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Water Advisory Planning Resources & Case Studies

Drinking Water Advisory Communication Toolbox

The Drinking Water Advisory Communication Toolbox provides a practical guide and protocol for communicating with stakeholders and the public about water advisories. It is based upon research and identified practices and focuses on water systems, addressing the spectrum of situations that generate drinking water advisories, such as water main breaks and drops in pressure, flooding and hurricanes, or even intentional contamination.

The toolbox provides information on how to plan for, develop, implement, and evaluate drinking water advisories. It includes instructions on how to prepare before an event and what to do during an event, templates and tools to use, and recommendations for follow-up actions and assessments after an event. Its goal is to enable water systems to communicate effectively with partners and the public in order to protect public health.

The toolbox is available in two formats: a printable PDF document and a comprehensive website with more than 40 downloadable tools and templates.

Emergency Water Supply Planning Guide for Hospitals and Health Care Facilities

In order to maintain daily operations and patient care services, health care facilities need to develop an Emergency Water Supply Plan (EWSP) to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a total or partial interruption of the facilities’ normal water supply. Water supply interruption can be caused by several types of events such as a natural disaster, a failure of the community water system, construction damage, or even an act of terrorism. Because water supplies can and do fail, it is imperative to understand and address how patient safety, quality of care, and the operations of your facility will be impacted.

Because a health care facility must be able to respond to and recover from a water supply interruption, a robust EWSP can provide a road map for response and recovery by providing the guidance to assess water usage, response capabilities, and water supply alternatives.

An article on the guide [PDF - 2 pages] was published in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Environmental Health 1.

Planning for an Emergency Drinking Water Supply

Collaboration and partnership between various levels of government are critical for providing emergency water supplies. Planning for an Emergency Drinking Water Supply is the result of a collaborative effort between the American Water Works Association and the Environmental Protection Agency National Homeland Security Research Center with support from Camp Dresser McKee Inc. This report represents a resource for reviewing the roles and responsibilities among various levels of government and outlines essential planning steps for providing emergency water supplies. The report also covers the technical details of this preplanning and presents key findings to improve the nation’s responsiveness when the need for an emergency water supply arises.

Case Study on Massachusetts Pipe Break Response

This case study is a comprehensive review of the drinking water emergency response process. The report looks at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) response to a major pipe break in May 2010 that involved more than two million people and thousands of large industrial users in 30 metropolitan Boston communities. The report was funded through a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and co-sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the Water Research Foundation. This resource for the nation's water utilities incorporates assessment and analysis of the actions of MWRA and other state and local responders involved in the incident and identifies areas where the responders acted successfully, as well as areas where they encountered challenges. Three key recommendations from the case study are:

  1. Develop a "Security Culture"
  2. Nurture Relationships Before an Event, Not During an Event
  3. Develop a Strong Emergency Operations Center/Incident Command