Public Safety Power Shutoff and Wildfire Information for Public Water Systems

The State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Drinking Water (DDW) recognizes the challenges that Public Safety Power Shutoff and Wildfires will have on the operations of public water systems (PWS) and the communities served by the PWS. DDW is providing the following information to provide clarity on resources, requirements, and expectations during this crisis and to identify options for consideration in increasing resilience in the face of these challenges.

There have been a few wildfire incidents recently and there continue to be increasing threats.  Numerous sources present information on that threat, including:

As we move into the months of high temperatures, low humidity, drying vegetation, and high winds, we must heighten our awareness of the threats, implement measures to prevent these threats from causing much damage, and prepare ourselves to respond and recover – increasing our resilience.  We must consider increasing resilience of ourselves and our facilities and the customers we serve. PWS can consider implementing actions to increase resilience of themselves and their facilities listed in - “Options for Consideration in the Face of Wildfires and Public Safety Power Shutoff 2020”.  PWS can also consider implementing actions to engage their customers to help them increase resilience listed in - “Customer Options for Consideration to Increase Resilience in the Face of PSPS and Wildfires 2020”.

We have learned much from the wildfire and Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) incidents of 2019. Our power utilities are implementing actions to better respond and protect their facilities and surrounding communities in the event of the hazardous fire conditions, some public water systems have secured emergency electric generators and joined or established mutual aid/assistance networks, and our fire service work hard at putting out fires as quickly as possible to prevent those incidents from growing to bigger challenges.

Consider implementing one or more of the options identified and improve your public water systems’ stance in the face of all-hazards. Consider your customers in this resilience stance by engaging them and making them aware of actions, options for consideration, and resources to increase resilience in the face of the PSPS and wildfires.

USEPA PSPS Standard Operating Procedure Template

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) posts the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) template for consideration by public water systems.  This material is the result of the collaborative efforts of the USEPA, SWRCB, CalWARN, PG&E, SCE, public water systems, and wastewater systems and was informed by numerous workshops and meetings on Power Resilience, Black Sky, and PSPS, including the two U.S. EPA: Water Sector Public Safety Power Shutoff Exercise conducted in Santa Rosa on March 3, 2020, and Vacaville on March 4, 2020.   EPA developed this SOP template to assist California drinking water and wastewater utilities to better plan, prepare for, respond to, and recover from a PSPS event triggered by weather and environmental conditions that may lead to wildfire.

Additional Resources: