RCAP Shares Planning Steps for Water Shortages

The most recent edition of the RCAP Newsletter, “A Drop of Knowledge,” includes excellent information on planning contingencies if you are concerned about a possible water shortage in your community.  The following is an excerpt from that publication…

“Here are 4 steps to developing a water shortage contingency plan:

Step 1: Establish your utility priorities.  The EPA and USDA’s Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management lists ten key management areas of sustainably managed utilities.  By addressing priority areas such as product quality, financial viability, operation resiliency, and others, water system managers can address challenges and increase their effectiveness.

Step 2: Identify your potential water shortage events.  Drought, water quality degradation, or equipment failure can reduce or eliminate supply. Water treatment or distribution system failure can also cause major water shortage events. Events can be natural, man-made, or due to equipment failure. As utility system personnel you will most likely have the best idea where to focus your limited resources in planning for water shortages.

Step 3: Assess risks.  Don’t spend your time on events that probably won’t occur or that will have limited impact on your utility. Assess both the likelihood and impact of a failure to evaluate the risks.

Step 4: Involve other stakeholders.  Don’t forget to include other agencies and groups in the process. Utility personnel are prone to believe they can handle just about any incident. This may be true to a certain extent, but usually utilities underestimate available resources and abilities needed to handle larger or more complex water shortage events.

Additional steps include, examining water supply and demand, identifying trigger mechanisms for implementing the plan, and ensuring financial and legal backing.”

Editor’s Note:  You may want to round out your thought process by taking a look at the recently published EPA Drought Response and Recovery Guide for Water Utilities.  You can download the Guide at

http://www.epa.gov/waterutilityresponse/drought-response-and-recovery-guide-water-utilitiesThe Guide also includes interactive case studies map that is available separately at http://epa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=84f1c3dac56f4226b677d8247b0e3c07.

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