Water Security, Preparedness, and Emergency Response (WSPER)

Earthquakes, Terrorism, Wildfires, Debris flows, Flooding, Accidents, Sabotage, Tsunami, Cyber are a few of the natural and man-caused incidents that the Water Sector (one of the 16 Critical Infrastructures) faces regularly. The Water Sector is acutely aware of the vulnerabilities of drinking water systems to these incidents and the imperative to increase and maintain their resilience. The enhancement of security and the ability of water systems to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from all-hazards is key to maintaining a reliable and adequate supply and delivery of clean, safe, wholesome drinking water.

The Division of Drinking Water (DDW) has homeland security staff available to assist California's water systems with security and emergency response issues. Please e-mail staff (click on individual's name) questions related to security, preparedness, and emergency response issues.

For more information, contact Joseph Crisologo, P.E., at:
500 North Central Avenue
Suite 500
Glendale, CA 91203
Phone: (818) 551-2046
FAX: (818) 551-2054

Training Initiatives

DDW has developed several training initiatives offering tools that will be useful for public water systems in responding to incidents ranging in scope from an MCL failure or natural disaster to a terrorism incident. Please contact the security staff to schedule training for your group.

Emergency Water Quality Sampling Kit (EWQSK)

EWQSK - This is training on a very important response resource that will be provided by DDW. The intended audiences are the Hazmat responders who would respond to a Hazmat incident involving a water system and the need to sample at a drinking water facility for an unknown contaminant. The audience could also involve drinking water personnel, law enforcement, fire, and regulatory personnel who would also be responding and integrating at the in at the incident site under Incident Command Structure (ICS); the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS); and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The training discusses fundamentals of a drinking water system, its vulnerabilities, and cases where it has been the target of a malevolent act. The training also describes how the kits are dispatched, who takes the samples, and who transports the samples to the California Department of Public Health's Richmond Laboratory.

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC)

CERC - Effective communication to customers during a drinking water system crisis or emergency is just as critical to emergency response operations as the actual physical response. During an emergency situation, response operations and community relations can sometimes clash because of poor communication. A poorly managed crisis can damage an organization's credibility and potentially expose that organization to costly litigation. Effectively communicating response actions, possible health affects and controlling rumors can be a powerful tool that can enhance emergency operations and create a more productive response.

SWRCB, DDW, in collaboration with the California/Nevada Section AWWA, the Bay Area Emergency and Security Information Collaborative (BAESIC), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the California Rural Water Association (CRWA), and other selected water utilities has developed a Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Tool Kit (PDF) for community water systems. The Tool Kit is a complimentary resource that should be used in conjunction with a water system's emergency response plan. The project was jointly funded by grants from USEPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was adapted from a guidance document, with the same name, developed for local public health departments to respond to possible bioterrorism events.

The Tool Kit (PDF) provides detailed resource materials to assist in effectively managing and communicating during an emergency or crisis. It is specifically designed to support writing and implementing a crisis communication plan. Knowing when to communicate during a crisis or emergency is just as important as knowing what to communicate. Specific guidelines and instructions for communicating during an emergency are provided in the Tool Kit, which offers information and techniques to assist in:

  • Customizing communication resources for your water agency
  • Informing and protecting the public during an emergency
  • Communicating clearly with law enforcement officials, public health departments, and other officials in an emergency
  • Engaging partners/stakeholders to best support communication responses
  • Collaborating with local public and environmental health, law enforcement, fire, and other first responders in the planning process
  • Effectively coordinating emergency risk communication plans under California's Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS)
  • Working with California's diverse population

Templates from the Tool Kit for use by water systems are available here (ZIP).

Along with the Tool Kit, a workbook is being developed by DDW that will contain forms and brief descriptions of guidelines that can be used by water systems as a basic risk communication plan. That workbook is the focus of workshops that will be offered by the DDW to water systems on risk communication plan development. (The workbook will be posted on this website when it is available.) A number of CERC templates for use by water systems are available here.

Please contact the security staff to schedule a workshop for your area.

General Water System Security Checklist

DDW has created a general checklist (PDF) of security issues that every water system should consider and implement.

Bioterrorism Act: Requirements for Vulnerability Assessment (VA) and Emergency Response Plan (ERP)

The Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act (HR 3448), Title IV- Drinking Water Security and Safety, states, "Each community water system serving a population greater than 3,300 persons shall conduct an assessment of the vulnerability of its system to a terrorist attack or other intentional acts intended to substantially disrupt the ability of the system to provide a safe and reliable supply of drinking water." HR 3448 prohibits the state review of VA's. Therefore, DDW cannot require a copy of the completed VA. [For more, go to US Environmental Protection Agency's (US EPA's) Water Security Web page.]

