[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to EMForum.org.
I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Moderator. We are very
glad you could join us.
When disaster strikes, a community may be left “high and dry” if it
loses its water and waste water facilities, so restoring these utilities
are a high priority in most communities. Today we are going to
learn about the Water / Wastewater Agency Response Network, a mutual aid
initiative designed to facilitate rapid response and recovery for these
Today’s recording and a copy of the slides will be available from our
site later this afternoon. A transcript will be available later
Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s speakers:
Dr. Kevin Morley is the Security & Preparedness Program Manager for
the American Water Works Association (AWWA) where he has been
responsible for facilitating the expansion of mutual aid and assistance
networks within the water sector based on the “Utilities Helping Utilities Action Plan” developed by the association in 2005.
John Whitler is an environmental protection specialist with the United
States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Office of
Ground Water and Drinking Water, Water Security Division where he has
worked on water sector preparedness and emergency response since 2004.
Please see today’s Background Page for further biographical details and
related links to resources that will be mentioned during the
presentation today, and also the Action Plan I just mentioned.
Welcome to both of you, and thank you very much for taking the time to
be with us again today. I now turn the floor over to Kevin to start us
Kevin Morely: Thank you very much, Amy, and I appreciate the opportunity
to participate in the EM Forum. I think this is quite timely on
the heels of Hurricane Sandy that the East Coast experienced a few weeks
ago. To begin, as Amy mentioned, the focus of this discussion is
on the WARN program. That is the shorthand term for
Water\Wastewater Agency Response Network.
I think we’ll just begin with a bit of background. WARN really got
its inception from the experience of utilities in California in the
early nineties on the backside of the many events that they had in
California, principally earthquakes, wildfires, landslides and that
nature. Utilities in that area realized they needed a way to
collaborate and work together to respond and recover their communities
more quickly and more efficiently.
That process moved along in California. Then in 2004 Florida experienced
some significant hurricane activity. As they considered a similar
type of need amongst utilities, they learned of the program in
California and developed something similar in Florida based on that
That lent itself to the national framework that Amy mentioned—the
Utilities Helping Utilities Framework which myself and Ray Reardon—he
kind of spirited some of the activities in California and he is now the
current co-chair and really helped facilitate the development.
Certainly my colleague John at EPA was very much involved in this.
I wanted to set the tone as to what WARN is. It is embodied most
principally in this agreement—this document that can be found on http://www.NationalWARN.org and it provides a bit of background, history, and the principles embodied in the agreement.
For those of you that are familiar with the EMAC program—the
state-to-state emergency assistance compact—this agreement is very much
modeled about that but it is at a local level amongst asset owners and
operators that would need unique assistance and resources.
We have heard it many times—planning is great and good but until you
need it you don’t know it. What we attempt to do with the
agreement that is here is recognize that assistance is voluntary.
It is not mandatory. Obviously if you are in a compromised
situation you don’t want to be a committee to assets and resources.
It is voluntary. There is no obligation to participate either to
be a signatory to the agreement or no obligation to deploy should that
put your own system in place. There is no cost to be a member of a
WARN program. More importantly, the things that we don’t want to
deal with during an emergency like liability, workman’s comp issues, and
reimbursement processes—that legalese lawyer stuff is dealt with in the
agreement so everybody understand the rules of the sandbox.
Having two young boys, that is an important thing but it is really
important when you are in the midst of chaos to really understand the
processes and procedures and not be negotiating those things. The
WARN agreement also addresses the elements of NIMS, the National
Incident Management System. In fact by a utility being a
participant and signatory to the WARN program they help the community
they are a part of to be compliant with the NIMS criteria that has come
down from FEMA to the states and to the local community.
At the beginning it was seen as something for utilities in earthquake or
hurricane regions. Certainly that is where a lot of the growing
pains were with this process but as I will show you shortly it is a very
much all-hazard capability. It is not specific to any region or
type of event.
With the development of this document and agreement and demonstration we
had with Florida being very effective in their response to Hurricane
Katrina, and facilitating recovery of systems in Mississippi and
Alabama, we learned this could be a very effective approach and at a
national level we took the lead in facilitating a series of workshops in
collaboration with EPA across the country to introduce this concept and
model to the water sector.
