Risk & Resilience Assessments And ERPs

Questions Concerning New AWIA Requirements? We’ve got answers.

Community water systems that serve more than 3,300 people are required to complete a Risk and Resilience Assessment as well as develop an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) under Section 2013 of America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018.

What is a Risk and Resilience Assessment?

Risk and Resilience Assessments evaluate the vulnerabilities, threats, and consequences from potential hazards, including:

  • Natural hazards and malevolent acts
  • Resilience of water facility infrastructure
  • Monitoring practices
  • Financial systems
  • Chemical storage and handing
  • Operation and maintenance

With this new requirement, utilities must conduct the assessment and submit certification of its completion to the U.S. EPA by:

  • March 31, 2020 if serving >= 100k people
  • December 31, 2020 if serving 50k-99,999 people
  • June 30, 2021 if serving 3,301 to 49,999 people

When do water utilities need to get their Risk and Resilience Assessments re-certified?

Your utility must review the Risk and Resilience Assessment and submit a re-certification to the U.S. EPA every five years.

What is included in an ERP for drinking water utilities?

ERPs are critical for drinking water utilities as they provide plans and procedures for responding to a natural hazard or malevolent act that threatens safe drinking water. Preparing and practicing an ERP can save lives, prevent illness, enhance security, minimize property damage and lessen liability. Included in the plan are actions and identified equipment that are necessary to lessen the impact of a natural hazard, including alternative water sources and the relocation of intakes and flood protection barriers.

When do water utilities need to certify completion of their ERPs?

After completion of the risk and resiliency assessment, utilities must develop or update an Emergency Response Plan and certify completion to US EPA no later than six months after the risk and resiliency assessment certification.

When do water utilities need to get their ERPs re-certified?

Within six months of submitting the re-certification for the risk and resilience assessment, utilities must certify they have reviewed and, if necessary, revised, their emergency response plan.

Where can I find more information?

The U.S. EPA has a wealth of information on their website regarding these two new requirements. Use the links below to learn more.

Tata & Howard Can Help

Tata & Howard offers consulting services to assist water suppliers in completing the Risk and Resilience Assessment as well as update Emergency Response Plans to meet AWIA requirements. In addition, Tata & Howard offers flexible, one- and two-day training programs to assist water utilities and operators in obtaining the required ERP training. Training programs are approved for 7 Training Contact Hours by the MA board of Certification of Operators of Drinking Water Supply Facilities.

For additional guidance, assistance with meeting the AWIA requirements, or to schedule an ERP training session, please contact Michael Knox, Client Service Specialist at 508.925.7559 or by email at MKnox@TataandHoward.com.

Giving Thanks – for Water!

It is widely known how important water is to our lives and the world we live in. Our body and planet is comprised of about 70% water – making it seem like it is easily accessible and plentiful. However, when you rule out our oceans and ice caps, less than 1% of all the water on Earth is drinkable. Of that less than 1%, groundwater only accounts for 0.28% of fresh water around the globe. Safe drinking water is a privilege we often take for granted while we brush our teeth or drink a glass of water in the morning. While we are giving thanks to our family, friends, and food during Thanksgiving, we should also give big thanks for our clean drinking water and the people who make it happen.

The Importance of Clean Water 

hauling_water_in_malawi
Villagers in Malawi travel miles to find and transport water which is rarely safe for human consumption.

Keeping yourself hydrated can do wonders for your health. The benefits water provides for our bodies range from relieving headaches, flushing toxins out of the body, improving mood, helping with weight loss, and relieving fatigue. In the U.S., we are fortunate enough to have some of the cleanest drinking water anywhere in the world to keep us healthy and safe. In other countries and for some 783 million people, that is not the case. Many do not have access to sufficient drinking water and the water they do have often contains dangerous pathogens. Often, unclean water sources are miles from villages and some people are forced to spend hours each day simply finding and transporting water. The typical container used for water collection could weigh between 40 and 70 pounds when filled. Imagine how difficult it would be to carry the equivalent of a 5-year-old child for three hours out of each day just to have water to drink. With so many people not having access to clean drinking water around the world, it is important to appreciate the plentiful and safe drinking water we have here in America.

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A visual diagram of water and wastewater distribution systems. Click the image to see full size.

