New Law Requires Utilities to Update Risk Assessments and Emergency Response Plans

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To ensure utilities are properly prepared and equipped to handle health threats and other dangers, Congress created the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA). The act requires risk assessments for drinking water systems and emergency response plans that incorporates the findings of these assessments to improve the resilience of the system. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a certification process to help utilities comply with the new requirements as well. 

In October 2018, this act became a law and created many new requirements, including that community water systems serving more than 3,300 people must develop or update Risk and Resiliency Assessments and Emergency Response Plans (ERP). The law specifies which components the risk assessments and ERPs must address and establishes deadlines for water systems to certify completion of the risk assessment and ERP. The law focuses on specific water infrastructure projects being undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Although the risks may seem dire, taking proper precautions will reduce most of the uncertainty. The AWIA act is a step towards better health and cybersecurity safety. Cyberattacks are increasing monumentally each year. As a result, the monitoring and maintenance practices are suitable to ensure security. The assessment might even include an evaluation of capital and operational needs for risk and resilience management for the system.

The AWIA requires that each system must prepare or revive an ERP that incorporates the findings of the assessment no later than six months after certifying completion of its Risk and Resilience Assessment. The plan must include strategies and resources to improve the resilience of the system, including the physical security and cybersecurity of the system. This includes plans and procedures that can be implemented in the event of a malevolent act or natural hazard that threatens the ability of the community water system to deliver safe drinking water.

Depending on the population size, risk assessments must be completed by March 31,2020 – June 30, 2021.  For more information on the AWIA act or to schedule your risk assessment, contact us today.

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