I am going to show you a series of slides that are illustrative of this bottom-up approach and how it evolved.
In April of 2006 when we really started to kick off the workshops, at
the time you’ll recall that shortly after Hurricane Katrina there was
Hurricane Rita that really beat up on parts of the Texas coast.
They quickly adopted the model that was already in place in
Florida. In early 2006 we had three states that you will see as
Green means that they have multiple utilities as signatories to the WARN
agreement in that state and obviously on the backside of Hurricane
Katrina the gulf coast states were seriously considering this
As time went on and we were able to do a series of workshops you can see
that this is very much a bottom-up approach. The signatories to
this agreement are the utility owners and operators.
Whatever the name of the utility in your town, they would be the
signatory to the agreement and there are a number of cooperating
entities principally state emergency management and the state primacy
agencies that have regulatory oversight of the water sector as partners
along with the associations.
It is really important we have this relationship amongst the utilities
to evolve our situation awareness and also to provide a more effective
means of communication with the emergency management community to
understand what is going on in the water sector because of the critical
lifeline service that it provides.
Granted we are not a traditional emergency response sector but it is
very difficult to put out a fire or manage a hospital if there is no
water. As you can see in May 2007 after we have done a series of
workshops in less than a year’s time there is an active acknowledgement
of the value of the WARN model amongst utilities in the given
states. By May 2007 you have six states with the WARN program and
multiple in progress.
By January of 2008 it had jumped up to twenty.
As of right now we have 48 WARN programs in the United States which
includes the national capital region so technically there could
ultimately be 51 in the states. I’m very proud to say we have two
Canadian provinces that have adopted the model and several in
You can see that the water sector has taken this capability and has
demonstrated value from a bottom-up approach to becoming more
self-sufficient in the time of emergency. The types of assets and
resources that are available from utilities to assist other utilities
are relatively unique.
Those skill sets are not found within FEMA, EPA who is our federal
partners, or to some extent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which I’ll
speak to with regards to response to Sandy. We are close to each
other so we are able to move very quickly.
It is also important to understand what it is you need. One of the
things as this program and initiative evolved over time we realized it
was very important to be able to talk to each other with the principles
of NIMS in mind understanding to be very specific about what it is you
In that regard we took the initiative to develop a resource typing
manual that covers 24 standardized resource teams based on FEMA guides
for typing and resources. That is also available on the
NationalWARN.org website. This is really important because it sets
the stage, allows the utilities to think ahead in terms of types of
resources they could deploy should they become necessary.
In that case the ever-necessary costing issues that the bean counters at
the state emergency management, or insurance companies, or whoever is
in charge of reimbursement—they are going to want that
documentation. This sets up the process to begin capturing some of
that information that becomes very important.
As I said, the NationalWARN.org website has a number of different
resources. There is a page that has the WARN contacts and all the
states, Canadian provinces, along with the page I’m displaying here
which is actually the WARN resource page. It has a number of some
of the background materials, outreach materials that WARN uses in
different states to speak to either local officials or utilities about
the value of being a participant in this.
I think John will go into this more but one of the things that he was
instrumental in developing were some tabletop exercise resources and
operational plans. I think of it as the WARN agreement is having
the car and the ops plan is the driver education class—how you move the
thing. I’ll leave that for John to speak to in greater detail.
How does it work? The point here is the WARN program helps bridge
the gap. It does not require a federal declaration and it does
provide for private utilities resources. While the majority of
water systems are municipally based or independent authorities there are
systems that are private entities. The services they provide to
that community are just as critical as those provided by municipal
governments so it is very important for them to be able to work
This allows the utility to determine at the time the need occurs and
they know they are going to have a problem that exceeds their capacity
they can call on this system. It is not the only system but it is a
way they can expedite assets and resources that can help them
recover. Oftentimes it takes many weeks for a federal declaration
to occur. We don’t want to wait for that to happen to get
assistance to this critical lifeline sector.