Each water system must complete its VA and update its ERP to incorporate the procedures to prevent the threat of terrorist or intentional acts that may interrupt the ability of the system to provide a safe and reliable supply of drinking water. The ERP must be revised within six months of completion of the VA. US EPA requires certification that the ERP has been completed. Whenever a public water system updates its ERP, a copy needs to be sent to the appropriate Division of Drinking Water District Office (PDF).

The DDW's ERP Guidelines assist drinking water systems that serve more than 1,000 service connections in updating their ERPs, and provide detailed information for emergency response requirements in California. Contact SWRCB DDW Water Security Staff, if any questions.

Excerpts from SWRCB DDW's ERP Guidelines that can be used and modified to make specific to the water system:

Appendix A - Chain of Command (Word)
Appendix B - Contact List (Word)
Appendix C - Water Outage Public Notice (Word)
Appendix D - Boil Water Notice in English (Word)
Appendix D - Boil Water Notice in Spanish (Word)
Appendix E - Do Not Drink Notice (Word)
Appendix E - Do Not Use Notice (Word)
Appendix F - Statewide Emergency Notification Plan (Word)
Appendix G - DDW Emergency Water Quality Sampling Kit List (PDF)
Appendix H - Recommended Emergency Response Training (Word)
Addendum - Boil Water Notice Cancellation (in English and Spanish) (Word)

These documents may be periodically updated, please check this site for the most current version.

These ERP and action plan templates (ZIP) were developed by CH2MHill for our ERP Workshops to assist water systems in completing their ERPs. The templates give water systems standard operations procedures without starting from scratch for many emergency situations:

  • AP 1A - Threat of or Actual Contamination to Water System POSSIBLE STAGE
  • AP 1B - Threat of or Actual Contamination to Water System CREDIBLE STAGE
  • AP 1C - Contamination to Water System CONFIRMED STAGE
  • AP 2 - Structural Damage from Explosive Device
  • AP 3 - Employee Assaulted with Weapon (Armed Intruder)
  • AP 4 - SCADA Security
  • AP 5 - IT Security
  • AP 6 - Chlorine Release
  • AP 7 - Power Outage
  • AP 8A - Natural Event (Flood)
  • AP 8B - Natural Event (Winter Storm)
  • AP 8C - Natural Event (Hurricane/Tropical Storm)
  • AP 8D - Natural Event (Earthquake)
  • AP 9 - Water Supply Interruption
  • AP 10A - Bomb Threat (Telephone/ In Person)
  • AP 10B - Bomb Threat (Suspicious Package / Letter)
  • AP 10C - Bomb Threat (Written Threat Received)

Small Water Systems Security Information

DDW has tailored a self-assessment guide for small water systems (<3,300 population) to assist them in conducting vulnerability assessments. If you would like to receive a copy, please request a copy from DDW Water Security Staff (above), or from DDW's Small Water Systems Program by email at DWPSWSLPA@waterboards.ca.gov, or by phone at (916) 449-5600 and ask for a Small Water Systems Unit staff person. DDW also has a sample ERP for use by water systems (Word)...(PDF).

Additional Workshops:

To assist small public water systems with <3,300 population, DDW has a contract with Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) to conduct workshops to provide education and information for small water systems, including developing and updating ERPs. The information in these workshops is targeted to small water systems. They are free of charge.

For more information on workshop content, contact RCAC's Brian Phillips at (707) 489-6994 or by e-mail at BPhillips@rcac.org. For registration information, contact RCAC's Mark Wiseman at (916) 447-9832 ext 279 or by e-mail at MWiseman@rcac.org.

Proposition 50 Grants for Water System Security

Proposition 50, Chapter 3: Grants for Water Security

Water Infrastructure Security Enhancement (WISE) Guidance

Guidelines for the Physical Security of Water Utilities (PDF)
Guidelines for the Physical Security of Wastewater Utilities (PDF)

Links to Water Security Information

Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN)
US EPA's Water Contaminant Information Tool (WCIT)
US EPA's Water Security Website
Water Security Network
The Infrastructure Security Partnership
Office of Emergency Services

Link to CAHAN

California Health Alert Network (CAHAN)

Other Links

California Rural Water Association
Local Government Environmental Assistance Network

Additional Information

Information for Public Drinking Water Systems