Example Contingency

Plan Response

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The Lazy Dell Community Water System

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 this manual.

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