As events evolve and become much more regional in scale such as
Hurricane Irene, Katrina or as we just experienced with Hurricane Sandy,
there becomes a need to potentially move assets across state
lines. Given that most utilities are municipal resources there are
in some cases state law barriers from moving assets across state lines
without appropriate protocols.
The EMAC model helps facilitate that so by having the WARN program
embedded as possible with the state emergency operation center as
resources exceed the capability of the utilities in that given state
they can reach up into the state EOC, put a request out via the EMAC
program and ideally that reaches down into surrounding states which then
connect into those WARN programs and see if the resources can be
We had a very excellent experience with our partners at EMAC during
Hurricane Sandy that I will explain in a little bit. For those in
emergency management community that are on the webinar today I would
strongly encourage you—if you don’t know John and I can provide the
contacts with your WARN program—get them into your state EOC. They
are a valuable asset in having operational and situational awareness of
the needs and the criticality and prioritization of those recoveries.
They can really help expedite the recovery of the communities that may have been impacted.
Has this ever worked? Yes. It has worked many times in many
places in many different things. You can see that California has
had several instances where they have dealt with earthquakes or
fires. I think one of the more unique situations was with the
Colorado WARN program. They were very effective in addressing a
salmonella outbreak and recovering that community very quickly within a
matter of weeks.
Florida has dealt with numerous hurricanes and tornados. Most
recently the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts WARN
programs were very busy at the end of October with the response to
Hurricane or Super Storm Sandy.
With respect to Hurricane Sandy it was the first time for New York to
have a very active mobilization especially in the downstate region of
Long Island and New York City area. The types of resources
exchanged amongst utilities included chlorination equipment, chainsaw
crews, motor dryers for a flooded wastewater facility and generators.
You can see that generators have been a very common thing. The
situation there was upwards of eight million plus people without
power—widespread devastation of the electric grid. Simply put
while many utilities have generators, generators are not meant to
operate for a week or two weeks without any kind of sustained
recovery. In some cases those things needed to be replaced.
In a case in New Jersey we had a situation where a utility did have
emergency generators but they were on natural gas, but the community was
going to have to close the natural gas line for safety purposes so they
had to bring in a diesel generator. As those requests stacked up
it became clear that the volume of need was going to exceed the state’s
capacity and friends within the EMAC program were very effective once we
had notification of those resources.
In fact it cleared upwards of nine or ten resource needs in a matter of
less than twenty-four hours to get those assets deployed to the benefit
of the water sector. We are very appreciative of that and are
encouraged that it is a system that can be expanded and applied in other
states. Hopefully it won’t be necessary but if and when it does
become necessary we know it can work well.
I would close here and cede the rest of the time to my friend
John. How valuable is participation? The benefit from a
utility perspective is a reduced loss of revenue. The faster I can
get my utility recovered the faster—obviously for the utility itself it
is recovery of the revenue stream of the utility—but it is also
important for the economy of that community.
If the water system and wastewater systems are not working we have some
real problems. The average cost of participation is very
low. The utility needs to agree to be a participant. If the
need occurs they deploy. The value of this public confidence in
the utility providing the service is quite priceless.
I hope a MasterCard people don’t call us up after this but I think it is
an effective way to communicate the use and value of WARN. The
bottom line is I don’t think any utility can afford not to
participate. For our friends in the emergency management community
to be a partner with WARN in assuring this vital lifeline sector is
sustained and recovers as quickly as possible—I think there will be time
at the end for questions.
This is my contact information which I am sure Amy will have posted elsewhere. I’ll cede the rest of my time to John.
John Whitler: Thanks, Kevin. I’m going to push the slides forward
here. I’m really excited to present with you today and have this
captive audience to learn about WARN. I’m going to focus on how EPA has
supported the WARN effort and touch on a few other related water sector
preparedness response and recovery resources we have.
This is a quick glimpse of the topics I am going to cover today.
