Skip to main content
HomeBlogsRead Blog

President's Message (C Factor)

Emergency Response Plan
By Mike Darrow
Posted on 6/2/2018 8:00 PM

Well, it’s that time of year again, the time to review your emergency planning. As you know every water utility across our great state is required to have a plan for all types of emergencies, especially since the hurricane season starts the first of June. Now is the perfect time to start reviewing your utilities’, or your treatment plant’s, ERP plans for emergencies. There are numerous types of emergencies that could impact your ability to service your customers. Make sure you include them in your plan, so review them as well. Some uncommon issues and events to plan around are:

  • Vandalism / Sabotage
  • Service interruptions
  • Drought
  • Storms / Hurricanes
  • Fires
  • Spills
  • SCADA and data breeches

We deal with a lot of issues daily that can impact customer’s service or the ability to serve our customers, from line breaks, operational issues, to lift stations issues. There seems to be a problem every day somewhere. We are very good at taking care of these issues as they come in, no matter the day or time. We are the “silent sentinels” (coined by past President Poteet) of fixing these issues. But we must plan for uncommon issues like the ones above, to ensure manageable responses to address them. Some key Emergency Response Planning should be updated annually and include:

  • Utility System Information
  • Personnel assignments and roles
  • Emergency contact notification listing
  • Equipment readiness
  • Written agreements
  • Training and practice

Utility system Information - a listing of each treatment and pumping component, and equipment in your system. Address the size and flow capacity, power voltages, amperages and backup power, fuel storage and the runtimes for backup power or pumping capacity. Remember to include mapping, both on paper and the ability to use GIS in the field, to help address field issues and locations. Also, review and update your O&M manual for each plant you are reasonable for. Review SOP’s for operational planning for the types of event for abnormal events. Each event may have very different planning and SOP’s to help overcome that event’s situation.

Personnel assignments / Roles - Review your staffing and shifts for events like storm and post storm operations. Split your team to have 24/7 coverage and have operators & maintenance staffed to operate and maintain the water and wastewater systems. This coverage will give response to incoming calls or alarms for SCADA to address issues. Make sure to assign and follow the chain of command for notifications and decision making. Have an organization chart for each group to help with roles and inform others of duties. Effective communication of issues problems and responses are perhaps the most important in getting through an event. Communication & planning meetings before the event to inform all parties and collect input for roles and responsibilities.

Emergency contact notifications – List and update all the contacts you need to take care of the business. Internal team members and leadership, critical customers, regulatory agencies and Statewatch office, emergency contractors and vendors, chemical suppliers, mutual aid partners like FLAWARN. This will help you respond better and quicker when needed. Team members should furnish contact information. Also, each employee should develop and review their own family evacuation plan and/or home stay plan. It is very important for a team member’s family to be taken care of, so the team member can work effectively.

Equipment readiness – Make sure each piece of equipment is ready to work for any event. Test and maintain them will in advance for readiness. This is very important to test and maintain in advance. When equipment or units are down, make it a priority to get them back up and running before the event. Make sure there are repair parts in stock or vendors to help complete the repairs needed for the ability to fully complete the repairs effectively.

Written agreements – gather the agreements needed for contracts used for services or suppliers annually. Often agreements expire or change so reviewing will place you in a better spot to react. Looks for new contracts that will help in areas of weakness in abilities to repair or rebuild.  Look to or review contracts for emergency backup water or wastewater interconnections. This could be a life saver. Lastly, the update and review terms in Mutual aid partners like FLAWARN for execution, should it be needed. Define roles and responsibilities for the partnership.

Training and practices - Reviewing your staff, knowing the roles and expectations, and then addressing training where lapses are is most needed. Emergency Training is given by many skilled organizations out there. The FW&PCOA has coursework in the area and continually assist’s in any way to help out where needed. I know we all get busy in our daily issues but practice of these plans and SOP’s is another way to make sure you are ready where the lapses are.  Lessons learned post event can help out with identifying what worked and what needs improving. 

Our Goal is for continual operations and service of a water and or wastewater system before, during, and after an event. It seems like expectations are even higher on us post hurricane Irma. Planning, team members, and funding are needed now more than ever. Storm season is upon us and affects us mainly in July, August, and September in our part of the state. Florida’s operators, mechanics, and technicians have a lot of experience in this area. Input from each of them should be crafted into your plan. If you have a chance to review last year’s “2017 FW&PCOA Hurricane Irma Lessons Learned Survey Results” list on our website @ Here’s to your continual service to your customers and successful operations. My thanks and gratitude go out to each and every one of you who serves their community so well. Keep up the effort and good things will happen. See you in the field.

Online Institute update
The Online Institute presently has 82 active courses and 232 registered students (46.6% of capacity). As the year continues and time to get CEU’s decreases, more operators will get their CEU’s online. So what are you waiting for? There is less than one year remaining in the 2019 license renewal cycle, so I encourage all operators to finish earning their CEU’s.  – Tim McVeigh

Use the following is a link to the course listing: or Email Tim for questions at:

Some popular online short coursesinclude:  Stormwater C, Wastewater Collection C, and Water Distribution Levels 2 and 3.  Wastewater Class C treatment Plant Operators course, Class C Drinking Water Treatment Plant Operator and the new Class B Treatment Plant Operator course, side note: Wastewater Class B treatment Plant Operators course is now in development.