the document.

ASDWA also encourages you to visit the EPA WSD Emergency/Incident Planning, Response and Recovery web page http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/emerplan/index.cfm#pp31 to look at the number and variety of tools, fact sheets, and exercises that you can use in your work with water systems to improve their resiliency.

HELPFUL TOOLS FOR ALL TO USE

Over the past few years, ASDWA’s Security Committee has been engaged in developing tools that provide low or no cost ways for state drinking water programs and their water community partners to support water utilities (and their own programs) in the collective and ongoing effort to better prepared and more resilient in the face of water emergencies of all sorts.

One tool is appropriate for states, member organizations, assistance providers and utilities – especially smaller systems.  The tool, Water Emergency Roundtable – Outline for Discussion, creates a step-by-step process for a one-day shirt-sleeves discussion on what a community can or should do in the event of an emergency that either severely diminishes the available water supply or shuts the supply off completely.  The Outline Guide offers tips, scripts, and templates on how to organize such a discussion, who to invite, what materials may be needed, topics that may be discussed, and what sort of follow up would be helpful to the community after the discussion takes place.

This is a low cost approach, which would be helpful in enhancing collaborative partnerships among state drinking water programs, water utility organizations, and the communities that they both support.  It would also go a long way toward helping those communities better engage with their own emergency and utility service providers to create an effective and efficient foundation for community resiliency.

Most recently, the Committee has partnered with EPA’s Water Security Division to host webinars in 2014 to showcase how states are collaborating with their WARN programs; how state labs can design a Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan; and demonstrate how state drinking water programs are partnering with their emergency management counterparts.  Information on all of these webinars can be found on ASDWA’s website www.asdwa.org under the Security tab.

The Committee has also developed targeted tools for state drinking water programs to use to enhance their own preparedness, responsiveness, and resilience in times of crisis.

BRIDGING THE GAP:  Coordination Between State Primacy Agencies and State Emergency Management Agencies focuses on collaborative opportunities between state primacy and emergency management agencies when an incident requires state involvement.  The document highlights the need to consider water as part of an effective emergency response; the value that state primacy agencies can provide both before and during an emergency; and a quick checklist of topics that should be discussed when a primacy agency meets with their emergency management counterparts.

STATE DRINKING WATER PROGRAM All Hazards Preparedness, Mitigation, Response and Recovery Checklist provides state drinking water programs with a checklist of actions that should be considered before, during, and after an emergency.  The document offers recommended actions that every state drinking water program should be able to undertake and implement to support and sustain public health protection.

Please take a few moments to look at these tools.  Think about whether you can make changes within your own program to improve your resilience.  Maybe one or more of these can help.

States and WARNs – Working Together Webinar

On December 17, ASDWA’s Security Committee hosted a webinar to showcase how five states – California, Utah, New Hampshire, New York and Florida – support, interact with, and sustain their state’s WARN.  Representatives from state drinking water programs, EPA Regional and Headquarters staff, and all WARN Chairs were invited to join with ASDWA to explore the different approaches that can be used in support of state WARN programs.  Attendees learned about several different models of collaboration and partnership between state drinking water programs and state WARNs.

If you were not able to attend the webinar, ASDWA has posted a recording of the event, a quick summary the discussions (including Q&A), and individual presentations on the Security Page of the ASDWA website at www.asdwa.org/security

ASDWA would like to extend a special “thanks” to our Committee Member presenters – Johnna McKenna (NH), Joe Crisologo (CA), Kim Dyches (UT), Bill Gilday (NY), and Ken Carter (FL) – for sharing how their respective states collaborate with and support the WARN program.  We’d also like to express appreciation for the support provided by EPA’s Water Security Division for this event.

Tips to Prepare for Hurricane Season

Our EPA WSD colleague, Stefanie Simpson, has prepared the following useful suggestions list as a reminder that safe is always better than sorry!

