Agency Offers Disaster Preparedness Tools Online

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working with stakeholders to ensure that drinking water and wastewater utilities are prepared to respond to disasters -- both natural and man-made.

The agency has provided training on Incident Command System (ICS) basics and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) tailored to the water sector to more than 1,500 people in 48 states over the past 3 years.

EPA is making these training materials available on-line to help drinking water and wastewater utilities better understand the ICS structure, coordinate with other first responders within an expanding ICS structure, and implement NIMS concepts and principles. The training is available at http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/home.cfm?program_id=8#nims and information about opportunities for on-site training is available at http://www.horsleywitten.com/ICStraining/.

Understanding the ICS and NIMS concepts will help utilities provide mutual aid and assistance to one another. Encouraging the development of statewide mutual aid and assistance agreements has been a priority of EPA and water associations. The number of state Water/Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARNs) has grown from 3 three in 2005 to 31 today, with more in the planning stages.

EPA has developed a tabletop exercise facilitator guide to help WARNs practice and exercise their operational plans and procedures. The guide includes instructions for planning, organizing, and conducting an exercise and includes sample materials, such as scenarios (flood, hurricane, and earthquake), discussion questions, and presentation slides. By practicing the functionality and operations of activating their mutual aid and assistance agreement, a WARN will be able to respond more effectively and efficiently during an actual incident. The guide and other information about Mutual Aid are available at http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/home.cfm?program_id=8#maa.

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