Some are WARN activities. There is information about some fact sheets we
have on coordinating between water utilities and emergency management
agencies and I’ll finish with a discussion of our newly released
I like to start off the presentation by showing this diagram we put
together that I think shows how all the pieces of WARN fit
together. Using the foundation of the mutual aid and assistance
agreement this shows how the operational plan can help WARN members
activate that agreement and use it either in a real incident or an
We encourage our WARN members to develop after action reports from those
incidents or exercises and implement changes to their program based on
any concepts they come up with as part of the improvement planning
process. Finally it is showing how some of the documents such as
the resource typing manual that Kevin mentioned really support this
I think this shows how a lot of the pieces of the WARN program fit
together and I wanted to add that as a context at the beginning of my
We’ve been supporting tabletop exercises at EPA since 2008. These
are discussion based exercises really intended to bring together people
within the WARN that don’t normally have a chance to get together and
talk. Some of our WARN programs are more robust than others and
are able to do these meetings and exercises on their own but others need
the support of EPA to make this happen.
We’ve been doing these exercises for quite a few years now. One of
the things we like to do is bring as many key participants together as
possible. One of the audiences we have really been targeting
lately is emergency management agencies both at the local and state
level in figuring out how WARN can interact with those groups.
I would like to highlight the participation of non-WARN members in the
exercises. They get an opportunity to learn about the WARN and to
see it in action. Oftentimes we end up with new WARN members after
These exercises are objective based. I wanted to provide a couple
of objectives of what these objectives are. Some WARN programs
don’t have operational plans that support their agreement developed
yet. We spend some time at the exercises maybe at a morning
seminar to help work through development of operational plans in some
I mentioned this effort to integrate WARN into emergency management
agencies. We often spend time at the exercises working through
that and attracting non-members as well. I’m going to move forward
quickly from there.
This map shows where we have been able to support exercises between 2008
and 2012. In green are states that have received support from EPA
for an exercise. Those in the lighter blue color have done
exercises on their own. EPA has supported a total of 36 exercises
over the last five years. In 2013 we plan to host another eight
exercises. We are trying to reach every state that needs or wants
support in hosting an exercise and help them to become more robust and
more operationally efficient as a program through these exercises.
I mentioned the WARN Operational Plan and I’m going to give a quick
overview of what that is and how WARN programs use it. It is
basically the operational extension of the agreement that outlines the
procedures that are helpful to have in place before the agreement is
activated. I’ll go into more detail in the next couple of slides.
We have developed an operational plan template that is posted on the
NationalWARN.org website that provides a nice resource for WARN programs
to plug and play their information into that template. I want to
acknowledge that we did not make this concept up. It is not
original to us. There is a FEMA/NIMS independent study course
about operational plans that we based some of our materials off of for
This highlights the major categories or sections within the operational
plan—the concept of operations, how WARN is activated, how WARN members
mobilize resources, how the coordination works, and how they document
their efforts. We also provide some checklists and supporting
One of the things I think that are very valuable within the WARN
operational plan template are the checklists on things to consider prior
to deploying resources in support of a mutual aid request,
understanding what the conditions are going to be where your resources
are going to be deployed and also some tips for utilities that are
requesting resources on things they should have and provide for the
resources they are requesting to make sure they get used in the most
efficient and effective way.
There is a wealth of information in this template and quite a few WARN programs that have adopted these operational plans.
Very quickly I wanted to highlight one of our latest outreach efforts
which has been the development of some WARN videos. We recently
released the first two videos in the series. One is a short
background on what the WARN program is and the second video highlights
what the tabletop exercise effort has been about.
We have two additional videos under development. The first one
will highlight recent WARN responses and how WARN helped utilities
repair and recover their systems after an incident. The final one
will talk about successful examples of WARN coordination with emergency
management agencies. The EPA website for the WARN program will be
shown here at the end and it is on the EM Forum webpage but you can
access those videos from there.
I am going to shift gears just a little bit here. This is
something that Kevin and I have both touched upon. This is an
effort a little bit separate from the WARN work but very much
connected. This is a fact sheet we put out. It is eight
pages. Basically we wanted to make sure that utilities and
emergency management agencies understood how they can work together, why
they should work together and why that relationship is valuable.
