Legal Alerts Jul 24, 2019

Complying with America’s Water Infrastructure Act Requirements

New Risk, Resilience and Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Community Water Systems

Complying with America’s Water Infrastructure Act Requirements

In response to the America’s Water Infrastructure Act’s passage last year, community water systems serving more than 3,300 people must now prepare or update risk and resilience assessments and emergency response plans. The AWIA specifies the risks to be addressed and establishes deadlines for the risk assessments and emergency response plans.
 
In October 2018, the President signed AWIA. The AWIA expands existing disaster preparedness requirements to account for additional sources of vulnerability to water systems, such as natural disasters and natural hazards. The EPA does not require water systems to use designated standards or methods to conduct the assessments and plans.
 
Risk and Resilience Assessments
AWIA generally expands the previously named “vulnerability assessments” to include an analysis of risks to, and resilience of, water systems related to sources other than intentional attacks. The risk and resilience assessment must include an assessment of:
1. the risk from malevolent acts and hazards,
2. resilience of physical infrastructure and technologies,
3. monitoring practices,
4. financial infrastructure,
5. chemical uses and
6. operation and maintenance.
 
The deadline for community water systems to complete the risk and resilience assessments depends on the size of the population served:

  • For populations of 100,000 or more, the deadline is March 31, 2020
  • For populations between 50,000 and 100,000, the deadline is Dec. 31, 2020
  • For populations between 3,300 and 50,000, the deadline is June 30, 2021

 
Because the term “population served” includes people served “directly or indirectly,” population served by a consecutive system must be counted for a wholesaler. The risk and resilience assessments, however, would only be for the systems owned, maintained and operated by the wholesaler (not for the consecutive systems). The risk and resilience assessments must be reviewed at least once every 5 years and revised, if applicable. Upon completion, community water systems must submit a certification to the EPA confirming the review and any revisions.
 
Emergency Response Plans
AWIA also broadens the scope of emergency response plans beyond just intentional attacks. The emergency response plans must now include:
1. strategies to improve the system’s physical and technological resilience,
2. plans, procedures and equipment that can be utilized if the system is threatened,
3. actions, procedures and equipment that can lessen the impact of a threat to the water system, and
4. strategies to detect threats to the system.
 
Emergency response plans must be completed by community water systems within 6 months of the risk and resilience assessment’s completion. The emergency response plan must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised at least once every 5 years — and no later than 6 months after the risk and resilience assessment review. Upon completion, the community water system must submit a certification to the EPA confirming the review and any revisions.
 
EPA Guidance
The EPA will provide guidance documents next month to assist community water systems in complying with the AWIA.
 
For more information about the AWIA and its impact on your agency, contact the author of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group or your BB&K attorney.
 
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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

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