Today’s question: Are water utilities prepared for natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods?
Plain Talk answer: Water utilities have emergency response plans (ERPs) that provide them with a course of action in the event of a natural disaster or security breach. This plan will detail how potable water is to be delivered to consumers if something happens to the water supply or treatment and distribution facilities, and most utilities train on the ERP regularly.
That said, there is always the chance that something will happen that completely destroys a facility and prohibits utility personnel from working. If this were to happen, a utility could receive assistance from other water suppliers in neighboring communities, or even other states, through a program called WARN, which stands for Water and Wastewater Agency Response Networks. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for example, water department operators from Portland, Ore., assisted in the recovery of the New Orleans water and wastewater systems.
For more information on this and many other water-related topics, check out Plain Talk About Drinking Water by Dr. James M. Symons.