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The Lazy Dell Community Water
The (fictious) Lazy Dell community water
system, located along the I-5 corridor in the Willamette Valley consists of two untreated
supply wells, two miles of distribution, a 100,000 gallon storage tank and serves 80
residences, a grocery store, a small plant nursery and a medical clinic with a combined
population of 300. Well #1 is located approximately 50 ft west of I-5, is 75 feet deep and
draws water from an unconfined aquifer. Well #2 is located 200 ft east of I-5, is 210 feet
deep and draws water from a confined aquifer. The two wells are joined by a common supply
line that empties into the storage tank. Each well can be isolated or operated in tandem
on demand by float switches located in the storage tank. Well #1 is the major producer of
the two wells.
In anticipation of a contamination incident the Lazy Dell Water System
had developed a contingency plan under their Wellhead Protection Plan that provided them
with a reliable means to identify and respond to any real or potential disruption of water
flow to their users. Since their program required them to delineate a well head protection
area for each well the system knew in which locations their wells would be most vulnerable
to a contamination episode.
During the development of their contingency plan, the system identified all the possible threats that might impact the flow of water to their users. Each possible threat was prioritized and scenarios developed on how they might occur and how the system would respond. As it turned out, the most likely scenario was contamination of well #1 by a highway accident that caused spilled chemicals to reach the vulnerable recharge area of this well.
Another very important component of the contingency plan was to have in
place a notification protocol tied in with the local emergency response system for the
county. During the development of this protocol, the water system thoroughly researched
the existing local emergency notification and response network and determined how they
could incorporate their vulnerable well head protection areas and personnel into it. In
the county in which the water system was located, the emergency response coordinator (ERC)
was a deputy with the Sheriff's office. The water system provided pertinent information in
writing to the ERC regarding the location of vulnerable areas and a notification roster of
key personnel designated to respond on behalf of the water system. The ERC incorporated
this information into the local emergency response system. It was determined that if any
reported spills were to happen along a defined area of I-5 that the water system would be
notified so it could take appropriate actions. Together it was decided that the ERC would
have the 911 dispatcher contact key County Health Department and Lazy Dell Water System
personnel when spills were reported near the designated vulnerable areas.
Since the Lazy Dell Water System has diverse water needs, the
contingency planners also prioritized the residential, commercial and emergency water
needs of the system to insure that water needs could be met during a crisis. They decided
that in addition to the 100,000 gallon storage tank that provides a 3 day reserve for the
entire system, the medical clinic should have additional on-site storage to supplement the
main water reserves and convinced the owner to add a 5,000 gallon tank to the facility.
In anticipation of short-term/long- term substitution or replacement of
the water supplies, the planners investigated the logistics of purchasing and distributing
bottled water, hauling water in a local dairy truck to refill their main reservoir or to
fill water stations in and around the community, utilizing National Guard water haulers,
tying into a nearby city water system, and the development of a new water source. For the
short-term solution the planners found it most feasible to arrange with a local dairy to
haul water to select water stations. With an ample water supply and the addition of a
short supply line, the planners were able to make arrangements with the nearby city to tie
in to their system for a long-term solution, if needed.
During the development of their Wellhead Protection Plan, the water
system planners determined that some select water system improvements might be a good way
to reduce or eliminate certain threats to vulnerable portions of their system, so they
decided to investigate any and all financial resources available to them. The targeted
improvements included creating a tie-in with the neighboring city and/or the development
of a less vulnerable well. The water system planners visited the county land use planning
department to learn what restrictions there might be and what support the county might
provide related to these improvements. Then they investigated programs sponsored by the
Oregon Economic Development Department (OEDD) including the Community Block Development
Grant and Water/Wastewater Financial Programs, the Federal Rural Economic and Community
Development Program (Farmer's Home) as well as the feasibility of creating special water
system funds and increasing water use charges to their consumers.
The planners also learned that in order to have the support of the water system users they needed to encourage user participation in the plan development process and develop educational materials to help them understand the concepts related to the process. To that end, additional members representing varied interests in the community were recruited to the water board and a newsletter was developed for public dissemination. It was decided that the newsletter would focus on several related topics including water conservation under normal and emergency conditions, groundwater hydrogeology, groundwater contamination, cross connections and water system design and operation, to name a few. The board agreed to perform mock emergency exercises relating to the different scenarios developed under the contingency plan twice a year and to test, review and update all procedures as needed. Most importantly they made provision for continuing education and training for key personnel to make sure that everyone involved was current on contingency planning concepts, the specifics of the Lazy Dell Water System and local emergency response network in the community.
The incident occurred on a foggy morning when a southbound fuel tanker
jackknifed on Interstate I-5 spilling 1,000 gallons of gasoline onto the road and adjacent
agricultural land on the west side of I-5. As a result of the accident, the spilled fuel
was ignited and the roadside and adjacent field were engulfed in flames. The gasoline
spill flooded an area adjacent to the delineated well head protection area for Well #1.
The accident was called in by a State Patrol officer and reported to the
Oregon Emergency Response System (OERS) through the county emergency response coordinator.
OERS notified DEQ and the Oregon Health Division and the county 911 dispatcher notified
the County Environmental Health Department and the emergency response designee for the
Lazy Dell Water System. The local responding fire department was informed that the spill
location was in a vulnerable well head protection area and advised not to apply water to
the the fire, if possible, but to allow the gasoline to burn out or use retardant foam.
The Lazy Dell Water system immediately took well #1 off line to reduce the chance of
drawing the contamination toward the well. Since there were no residences or other
structures in the immediate area, the fire department allowed the fire to burn out on its
own in the field. The water system set up a sampling plan to monitor for gasoline
components and the well was reactivated a few days later.
This scenario demonstrates how a unified and well coordinated
contingency plan should operate. It should be planned, documented and tested. The
contingency plan should include all the essential elements discussed in Section 3-6 of
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