New Security & Emergency Response Requirements in America’s Water Infrastructure Act

New water supply security, resiliency, and emergency response requirements are included in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is expected to develop guidance materials for utilities by late summer of 2019, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). These materials should clarify what water providers need to do to remain in compliance.

The National Rural Water Association (NRWA) outlines the AWIA’s new requirements related to security, resiliency, and emergency response below:

  • Section 2013. Community water system risk and resilience: Replaces the provisions in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regarding anti-terrorism activities and instead, in line with existing water system practices, creates requirements for assessing risks from malevolent acts, including terrorism, and resilience to natural hazards and emergency response plans to those threats by community water systems serving more than 3,300 persons.
  • This section of AWIA requires certification to USEPA that the assessment was completed.  Due dates are phased in according to water system size:
    • 100,000 persons or more by March 31, 2020
    • 50,000 to 100,000 persons by December 31, 2020
    • 3,300 to less than 50,000 by June 30, 2021
  • Six months after the assessment certification, another certification is due to USEPA that the Emergency Response Plan has been updated to incorporate findings of the assessment.
  • Assessments are required to be reviewed every five years to determine whether the assessment must be revised.  A certification that this review was conducted, and that the assessment was revised, if applicable, is required to be submitted to USEPA.
  • Section 2018. Source water: Amends the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act to help community water systems better understand real and potential threats to the source water they treat for drinking water.  [USEPA believes that this will enable water suppliers to obtain more details about what is stored upstream.]
  • Section 2008. Improved Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR): Requires community water systems, serving more than 10,000 persons, to provide a CCR to each customer of the system at least twice a year. Also requires USEPA to improve the format of the CCR to increase understandability and usefulness to non-technical readers on the quality of their water. How this will be implemented has not been determined and could require USEPA to develop revised regulations.

While the guidance materials for AWIA are being developed, the USEPA already has information on its website about Creating Resilient Water Utilities (CRWU) and the CREAT Risk Assessment Application for Water Utilities.