You can see here this is an outline of some of the sections that are
within the document. We tried to highlight why this relationship
is mutually beneficial. For example emergency management agencies
cannot operate themselves unless they have water in their
facilities. That is a really basic one. Definitely a lack of
water service will complicate any response. We try to make sure
that is emphasized throughout this document as well.
We give some tips on how you can actually build that relationship with your emergency management agency at the local level.
In order to help facilitate that process we have provided a checklist of
actions that can really help build that relationship. This is a
summary of what is in the checklist—important things to consider such as
exchanging emergency contact information, understanding how water is
integrated into the local emergency operations center.
We see this time and time again—a lot of local agencies haven’t even
considered water infrastructure as part of their response efforts.
We try to encourage that coordination at the emergency operation center
Something that Kevin didn’t touch on but has been very active in is the
concept of alternative water supplies and understanding the capabilities
that exist at the utility level as well as the local and state
emergency management agency level. If the water service is
disrupted, are there plans for alternative water supplies? That is
a very important conversation to have in advance of an incident.
I’ll highlight one additional bullet here which is providing a tour of
facilities which I think can be valuable in many ways and maybe a fun
activity to help attract the emergency management agency to your utility
and make them aware of what is located at your facilities and if they
ever have to respond there what to expect.
One of the other sections of the document I wanted to give some
attention to today is we provide some case studies on the benefits that
have been realized by utilities and emergency management agencies when
they have made this relationship work. We go through and talk
about how a utility receives some funding for security improvements.
A utility also received funding to do some training from their emergency
management agency. We talk about emergency management agencies
have helped locate resources for utilities that they otherwise couldn’t
get and at times there are resources that through the WARN program may
not be available and an emergency management agency can help with
that. There are a lot of good case studies out there and hopefully
things utilities can build upon in their own communities.
I’m going to move on to the last topic I agreed to present today and
that is some information related to funding after an disaster happens
that can help a utility recover from an incident and potentially rebuild
themselves in a more resilient and sustainable way.
The first piece of information that we developed at EPA about this was a
fact sheet that we wanted to make sure utilities were aware of the FEMA
Public Assistance Program which can be a very valuable funding
mechanism for utilities to use after an incident but also a challenging
program to use if you haven’t planned in advance to use the program.
It is almost like learning a new language if you are in an incident
trying to learn what you need to do to access that funding. We
tried to give utilities some ideas on what work could be covered, how do
they actually access the reimbursement and other FAQs are in this
document—things like documenting pre and post condition of your
infrastructure with pictures is often helpful and making sure you
document the hours worked by your staff to make sure that all that is
We still had demand from our customers and from utilities for additional
information related to disaster recovery so I’m very happy to say we
recently released our FedFUNDS tool (Federal Funding for Utilities in
Natural Disasters). This is a more comprehensive website web-based
tool. There are five basic sections of the tool.
There is a section that asks utility questions to determine which
funding source is potentially the right source for them to go to.
There is a section that provides resources to help prepare for accessing
these funds. I’ll show a screenshot of one of those in a moment.
There is a basic overview of the six programs that I will mention on the
next slide that we have chosen to highlight at FedFUNDS. One of
the most useful sections in my mind is “Utility Examples”—actual
utilities that have gone through the process and copies of their
applications for funding. There are training materials and other
assistance. I give more detail about that in a later slide.
Currently in a disaster if you haven’t been able to look at a tool
previously we really summarize some of the key things you would need in
an actual incident or directly after an incident—some of the forms, cost
information and things like that which would be helpful to have at your
fingertips. It is a very powerful tool and it is very resource
rich. I’m going to highlight a couple of additional pieces before
we wrap up.
I want to show a screenshot of the funding program overview
screen. You can see we highlight the FEMA Public Assistance Grant
Program, FEMA Mitigation Program, the USDA Emergency Water Grants
program, the EPA State Revolving Funds, HUD Community Grants and SBA
Loans. Those are the six programs that are includes.
There are multiple categories of information that are provided about
each one of these programs and I don’t have time to go into detail to
show you all of that today but I encourage you to check it out on your
There is also a great deal of information embedded within the tool so
there are multiple PDF documents to provide quick summary level
information on important topics. So in addition to that fact sheet
on highlighting what the public assistance program is within this
FedFUNDS tool we also talk about what some of the lessons learned from
utilities that have actually used the program are.
