ISO Develops Water Security Framework

With the security of drinking water a major concern worldwide, new guidelines from ISO on managing drinking water supplies during crises are particularly opportune.

The ISO International Workshop Agreement IWA 6, Guidelines for the management of drinking water utilities under crisis conditions, is the first document of its type backed by international consensus.

Water supply organizations of all sizes and types have become increasingly aware of the need to achieve and demonstrate proactive security performance related to their physical facilities, services, activities, products, supply chains, and operational continuity.

Water security standardization can be very useful to help water companies face these challenges. The IWA 6 guidelines constitute the first stage of a comprehensive suite of standards for water security that will serve society.

While the management of drinking water utilities under crisis needs to meet national or regional requirements of relevant authorities, the development of international standards can provide further assistance.

IWA 6 provides a framework for the management of water crises and proposes tools and means for ensuring drinking water security and models for water distribution systems security. The main topics covered are:

• water security products and means, including water contamination detection and identification technologies, physical and electronic protection, and hardening of water contamination containment.

• optimized modes, including for prediction of and dealing with dissemination of contamination in a water system, designing the most effective and efficient ways for positioning monitors and means of containment in water supply systems, and best practice for decontamination.

• technologies and processes for managing a water security event that includes risk management , security and continuity management, communications, interoperability, training, and competence.

Shimon Tal, chair of the IWA 6 comments: "Crisis management in water disaster is done by the authorities through regulations and laws. The responsibility for supplying water to the consumers falls on the water utility.

"That is the reason this IWA focuses on water utilities, these entities are the ones that need the guidance, best practices, and tools to meet and coordinate expectations with their consumers as well as 'cover' themselves in relation to the authorities."

The publication of the IWA 6 guidelines for water crisis management gives water utilities an approach for securing for themselves and for providing stakeholders assurance about their security and continuity preparedness, emergency, contingency plans, and performance. The guidelines also provide a framework for meeting legal and policy requirements in these areas. In addition, the management methodology proposes is based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act model, to facilitate continual improvement.

IWA 6 costs 120 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes and from ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store. Visit

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