America’s Water Infrastructure Act: More Deadlines Ahead for Community Drinking Water Systems!

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Community Water Systems (CWSs) around the country should be aware of upcoming deadlines at the end of 2020 that were put into place under the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) previously signed into law in 2018. The law requires CWSs that serve more than 3,300 people to complete a risk and resilience assessment and develop an emergency response plan and establishes deadlines by which water systems must certify to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completion of the risk assessment and emergency response plan.

For those CWSs serving ≥100,000 people, the deadline was March 31, 2020, but, as detailed in a recent post from the California Special Districts Association (CSDA) eNews, for those CWSs serving fewer customers, the following deadlines are upcoming:

System Size

Risk and Resilience Assessment

Emergency Response Plan

if serving 50,000 to 99,999 people

December 31, 2020

June 30, 2021

if serving 3,301 to 49,999 people

June 30, 2021

December 30, 2021

Risk and resilience assessments evaluate the vulnerabilities, threats and consequences from potential hazards, and shall include the following items:

  • The risk to the system from malevolent acts and natural hazards.
  • The resilience of the pipes and constructed conveyances, physical barriers, source water, water collection and intake, pretreatment, treatment, storage and distribution facilities, electronic, computer, or other automated systems (including the security of such systems) which are utilized by the system.
  • The monitoring practices of the system.
  • The financial infrastructure of the system.
  • The use, storage, or handling of various chemicals by the system.
  • The operation and maintenance of the system.

The risk and resilience assessment may also include “an evaluation of capital and operational needs for risk and resilience management for the system.” For water utilities in California in particular, the evaluation of “natural hazards” will likely include an emphasis on wildfire and earthquake risks.

AWIA also requires that covered community water systems develop or update an emergency response plan and certify completion to the EPA no later than six months after risk and resilience assessment certification. The emergency response plan incorporates the findings from the risk and resilience assessment and is meant the cover the following:

  • Strategies and resources to improve the resilience of the system, including the physical security and cybersecurity of the system.
  • Plans and procedures that can be implemented, and identification of equipment that can be utilized, in the event of a malevolent act or natural hazard that threatens the ability of the community water system to deliver safe drinking water.
  • Actions, procedures, and equipment which can obviate or significantly lessen the impact of a malevolent act or natural hazard on the public health and the safety and supply of drinking water provided to communities and individuals, including the development of alternative source water options, relocation of water intakes, and construction of flood protection barriers.
  • Strategies that can be used to aid in the detection of malevolent acts or natural hazards that threaten the security or resilience of the system.

For those seeking additional guidance on compliance, the EPA will be hosting a series of virtual workshops on the AWIA requirements in November. Here are the registration links for these workshops:

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Date

Workshop Module

Module Information

Time

Registration Links

11/2/2020

Module 1

Section 2013 Requirements, Certification, & Section 2018 basics

10:00AM-11:30AM PST

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5951946022847144203

11/4/2020

Module 2

Risk and Resilience Assessments: Malevolent Acts, Natural Hazards, and the Small Systems Checklist

10:00AM-11:30AM PST

https://attendee.gototraining.com/r/2008755377541850882

11/5/2020

Module 3

Emergency Response Plan template and guidance

10:00AM-11:30AM PST

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6891749188642567947

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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