Water Sector Emergency Response Exercise in the Potomac River Basin
HW designed and conducted a three-day functional exercise centered on a spill scenario for utilities/jurisdictions comprising the Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership (DWSPP). The scenario exercised the spill modeling capability of the Interstate Commission of the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) and the regional communications systems managed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG). This EPA Region 3-sponsored multiagency, multijurisdictional exercise brought together water utilities, local, state, and federal governments, as well as drinking water primacy and public safety agencies in the National Capital Region. The objectives of the exercise were to:
- Test communications between utilities
- Practice public message coordination between utilities
- Evaluate information systems designed to assist utilities during an incident affecting multiple jurisdictions in the Potomac River Basin
This exercise also served as an opportunity for participants to test and evaluate their own internal agency/utility/jurisdictional Emergency Response Plans (ERPs).
Players participated from their daily work place with exercise “play” occurring over normal communication mediums (e.g., telephone, email, regional communications networks). Players took action based on information they received and the procedures in their own ERPs. In addition, Players documented and periodically reported all their activity to the HW exercise controllers. HW staff facilitated the exercise, played the role of several agencies, and served as recorders.
An after-action conference is scheduled for May 30th and will be used to identify both best practices and gaps in notification/communication procedures. Identified gaps will serve as the basis for improvement planning and will be included in an After Action Report (AAR). Participating agencies can use the AAR to develop their own respective improvement plans.
One EPA official stated that “This was the most important project undertaken this year. It helps us with our source water protection work and our DC implementation program.”