Suggested Post-Hurricane Activities For Water, Wastewater Facilities

EPA's Water Security Division has developed a checklist to assist drinking water and wastewater facilities recover from hurricanes. Recognizing that water utilities will want to restore operations (e.g., regaining adequate pressure and disinfection) as quickly as possible, water facilities might consider the following steps in recovering from severe weather conditions. These recommendations are closely tied to the "Suggested Pre-hurricane Activities for Water and Wastewater Facilities" document. You may also want to reference your Emergency Response Plan for more recovery information.

A. General

1. Line up and schedule emergency operations and cleanup crews.

2. Maintain contact with state and federal agencies (Federal Emergency Management Agency and others) of location and telephone numbers of the emergency operating center or command post for the utility.

3. For public water systems, be sure to line up contacts to request emergency water supply, if necessary.

4. Consult public health officials and your primacy agency for public notifications (i.e., boil water, do not drink).

5. Notify customers and media where to access information and press advisories.

6. Arrange for food and water for the crews.

7. Maintain clear lines of communication with local authorities, such as police and fire in case of an injury or other emergency.

8. Make arrangements with the local power utility to restore power as a primary customer. Make arrangements with local companies to purchase materials and supplies and to borrow/lease heavy equipment needed to make repairs to the plant.

9. Confirm with local companies that materials and chemicals can be delivered to the plant as soon as it is safe and units are repaired and ready for operation.

10. Plan for appropriate disposition of personal protection equipment (PPE) and other equipment.

B. Grounds and Common Areas

11. If possible, resupply inventory of emergency repair equipment and supplies (i.e., sand and sandbags, hand shovels, power equipment, fuel, batteries, flashlights, portable radio, first aid kits, etc.).

12. Keep service vehicles stocked with equipment and supplies.

13. Keep all vehicles and emergency generators fueled.

14. Keep service vehicles on high ground (above expected flood crest).

15. Maintain communications equipment and charge or replace batteries (i.e., two-way radios, cell phones, walkie-talkies, pagers, etc.).

16. Sandbag critical areas.

17. Coordinate debris removal.

18. Shut down exposed pipes at river crossings to prevent discharge of raw sewage or to prevent loss or contamination of potable water if the pipes break.

C. Administration and Laboratory Buildings

19. Keep portable electrical equipment and small motors from the flood zone.

20. Keep all sensitive laboratory equipment from the flood zone, where possible.

21. Keep or store computers in a safe area.

22. Keep or store all important records in a safe area.

23. Keep vital records such as built drawings, wiring diagrams, etc. to the emergencyperations center or command post until normal operations resume.

24. If electrical power has been disconnected, make arrangements with the local power company to restore as a primary customer.

D. Treatment Plant and Pumping Stations:

25. Once flood waters recede, work with the power company to restore power. Keep chemicals in a safe area.

26. Sample appropriate system elements (storage tanks, filters, sediment basins, solids handling) to determine if residual contamination exists.

27. Inspect electrical motors for damage caused by silt, mud, and dirt getting into the windings. Replace electrical motors if damaged in the storm.

28. Submerged motors should be washed with clean water and dried, and in most cases restored to service.

29. Inventory all shop tools and electrical hand tools in the emergency operations center or command post.

30. For drinking water systems, if possible continue to maintain elevated storage at full capacity as appropriate.

31. Monitor chlorine residuals and system pressure as soon as you can safely gain access to the system and its control facilities.

EPA's Natural Events page: http://www.epa.gov/naturalevents (where you can find the "Suggested Pre-hurricane Activities for Water and Wastewater Facilities" page and other hurricane-related information)

Additional information about water and food safety after a hurricane can be accessed at http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/health.asp

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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