A good starting point is to contact the local emergency management coordinator (usually at the courthouse or through the sheriff’s office) to be sure they are aware of your SWP area delineation and your interest in creating an Emergency Plan.
Many EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATORS are not tuned in to public water system emergency planning and this is an opportunity to coordinate without duplicating efforts.
You should generate a list of LOCAL MEDIA CONTACTS and develop a policy regarding media contact. This includes designating a specific Media Contact Person to serve as point and ensure correct information is disseminated when deemed necessary. Regulations related to certain potential contaminants dictate how and when you must notify your users if your supply should exceed a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).
Some situations (such as a Boil Water Advisory) require an immediate alert mechanism, so you need to identify how best to reach your users quickly. A system operated by a water user’s association, for example, may develop a phone tree in the event of an emergency, where the operator will contact each board member, who will in turn contact specified water users.
There are several ways to REPLACE A CONTAMINATED WATER SUPPLY. Some systems may have access to a back-up well that could be brought on line and connected to the distribution system should the need arise. It would be wise, of course, for such systems to ensure that the back-up is maintained in a potable condition. Other systems may use bottled water or a water hauler to provide an emergency supply.
Identify these possible alternative sources and make sure they are an approved source. Your contingency plan should also include a written procedure describing routine tank truck disinfection, because this is often the weak link in a short-term water supply plan.
Resumption of water service following an emergency is usually based on one or more “clean” samples and may be dictated by regulation.
You can plan for FUNDING emergency actions by becoming aware of emergency funding sources that might exist at the local and state levels. Your local Emergency Management Coordinator can also help with this. Generate a list of potential emergency funding sources, and establish and maintain contacts so that valuable time is not lost dealing with financial concerns during an emergency.
For new public water system wells, construction standards require submission of plans and specifications to DEP prior to construction, so be sure to understand the requirements before counting on a new or alternate source.
TEST THE PLAN. A good technique to use after you have developed an emergency plan is to run through a couple of mock emergencies. You cannot anticipate everything, but preplanning can save many headaches when something really does happen.
Emergency plans should be dynamic and include a built-in mechanism for ANNUAL REVIEWS AND UPDATES. Think about a tie-in between your Emergency Plan Review and some other regularly scheduled event.