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Why Water and Wastewater Utilities should Prepare Business Continuity Plans and How they can Get Started

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Most water and wastewater utilities have spent time in recent years assessing their security and planning for their initial response to various forms of disasters. These efforts have produced Vulnerability Assessments (VA), Emergency Operations Plans (EOP) and Emergency Response Plans (ERP). ERPs and EOPs are often used interchangeably and generally focus on the immediate and initial response to disaster conditions, what must be done first and “stopping the bleeding.”

However, many water and wastewater utilities have not thoroughly addressed how they will keep their utility in operations and business during and after disasters. Utilities must think through essential functions and critical staff before they are faced with events like a flu epidemic or even a snowstorm. This level of preparedness is addressed in a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

The information presented herein is based upon an American Waterworks Association (AWWA) seminar on BCP for water and wastewater utilities first conducted by the authjors in August 2007. Provided is an overview of a step-by-step approach to developing the core elements of a Business Continuity Plan for a utility. The foundation steps in developing a BCP are to identify what events can occur and how these events can impact essential functions and critical resources at the utility. The utility should then develop plans to stay in business during and following specific impacts.

Critical components of a BCP include preparing employees to cope with disasters and for their post-disaster roles, developing succession plans to cope with the loss of key staff, preparing plans to operate the system after the loss of critical components and key resources (particularly electricity) and providing for critical information protection.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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