WEF Offers Wastewater Security Training For POTWs

The Water Environment Federation (WEF), through a cooperative agreement with EPA, announced on March 16 a new training and technical assistance program to assist publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) in reducing vulnerabilities to human-made threats and natural disasters.

Since 2002, WEF has been working to train all-size water and wastewater utilities on how to conduct a vulnerability assessment of their facilities and update their emergency response plans (ERP), officials said. Previous training programs have focused on large, medium and small POTWs as well as train-the-trainer sessions for state and local training and assistance providers. Using the VSATTM software (Vulnerability Self Assessment Tool), training for each series was developed for specific size POTWs but was similar and versatile enough to benefit any size facility.

The latest program consists of seven three-day regional workshops on vulnerability assessment and emergency response training. VSATTM will continue to be the primary focus however other tools, including the EPA ERP CD on table top exercises, also will be integrated. In addition, WEF will structure the training to present the 14 features of an active and effective security program developed by the National Drinking Water Advisory Council. As a follow-up, WEF is planning Web casts for all attendees as a "refresher" course and will develop a Web-ready, self-learning module as another method for increasing wastewater security awareness.

"WEF greatly appreciates the support of EPA's Water Security Division that enables us to continue providing high quality training at no cost to wastewater utilities," said Eileen O'Neill, WEF's chief technical officer. "We are particularly pleased to be able to emphasize emergency response readiness and include table-top exercises that can help wastewater systems be better positioned to restore vital services in the event of an emergency."

The workshops are offered at no cost to POTWs treating 2.5 million gallons per day (mgd) or greater. Other utilities, state and local government officials, and interested parties may participate on a space-available basis. Although the training events will remain free for all participants, only POTW staff will be eligible for travel reimbursement. For more information on dates, times and registration, visit http://www.wef.org/watersecurity.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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