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Increasing preparedness for water utilities, local health departments, and first responders

Leonard W. Casson, PhD, PE, BCEE, Kevin M. Morley, PhD Candidate, Stanley J. States, PhD, John C. Watson, MD, MPH, J. Alan Roberson, PE


A training program was developed by the American Water Works Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with financial support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to bring together water utility personnel, their public health counterparts involved with epidemiology and outbreak investigation, and first responders. The objective of this training program was to help facilitate working relationships between each of the invited groups and to improve communication to better prepare for potential incidents involving physical destruction of critical water treatment and distribution facilities and/or potential intentional contamination of the public drinking water supply. This 2-day workshop was delivered in eight locations in the United States between 2004 and 2006. Representatives from 142 of the largest water utilities and 186 different public health departments received this training. In total, more than 550 individuals attended the 2-day workshop training series.
The outcomes of this training program were numerous, and several important lessons were learned about how to develop, improve, and maintain relationships and communication between utilities, public health personnel, and first responders. These relationships and improved communication will allow these groups to better respond, remediate, and return utilities to normal operation following an incident.


drinking water, security, public health, first responders, emergency response

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