EPA Releases Handbook For Drinking Water Security Systems, First Responders

EPA announced on May 26 the release of a handbook, Water Security Handbook: Planning for and Responding to Drinking Water Contamination Threats and Incidents, that will help drinking water systems understand the basics of planning for and responding to threatened or actual incidents.

The handbook, a simplified version of the Response Protocol Toolbox: Planning for and Responding to Drinking Water Contamination Threats and Incidents, covers the overall concepts and principals in less detail than the full version. The handbook is also intended to be a companion to EPA's Response Protocol Toolbox: Planning For and Responding to Drinking Water Contamination Threats and Incidents: Response Guidelines. The Response Guidelines provides many forms and checklists to help organize and carry out emergency response and planning efforts. The handbook describes the basic concepts and procedures involved in water security planning and threat response.

The handbook describes how to recognize intentional water contamination threats and incidents, what actions a utility should take in the event of a threat or incident, possible roles of the water utility within the larger Incident Command framework, and how the National Incident Management System is organized. It also describes the utility's actions and decisions during site characterization, laboratory analysis, public health response, remediation and recovery.

EPA officials said the handbook was written for water system owners and managers, water utility emergency response managers (WUERMs), and utility staff who maintain public and private drinking water systems, regardless of their size. In addition, anyone who may be involved in an emergency response concerning drinking water, such as public health officials, emergency responders, law enforcement officials, environmental protection officials and other government officials should read the handbook. Utility managers in the wastewater sector may find the handbook useful because it describes a general process for threat and incident response.

The handbook can be accessed at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/pubs/water_security_handbook_rptb.pdf. Information on water security can be found at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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