Emergency Preparedness

Why Staff Needs to Know the Plan Ahead of Time

Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” While this remains true for all facets of life and community responsibility, the notion of emergency preparedness is critical, particularly within the water sector. Emergency preparedness strategies are designed to ensure that all processes can run smoothly during a crisis, and that clean, safe drinking water and sanitary services will continue to be provided to customers.

While many utilities may be more prepared now than at the start of the pandemic, additional work may be needed to document plans and procedures. By preparing written plans, a utility can be stronger and more prepared for any emergency or crisis.

The most common (and required) method of emergency preparedness for water suppliers and utilities are Emergency Response Plans (ERP). ERPs are mandatory for all public water suppliers, and public water systems in Massachusetts are required to provide a minimum of 10 hours of Emergency Response training annually for all employees. Trainings help water system managers and staff explore vulnerabilities, make improvements, and establish procedures to follow during an emergency. Preparing and implementing a response plan can save lives, prevent illness, enhance system security, minimize property damage, and lessen liability.

There are many components to an ERP, each playing a key role in mitigating issues.

  • EPA Certification Form
  • Introduction
  • Response Plans
  • Emergency Planning
  • Mitigation
  • Emergency Response Plan Policies
  • Water System Policies
  • Telephone Contact Numbers
  • Critical Customers
  • System Information
  • Emergency Action Plans
  • Incident Specific Emergency Action Plans
  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • Interconnection Agreements
  • Standard Operating Procedures
  • Comprehensive Flushing Program

Outside of ERPs, many utilities are finding it helpful to implement additional emergency preparedness initiatives into their ERPs. Whether the crisis is a pandemic, a flood, or a natural disaster, keeping staff educated, informed, and in the loop will prevent additional issues from arising during an emergency.

By asking the right questions and preparing in advance, your utility can clarify the roles and responsibilities of personnel and identify any additional mitigation measures and preparedness needs.

Some important questions to raise in implementing additional emergency preparedness measures include:

  • Does the utility have all of the proper written protocols in place?
  • Has the utility defined all critical positions?
  • Have back-ups been identified for each critical position?
  • How do we keep staff safe?
  • Are there opportunities for improvement?
  • Are there gaps in knowledge of personnel, health and safety measures, or security that should be improved upon?

By answering these and other questions, a plan can be developed and easily followed by all staff members. A solid and well thought out plan leaves little room for interpretation and clearly defines roles and responsibilities, as well as the hierarchy of authority.

Once the emergency preparedness measures are in place, be sure that all staff and personnel are informed and properly trained. This will eliminate panic and provide additional assurance should a crisis arise in the future. Additionally, if staff are prepared and aware of their roles and responsibilities, there will be a smaller gap in service for customers.

Benefits to staff in being prepared for emergencies include:

  • Decreased feeling of vulnerability
  • Reduction of fear and anxiety
  • Confidence in roles and responsibilities
  • Increased awareness of utility’s commitment to the safety of the team
  • Knowing what to expect

Interested in implementing additional emergency preparedness training within your utility? Tata & Howard offers several training options and formats including:

  • ERP Training
  • Tabletop Exercises

For more information, please contact Karen Gracey at kgracey@tataandhoward.com or 508. 219.4021.

Current Infrastructure Proposals in the USA

Earlier this year, President Biden announced his American Jobs Plan – a historic investment that will rebuild our country’s aging infrastructure while also providing millions of good jobs.

The nearly 2.3 trillion-dollar investment will aid in reimagining a new economy and positioning America to be the leader in infrastructure and innovation once again.

Within the total investment, 40 percent will target climate issues and clean infrastructure. In terms of improving infrastructure alone, President Biden’s new plan will:

Fix 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets; rebuild bridges in despair; and upgrade airports, ports and transit centers in the areas that need them most.

  • $115 billion to repair roads and bridges
  • $85 billion for public transit
  • $80 billion for Amtrak
  • $25 billion for airports
  • $17 billion for ports and waterways
  • $44 billion for transformative projects
  • $20 billion for safety
  • $20 billion to redress historic inequity (such as reconnecting neighborhoods divided by major roadways)

Rebuild clean drinking water infrastructure by removing all lead pipes and service lines; renew electric grid and cap orphan oil and gas wells; and bring affordable high-speed broadband to all including the 35% of rural Americans who currently lack access.

  • $101 billion to upgrade drinking, wastewater, and stormwater systems
  • $10 billion for PFAS remediation
  • $100 billion for energy grid buildouts
  • $50 billion to improve infrastructure resilience
  • $100 billion to improve rural broadband coverage (includes subsidies to make rates more affordable)

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan will be funded by raising the corporate tax rate, part of his ‘Made in America Tax Plan’, which would hopefully pay for the American Jobs Plan within 15 years (if passed alongside each other).