A Special Thanks for the People Who Make Our Water Safe

When looking at America’s clean water, it is especially important to give special thanks to the water and wastewater utilities that work nonstop to give us some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. Despite the fact that our country has beautiful rivers and lakes, the water that comes from them to our taps goes through several processes that require a lot of work and maintenance. Our water and wastewater utilities maintain some of the highest standards in the world when it comes to drinking water, and new innovations for treatment and distribution are always being researched and implemented. Water and wastewater employees work tirelessly to meet regulatory requirements and preserve local waterways despite major setbacks like deteriorating infrastructure and shrinking funding for necessary projects. On top of treating our water, utilities are responsible for keeping their distribution systems running efficiently and also to being stewards to the environment through improving effluent quality. Our water utilities are arguably the most important utilities in the nation because water is so crucial to our survival.

In Conclusion

We are so incredibly fortunate here in the United States to not have to think twice about the purity of water from the tap, a glass of water in a restaurant, a highway rest stop, an airport, or motel – all thanks to our water and wastewater utilities. For that, we should be especially thankful. This Thanksgiving, be sure to give special thanks for having safe drinking water and to the dedicated, hard-working people at water and wastewater utilities.

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Smart Grid Water Networks: Part of the Water Efficiency Arsenal

Water-Grid-FeatureThe impacts of global climate change have driven governments, businesses, and communities around the world to consider efficiency and conservation in all areas of our lives, rethink business plans, and reconsider the relationships between people and resources to create a more sustainable future.

Nowhere is this focus on sustainability clearer than in water utilities. Faced with an aging distribution infrastructure in need of overhauling, growing populations, and shrinking supply, utilities are struggling with developing innovative, yet cost effective, ways to maintain and improve already maxed out water systems.

Just as smart metering has shed light on our energy use, utilities, environmental groups, and governments are beginning to look to smart metering to help with water conservation.

What is Smart Networks and Metering? AMI vs. AMR

A smart water network – or smart grid for water – may be the next big thing as communities around the world come to terms with water scarcity and the need for water conservation.  The crux of the smart water network is advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology. AMI can provide a remote and constant two-way communication link between utilities, meters and consumers via the usual communications technologies (broadband, fiber optic cable, wireless, etc.).

As a key component of a smart water network, smart water meters integrated with sensing technologies give water utilities advanced tools for more efficiently measuring water consumption and providing water customers with data to help them monitor their water usage and reduce costs.  Often known as “smart lite”, advanced meter reading (AMR) technology, one-way information gathering from customer to utility is seen as a cost effective approach to accurate billing and leakage. This solves the bulk of many water utility needs.

Benefits – Knowledge is Power

Smart metering increases the information available to the customer which helps them better understand and curb their water use.

Preliminary investigation indicates that customers with displays are more likely to use less water. However, installing monitors at each customer site may come with a price tag water utilities find difficult to afford. As a result, many elect less expensive ways to provide consumption details, such as Web sites or printouts enclosed with bills. Although surveys indicate that customers prefer the on-site display, web portals are another effective method to link concerned customers to information on how to lower consumption and/or bills.

Smart metering also delivers valuable data to utilities. For example, utilities can use the data collected to detect customer-premises leaks from their end. Utilities could also use the technology to identify possible leaks at commercial and industrial properties with round-the-clock water use.

More over, according to UN-Water, approximately 8% of the world’s energy production is used for pumping, treating and transporting water. Saved water means saved energy—a double benefit—and a better future for generations to come.

Smart water networks have evolved to the point where they can reliably produce the benefits described above, within very reasonable payback periods. While many jurisdictions are contemplating extreme measures – water rationing, desalinization plants, building canals hundreds of miles long – smart water networks can reclaim 20% to 40% of water that is typically lost to leaks and theft, according to SmartGridNews.com.

So What’s the Catch?

While there are increasing studies looking at the benefits and uses of smart metering, utilities are not overlooking the price tag that comes along with the technology.    Additionally, the jury is still out whether or not customers will embrace yet another judgement on their lifestyle.  In the early days of energy metering, some utilities paid big bucks to have local  energy use comparisons printed on customer bills.  The frowning face on high energy-use customers’ bills did very little to encourage conservation and win over utilities good intentions with the public.

There are still many challenges in network understanding and costs analysis that make smart water networks slow in development. Despite the many benefits, justifying the implementation of the technology to support smart metering will require cooperation and support from local and regional governments, communities, and above all, customers.

Careful planning and close scrutiny of all the costs associated with implementing a smart water network will allow utilities to plan for scaleable implementation of this technology.

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