This is a great example of one of the products contained within FedFUNDS that folks might want to check out at some point.
This is additional information on utility examples, training and
assistance. What I’ll highlight here are the funding
mentors. We have provided contact information for utilities and
other people at the federal level that have agreed to and are available
to assist any utility in need of working through some of these federal
Talk about a great resource of being able to call one of your colleagues
to understand how they went through the process of obtaining these
funds—I think that is a really special component of the Fed FUNDS
tool and I encourage everyone to check it out.
While I have the floor I didn’t want to be remiss in mentioning a couple
of our other related preparedness products. We have a plethora of
tools. I have highlighted a couple—a tool that we have on how to
do a tabletop exercise. We offer ICS and NIMS training that has
been customized for water utilities.
We have a laboratory support program within my division. We
provide a database of contaminant information that we support and we
also have an economic analysis tool for what happens with a water
Kevin and I have both used this slide multiple times. It sort of
states the obvious. Emergencies are local and you need a local
response capability. WARN helps provide that at a low or no
cost. We are really interested in making sure utilities can
maintain their operations. Disruptions in service both
impact the utility as well as the community.
Anybody who has been through a disaster and has lost their water service
can attest to the fact of how great it is to get that water restored as
quickly as possible. We think that WARN and some of these other
mechanisms we talked about today can really facilitate that process for
I appreciate your attention and everybody joining today. Here is
my contact information and the website where some of the resources I
have talked about today can be found. Thank you very much.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much both of you gentlemen. Excellent
program, excellent resources, and an excellent example of neighbors
helping neighbors. We will proceed to our Q & A. Please keep
your question or comment related to today’s topic and reasonably
concise. If you can address your question to Kevin or John by name, that
would be helpful.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Richard Vandame: Are there plans to offer any of the resources as NIMS typed resources?
Kevin Morely: That is a good question. We have been
in some discussions with FEMA on that and I don’t have a resolution to
that question. I can offer is that the water utilities themselves
are using this resource to frame their responses. Sometimes things
become quite simple but the purpose of this document is to anticipate
things that are potentially a larger scale need. It addresses both
the resources—the actual physical assets like backhoes, trackhoes,
Jet-Vac trucks—-and the crews that would be assembled with them.
So it is a team approach which is a mission ready package type model
that EMAC is promoting. EMAC, our partners with NEMA and EMAC have
been very encouraged by this and have reference this. I think
FEMA has moved a little bit on some direction on this. In fact,
some of the draft material they put out a couple of years ago leveraged
this quite heavily—that process within FEMA, I don’t have clarity as to
what the outcome of that will be at this point in time.
Shawn Smith: Kevin: Does WARN utilize any specific
software technologies to facilitate TTXs, resource sharing, or
coordinated response efforts?¬
Kevin Morely: I’ll speak to WARN first. I will say there
are different degrees of software applications amongst the WARNs.
Some are more centralized than others and some are a bit more
de-centralized in the sense that they rely on not a centralized
distribution of resource requests. It is really amongst the
utilities to make the contact amongst each other.
That is where the resource typing material comes into play.
Several—I don’t have a good firm count on top of my head—have a resource
database that they host as part of their website on the member’s only
side. Let’s just say, I’m here in the D.C. area, let’s say for instance
Fairfax decides they need some type of resource.
They can look out and see that folks down in Newport News have
that. “I’m going to call John and see if he is able to bring that
to me.” Other systems are a bit more automated. I think
Texas would be a great example in that they have a very strong
capability to have a forward lean where they have a system that can call
out to utilities and use—I can’t think of the software off the top of
my head but a text email system to get some information about the
operational status of the utility.
This was very useful during events like Hurricane Ike or Gustav—I can’t
remember which one. I think they got a little piece of both of
those. If they got no response they knew there were likely to be
communication issues so they were able to use that information.
They have—I think this is an important point to make—Texas and many
other states, the WARN actually has a seat either physically or
virtually in the EOC as a part of Emergency Support Function Number
Three which is where we fall into the National Framework. That has
been extremely effective.
