AWIA of 2018: How to Prepare an Emergency Response Plan

image description

Trey Shanks

Environmental Scientist

Note: This is the next part in a series about the AWIA of 2018 and how it affects you. Read how to start a Risk and Resilience Assessment here

The clock is continuing to wind down for U.S. water systems to comply with the American Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

Following conducting a Risk and Resiliency Assessment, which we covered in more detail in a previous post, the next step is to prepare an Emergency Response Plan.

Large utilities are recommended to initial the Emergency Response Plans as soon as possible to meet the Sept. 30, 2020, compliance deadline. Medium and Small utilities are recommended to begin preparations by allocating budget and resources.

Not sure where to start?

The Emergency Response Plan uses input from the Risk and Resiliency Assessment, must include management teams as well as operators and maintenance personnel input, and updates/recertification are required every five years reflecting system changes.

The EPA has issued a template for utilities to have as a reference for developing an emergency response plan specifically to meet the AWIA Section 2013 requirements to incorporate the findings of the risk and resilience assessment. It’s important to note that utilities are not required to develop a new or separate emergency response plan if one is already in place, but the existing plan may need to be updated to address AWIA requirements.

See a brief overview of the sections below or the template in full here.

UTILITY INFORMATION – Some of the categories include safety, response resources and primary utility components.

RESILIENCE STRATEGIES – emergency response roles, communication and public notification

EMERGENCY PLANS AND PROCEDURES – core response procedures, incident-specific response procedures

MITIGATION ACTIONS – alternative source water options and interconnected utilities

DETECTION STRATEGIES – water contamination, cyber intrusion and power outages.

The American Water Works Association also offers an emergency planning manual for water and wastewater utilities. You can buy it here.

How Freese and Nichols Can Help You

Freese and Nichols’ approach can help you go beyond compliance to get the best value for your water-infrastructure assets. Our team of water and wastewater engineers has extensive experience developing Vulnerability Assessments, Risk Management Plans and Evaluations, and Resilience Programs for many water utilities from less than 3,000 to more than a million. Our team can help you successfully complete your Risk and Resilience Assessment and develop or update your Emergency Response Plan.


Our team will be happy to help if you have any further questions. Here’s whom you can reach out to.
Central Texas Stephanie Nieses, PE
North Texas Scott Cole, PE, or Trey Shanks
Southeast Texas David Munn, PE
Florida Craig Wells, PE
Georgia Paula Feldman, PE
North Carolina Brian White, PE
Oklahoma Clay Herndon, PE

See Also

image description

Trey Shanks, CFM, IAM, leads Freese and Nichols’ Asset Management services. He is a Principal in our Fort Worth office.