You are required to have an Emergency Response Plan in place as an owner or operator of a small water system.
The Emergency Response Plan
This is a written document that gives the water system operator clear directions on what to do in an emergency.
Rapid response is critical. A well-prepared and thought-out plan will tell you exactly what to do and who to call so that you can respond quickly and effectively, even in a stressful situation. An emergency plan can minimize the cost, inconvenience, and potential health risks for water users if the water supply is ever disrupted or contaminated.
What Should Your Emergency Response Plan Include?
The key components of an Emergency Response Plan include:
- A list of contacts–owners, operators, repair people, alternate water suppliers, government agencies, and water users
- A list of the most likely emergency situations–loss of power, contamination of raw supply, equipment breakdown, broken mains, and so on
- Maps of the system that identify key features and system components
- Operating procedures for the equipment routinely used in the system, as well as backup equipment, such as generators.
Know your system and potential impacts on it. If train tracks are near any part of your system, what would you do if a train derailed upstream of your surface water intake?
Communications Related to Emergencies
Rapid response during an emergency situation depends on effective communications. Your top priority will be to alert all the users on your system as soon as possible, especially if there is any possible risk to health.
For a small system you can organize a telephone tree to alert everyone quickly. (To set up a tree, divide the task of phoning the water users among several people.) Also have a backup method for reaching people who can’t be contacted by phone.