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Flood Preparedness in the Water/Wastewater Sector (WaterISAC)

Flood Preparedness in the Water/Wastewater Sector (WaterISAC)

Created: Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 16:20
Emergency Response & Recovery, Federal & State Resources, Natural Disasters

WaterISAC has compiled a set of resources for you to consider as you prepare for potential flooding scenarios. All of the linked resources here are available through WaterISAC.

Tools & Apps

U.S. EPA’s Water Security Division has produced a number of very useful tools to support flood (and other disaster) preparedness. WaterISAC recommends beginning with EPA’s Incident Action Checklist – Flooding. The checklist offers a detailed to-do list that water and wastewater utilities can use to prepare for, respond to and recover from flooding. EPA’s Water Utility Response On-The-Go app and mobile website provide contact information for emergency response partners, interactive incident-specific checklists and damage assessment forms, Incident Command System procedures and resources, and links to weather information. FedFUNDS provides utilities with pre-disaster and post-disaster funding tips and sample forms and links for documenting damages and requesting federal aid. All of these Water Security Division products are gateways to additional EPA tools and guides.

Mutual Aid

WaterISAC encourages all water and wastewater systems to participate in their state Water/Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARNs). These mutual aid organizations facilitate the deployment of expertise and resources to help systems affected by natural disasters and other emergencies to restore services. Visit National WARN and EPA’s mutual aid webpages. Mutual aid across state boundaries is usually coordinated through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).


In addition to being the only clearinghouse of preparedness, threat and mitigation information specifically for the Water and Wastewater Sector, WaterISAC is a communication hub during disasters. For instance, WaterISAC has served as a match-maker between utilities in need and those with resources to offer. And its direct linkages to the ISACs of other critical infrastructure sectors, such as electricity, communications, health and chemicals, provides WaterISAC (and thus its members) with access to critical and timely operational information.

Finally, where there is a need for federal information or facilitation, WaterISAC leverages its relationships with FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. EPA, and other agencies.

Emergency Public Communications

Effective communication with the public is critical during emergencies, particularly when water supply contamination is a concern. EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center produced Need to Know: Anticipating the Public's Questions during a Water Emergency to help utilities improve public messaging. The report consists of the results of interviews with utility managers, communications staff and focus groups comprising members of the public. The conclusions can help utilities develop a public engagement strategy in advance of a water emergency. WaterISAC hosted a webinar on the report; the recording and slides are available on the WaterISAC portal.

For other guidance on communicating with the public, watch the two-part WaterISAC webinar

Public Notification in Water Contamination Events and Outages. When developing drinking water advisories, consult the Drinking Water Advisory Communication Toolbox by CDC, EPA and AWWA.

Social Media

Social media can be used both for risk communication and situational awareness. Utilities can use their social media accounts to post alerts about emergency conditions, issue notifications for boil water advisories and respond to rumors about water quality. Social media can also be a good source of situational information from: other utilities, emergency management and health agencies, police departments, and other agencies. Information can also be gathered from the social media accounts of local news sources or individual users.

Personal Preparedness

There are numerous sources, tips and suggestions about personal preparedness. Start with, including its information on water. Useful tips and resources are also available through America's PrepareAthon!.