In fact, New York did not have that status prior to Sandy and I think
based on the knowledge that the New York WARN program was able to share
with state emergency management they have come to the realization that
they need to have a more direct communication link. There are
varying degrees and no formal process by which that can occur because
that becomes resource intensive from a financial perspective. That
is why the partnership with the emergency management community is
Amy Sebring: These WARNs are basically run at the state
level under the framework—how are they typically organized in terms of
being a board or something like that to shepherd it along?
Kevin Morely: There are a number of associate members in
addition to the signatory so most of the national associations have
state level sections or affiliates—the AFWA, Water Environment
Federation—and many of those associations provide some of the
administrative support if you will. There is some sort of steering
committee or board that oversees the agreement and facilitates
information exchanges during an incident as necessary. They are kind of
autonomous. The agreement is only active when there is a need
between two entities.
Amy Sebring: Do these typically have to go through some state
legislative approval or are the existing mutual aid laws in most of the
states already available?
Kevin Morely: In most states the laws of mutual aid are
permissive of municipalities or entities within a municipality to enter
into this type of agreement. The only exception there would be in a
few states there are some awkward prohibitions on the inclusions of the
“private sector”. It is not like we are having Wal-Mart or Home
Depot be a signatory, it is a critical lifeline sector that happens to
be privately held.
The mechanism by which a utility or community gets approval is usually
through their board or city council giving them the go ahead to be a
signatory to the agreement.
Clarence Warnstaff: Please expand on the Water Laboratory Alliance.
John Whitler: I’m not the expert on our Water Laboratory
Alliance Program but basically that program has been set up in response
to HSPD-9 to enable the water sector to have the appropriate level of
capacity of laboratory resources should there be a large scale disaster
especially one involving CBRN contaminants which most folks know have
specialized laboratory requirements.
The EPA working under the umbrella of the Environmental Response
Laboratory Network and the partners at CDC and other federal agencies
have been supporting this concept of a more robust and coordinated
laboratory program. There is a lot of information via the web link
provided at the end of my presentation to access that..
Richard Pedlar: Who is responsible for making contact with WLA, WARN or EOC?
John Whitler: Should a utility require assistance that may be
accessed through the WLA—I think there are a variety of mechanisms to
access that support. It could be directly through the utility to the
state primacy agency to the EPA region or there could be emergency
management agencies that are also linked in and would know how to
contact the appropriate contact within the WLA for that.
It would vary. We actually have developed a response plan and do
exercises related to that activity to make sure everyone knows.
Robert Forgione: There seem to be numerous resources available
through various agencies (AWWA, EPA, FEMA, etc.). Can you provide a
single list of what resources a WARN utility member should have in a
file for reference in case of an emergency?
John Whitler: I am not sure what you are asking. Could you expand on the question?
Robert Forgione: I saw requests for Hurricane Sandy assistance
from Water ISAC, but not from VA WARN. From speaking with our
local WARN folks, it appears that there is no link from a State's
request for help to adjacent state WARNS. What is being done to
Kevin Morley: I’m not sure specifically what the Water ISAC
request may have been about but I’ll apply the example from Hurricane
Sandy and pass events. I host a daily call with the WARNs if it is
an event of the scale of Sandy to have some coordination and situation
awareness amongst the WARNs which then results in a daily situation
briefing that we post to the WARN situation report page.
The Water ISAC is involved with that. I suspect the communication
that they may be referencing—and I’ll be happy to follow up
afterwards—may have reflected on some of the issues that were coming out
of that situation briefing amongst them principally being generator
issues but also fuel supply issues were critical.
That wouldn’t necessarily be a resource that a utility would supply to
another although that did occur. It may have been also the Water
ISAC shared information with the National Infrastructure Coordination
Center and sometimes they receive specific information requests, or
requests for information from DHS that they communicate out.
There was one in regard to chemical supply issues that may have emerged.
It could be a variety of things. I assure you though that we do
speak with each other. I’m not saying it can’t be improved.
