Environmental Protection

Utilities Should Prepare for H1N1 Impacts on Staff

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are keeping track of the H1N1 influenza virus and hoping that a vaccine will be available in the fall. Still, water and wastewater utilities would do well to ensure they are prepared for a potential pandemic.

Water sector facility managers can review their preparedness plans and check the Department of Homeland Security's water and wastewater annex. The complete guide, "Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Guide for Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources" (CI/KR Pandemic Influenza Guide), covers all critical infrastructure and key resources. It was created in 2006.

According to Homeland Security, the guidelines should serve as a practical tool for owners and operators to enhance existing emergency response plans and address the unique challenges an influenza pandemic presents.

Utilities that fail to prepare may end up without the staff, equipment, or supplies necessary to continue treating wastewater for their community.

Another planning resource is the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ “Business Continuity Planning in the Event of an Influenza Pandemic: A Reference Guide”.

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