In response to President Biden’s proposed plan, Senate Republicans offered a counterproposal in efforts to improve the country’s aging infrastructure. This plan is solely focused on infrastructure needs and endorses $568 billion for new spending over five years.

The funds will be allocated in the following ways:


  • $299 billion for repairing roads, highways, and bridges
  • $44 billion for airports
  • $61 billion for public transit
  • $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater systems
  • $14 billion for water storage
  • $20 billion for railways
  • $17 billion for ports and inland waterways
  • $13 billion for safety measures
  • $65 billion for broadband internet access

This infrastructure plan would be fully funded, potentially in part through user fees on electric vehicles as well as repurposing state and local relief passed as part of coronavirus aid bills.

President Biden will be meeting with six Republican senators to hopefully come to a mutual compromise later this week.

Employee Spotlight: Karen Gracey

Employee Spotlight #5: Karen Gracey. Over the last 25 years, she has held each role at the company, starting first as a summer intern, and working her way up to Co-President.

With a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Vermont, Karen is passionate about environmental engineering and fixing problems to make a positive impact with each project she is a part of. She enjoys hydraulic modeling and system analysis as each project offers an opportunity to figure out why certain issues are happening with a water system.

Karen’s favorite project at T&H to date was the company’s first Capital Efficiency Plan completed for the Connecticut Water Company for the Unionville System. Conducting research, collaborating on the various sections of the report, and then writing it from scratch was a fun and fulfilling task.

When she isn’t at T&H, Karen enjoys cooking, skiing, and relaxing at the beach. A trip to Napa Valley with her brother and sister a few years ago is one of her favorite travel memories. Driving in a limo to small vineyards in Sonoma Valley and Russian River provided lots of delicious wine, beautiful landscapes, and spending time with family.

Fun Fact: During the summer of her internship at T&H, Karen dove headfirst into hydraulic modeling and water main design. In addition, she also learned a lot about blueline machines. For those who are not familiar, blueline machines use black lights and ammonia to copy a drawing printed on vellum onto special paper. Copying one drawing would take a minute or two, so imagine making multiple copies of water treatment plant drawings! 

Thanks for all you do, Karen!

Drinking Water Week 2021

Water professionals are “There When You Need It” during Drinking Water Week and every week

Taking place this week from May 2-8, Drinking Water Week offers consumers an opportunity to recognize the hardworking people performing various roles to ensure that clean and safe drinking water is “There When You Need It.”

Tata & Howard, Inc. and partners throughout North America are observing Drinking Water Week by recognizing the vital role water plays in daily life, the infrastructure that is required to carry it to and from homes and businesses, and the important work of water professionals behind the scenes.

Whether it’s a water engineer designing a water treatment facility, an operator ensuring the safety and quality of drinking water, or a member of a pipe crew maintaining the infrastructure in our community, water professionals work around the clock to ensure water is there when you need it.

“Providing clean, safe, and reliable drinking water is a critical role that water professionals dedicate their lives to,’ said Tata & Howard’s Co-President Karen Gracey. “Day in and day out, even when faced with a pandemic and added challenges, water professionals do their best to be prepared and ensure the water reaching everyone in the community is there when needed.”

The work they are performing throughout the pandemic, often sacrificing time with their family, is nothing short of heroic. I am proud to be associated with them,” said American Water Works Association CEO David LaFrance.

To commemorate the week, water utilities, water organizations, government entities, environmental advocates, schools, and others throughout North America and beyond are encouraging consumers to learn more about the importance of water and water infrastructure, especially in times of crisis.

To learn more about the work that Tata & Howard performs to ensure safe drinking water, visit our website at http://www.tataandhoward.com.

About Drinking Water Week
For several decades, AWWA and its members have celebrated Drinking Water Week, a unique opportunity for both water professionals and the communities they serve to join together in recognizing the vital role water plays in daily lives. Free materials for download and additional information about Drinking Water Week are available on the Drinking Water Week webpage.

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Founded in 1992, Tata & Howard, Inc. is a 100% employee-owned water, wastewater, and stormwater consulting engineering firm dedicated to consistently delivering innovative, cost-effective solutions in the water environment. Tata & Howard has gained a solid reputation as an industry leader in the Northeast by bringing knowledge, integrity, and dedicated service to all-sized markets, both public and private. The firm has offices in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Arizona. For more information, visit http://www.tataandhoward.com.

View press release here.