Peter Navratil: I work in a region with a population of 2M spread
around 22 municipalities with a Regional district that provide source
water to municipalities. I would like to propose a WARN
mutual aid model. Any suggestions on how to coordinate the mutual
aid effort during the event? Does WARN encourage a unified command
Kevin Morley: I think the short answer is yes. But again in
that case it is why it is so critical for the emergency management
community to have some representation from the water sector in the EOC
to help facilitate that communication. WARN doesn’t solve all
those problems. Some of these things are cascading upon each
other. Having that in the EOC really helps channel that
information so you can get good visibility on the situation. I’d
be happy to follow up more on the particular community he is mentioning.
John Whitler: We definitely utilize the concepts and
operate within the constraints of ICS and NIMS. Our guidance
documents show how we do that.
Paula Scalingi: Does EPA have an infrastructure interdependencies
analysis tool that can be customized for water utilities to use
in-house or with local and regional utilities and service providers?
John Whitler: I wouldn’t say there is a specific interdependency
tool but there are a variety of resources that we do maintain on our
website that relate to interdependencies and also provide guidance on
how to work with critical customers and helping them understand the
impacts of loss of water service. I would direct you to our
website to find those pieces of information.
Kevin Morley: I would add two examples of that we have been
involved in is a document on planning for emergency water supply and a
more detailed one that CDC was a part of on a similar thing but
specifically for hospitals and health care facilities. A lot of
these systems take the water system for granted.
It is very rare that the water system goes out compared to power.
Not to knock power, but when water goes off people get grumpy very
quickly. They don’t often think about that it could actually go
away. Those two documents address those issues amongst the other
things John noted.
Bob Davisson: My local community is served by a central well with
160 housing units. We are categorized as a public water system, but
have little in the way of resources that we could offer to others in
case of an incident. What value can we bring to WARN in our state
Kevin Morley: There has often been a discussion that this
is a big systems thing versus a small systems thing. I would
submit that just because you don’t have a backhoe or crew truck or
materials, you certainly have knowledge. Whether you act as a
member of the steering committee to facilitate information
exchange—sometimes the thing that is of greatest need is people.
Maybe you only have a crew of five or ten people but if they can
potentially rotate in to let a guy who has had his house wash away go
home and rest that is just as important as physical equipment.
Marsha Hovey: Not a question. Just FYI for Emergency
Managers. Northern California has developed a County and Local
Government Emergency Operations Center Plan and Job Aids for Water and
Wastewater that we're willing to share. Marsha Hovey firstname.lastname@example.org
Avagene Moore: Gentlemen: It's good to see you are stressing the
value and mutual benefits of the utilities and local EMA working
together. Are you receiving good examples of the reception of the
concept plus how it has enhanced preparedness and response activities?
John Whitler: Yes, absolutely. I think one of the
places that I am observing this coordination is when we support these
tabletop exercises. Sometimes going into the exercise the
utilities and their emergency management agencies aren’t as
well-connected as they would like to be and we have actually seen as a
direct result of these tabletop exercises WARN programs receiving
dedicated seats at state emergency operation centers as well as
utilities being acknowledged within their local or county level
emergency management agency operation center.
I just think we are seeing more and more of that across the country and
it is very encouraging to see those relationships developing because
that coordination is really essential during an emergency.
Amy Sebring: If we have emergency managers here in our audience
and they haven’t heard from their WARN they maybe they should go look
John Whitler: Indeed.
Amy Sebring: We have run over on our time but lots good questions
and comments. If we could not get to your question today that contact
information is available in the slide deck so please do feel free to get
in touch with our quests.
On behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our participants today, thank you
very much Kevin and John for being with us and taking the time, and all
your efforts on this worthwhile initiative. We wish you continued
success with it in the future.
Folks, before you go, PLEASE take a moment to do the rating and enter any additional comments you may have.
Our next program is scheduled for December 12th when our topic will be
pre-disaster recovery planning and our guest will be Carolyn Harshman,
President of Emergency Planning Consultants, located in San Diego,
California. Please make a note on your calendar and plan to join
Have a great afternoon everyone! We are adjourned. Thank you.