Water Resiliency - Specific Threats and Vulnerabilities

Specific Threats and Vulnerabilities

Climate Change – The Waterboards is concerned over the effects of climate change to drinking water resources and quality, whether due from sea-level rise, drought, wildfires, degrading water quality, harmful algal blooms, flooding, and/or debris flows.  The Waterboards stated its commitment to preventing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from climate change items through its passing of its Resolution No. 2017-0012 - Comprehensive Response to Climate Change. 

In an effort to understand the climate change concerns of public water systems, the Waterboards asked PWS to register what climate change threats that are most concerned with, how sensitive that threat is to their systems, and what they have, or plan to, implement in the face of their identified threats and vulnerabilities.  Below are the summary presentations of their responses:

Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) – Since the recent past, electrical utility systems and their partners and stakeholders have been concerned over initiating wildfires during specific hazardous conditions, e.g., strong winds, low humidity, high temperatures, and abundant dry foliage.  To minimize this threat and vulnerabilities, the electric utilities initiated a program of PSPS.  This involves shutting off the electric power in specific service areas during the hazardous conditions to minimize the probability of starting a wildfire.  Prior to initiating a PSPS, the electric utility implements a series of early notifications so that their customers may be aware and prepare.  Shutting off the electric supply during the specific hazardous conditions, that may last days to weeks, poses a huge challenge for public water systems as much of the PWS operations depend upon the availability and reliance on electrical power.  Tools and guidance can assist a PWS be better resilient in the face of a PSPS are provided in the DDW webpage on Public Safety Power Shutoff and Wildfire Information for Public Water Systems

Drought – Climate change has manifested the presence of drought. 

Wildfires – Another effect of climate change is the increased probability of wildfires.  Past major conflagrations include the 2017 Thomas Fire affecting Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, 2017 Tubbs Fire affecting Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties, and the 2018 Camp Fire affecting Butte County. 

America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) – aimed at increasing community water system resilience in the face of all hazards, this federal law was signed in October 2018.  Applied by the USEPA, this law requires Community Water Systems (CWS) to conduct/update their risk and resilience assessment and compose/update their emergency response plan six months hence.  The deadlines for compliance is staggered based upon population size served.  The USEPA has a lot of great tools, guidance, and resources -  https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/americas-water-infrastructure-act-2018-awia

COVID19 – Novel Corona Virus - Pandemic – this incident started toward the end of 2019 and is mentioned to be from Wuhan, China.  It has spread to many countries and affected many people causing many casualties worldwide.  More updated information on the COVID19 options for consideration can be found from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information visit the CDC’s website - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

For more information on COVID-19 and California's response visit the CDPH website - http://www.cdph.ca.gov/

One of the main recommendations is to practice good hygiene such as washing hands often, proper coughing etiquette, staying home when sick, cleaning surfaces, avoiding touching face (eyes, nose, and mouth) and maintaining social distancing.

On the work force, in addition to protecting from sickness, consider analyzing critical and essential functions; staggering the work force as needed, and determining tasks that can be implemented remotely as with teleworking.

The DDW provides some guidance on the COVID-19 Pandemic here - https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/covid-19.html