As we finally transition from the winter months, summer is fast approaching, and for much of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, this means hurricane season.  Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 25 – 31, making it a great time to review and prepare for the months ahead.  Each year storms seem to get larger, stronger and occur more often.  Drinking water and wastewater utilities can be vulnerable to infrastructure damage, flooding, and power outages.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Security Division has free tools and resource to help prepare for inclement weather.  Here are some steps utilities can take to prepare for hurricane season:

  1. Identify your vulnerable assets using the Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool (VSAT)
  2. Update your Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
  3. Reach out to your local power provider to see where you are on their restoration priority list
  4. Contact local vendors to have generators/fuel storage on hand
  5. Join your state Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN) if you haven’t already done so
  6. Have a list handy of water emergency contacts (WARN, local, state, federal)
  7. Keep up-to-date when severe weather is forecasted for your area

EPA WSD also invites you to check out the “Day Without Water” video – a great resource to help you raise community support for water and wastewater emergency preparedness.  For more tips and resources on preparing for water emergencies, visit EPA’s Water Security website  at http://www.epa.gov/watersecurity or email WSD-Outreach@epa.gov.  It’s always better to be prepared so your utility and community can weather the next storm.

WARNs in Action

EPA has developed a new video to increase water sector awareness of the Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN) initiative and attract new members to existing WARNs.  Entitled “WARNs in Action”, the video illustrates the types of events in which the mutual aid networks have been utilized and emphasizes the importance of water sector coordination during an emergency.  Interviews with WARN representatives provide detail on particular benefits of WARN, explaining how the programs have reduced response time and saved utilities money during emergencies.

The video can be found on the WARN Home tab of the Office of Water’s Mutual Aid and Assistance webpage (www.epa.gov/mutualaid).  ASDWA encourages you to share the video – and the website – with your water utilities, your state emergency management counterparts, and others who should be aware of the value of participating in or engaging with your state’s WARN.

Do Your Utilities Know Who to Call When There’s Trouble?

Just in time for hurricane season, EPA has compiled emergency contact information for state, regional, and Federal agencies so that water utilities know who to call to get the support they need during an incident.  While it’s important to first contact local emergency management, there may be instances in which local resources are exhausted and the utility needs the support of outside agencies.

To facilitate response during those critical moments, these updated contact pages provide mainline emergency phone numbers for each state’s emergency management agency, drinking water agency, and wastewater agency, in addition to a mainline and individual contact number for the state’s WARN program.  If support is needed beyond the state level, regional emergency contact information is provided for EPA and FEMA, while headquarters emergency information is provided for EPA and USACE.  This information can be accessed from the EPA Water Security Division’s homepage http://www.epa.gov/watersecurity or directly from the EPA website contacts main page http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/wshqcontacts.cfm

AWWA Publishes WARN Superstorm Sandy After-Action Report

AWWA has just published its after action report that identifies successes, challenges, and proposed key actions based on the events and efforts surrounding last Fall’s Superstorm Sandy.  The 10 page report is based on multiple situation briefings, meetings with impacted utilities and leaders from the affected WARNs, and their partners.

The Report is based on situation briefs, impacts documented in WARN AARs or direct communications with utilities and/or supporting partners.  It evaluates eight critical issues and areas such as communications, the energy-water nexus, and elevating the priority status of water infrastructure and offers “…a straight forward assessment of what happened and what can be done to make us better prepared as a collective in the future.”

Please click here Superstorm Sandy After-Action Report to read the Report in its entirety.  Thanks to our colleagues at AWWA for preparing and sharing this important document.

 

March 3-9 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week

www.ready.gov is asking that we all be a “force of nature” during Severe Weather Preparedness Week.  That means…”know your risk, take action and be an example by sharing what you have done with your friends, family, coworkers, and others.”

Leading by example, John Whitler of EPA’s Water Security Division, has written an interesting post to EPA’s “Greenversations” blog.  He talks about weather risks, the value of advance planning for water utilities and the communities they serve, and how participating in a WARN (water and wastewater agency response network) can help utilities and their communities not only be better prepared but better able to respond and recover from severe weather and other emergencies.  John’s post is called “A WARN-ing for Water Utilities” and can be read at blog.epa.gov/blog.