Newsletter #153 for December 1, 2015
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Are You Prepared for El Niño?

Flooding in California after torrential rains from El Niño storms in 1998. Photo credit: Dave Gatley, FEMA
One of the most powerful El Niños on record is expected to have strong impacts on winter weather this year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center has put the chance of above-normal amounts of rain in southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico at more than 60 percent for January through March. Big storms are also projected for the Plains and Southeast. At the same time, El Nino may prolong the drought across the interior Northwest and lead to milder days with less snow across the northern half of the country. 

Some regions have already started experiencing the impacts of El Niño, but there is still time to prepare your utility for potentially extreme weather events this winter. The tips below—originally posted on our blog in October—walk through the process of developing an extreme weather response plan.   
  1. Understand your vulnerability to extreme weather. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is a great resource here. Their PrepareAthon website has information on when and where extreme events are most likely to take place.  
  2. Identify vulnerable assets. Are key equipment located in the floodplain? Are your circuitry and control panels secured for high winds? 
  3. Identify possible mitigation measures would protect vulnerable assets and priority operations. Putting in place a procedure to top off water in storage tanks prior to a hurricane or bolting down chemical tanks in advance of a flood are just a few examples. 
  4. Determine which mitigation measures should be implemented. Keep in mind costs, effectiveness, and practicality when making this decision. 
  5. Identify actions that will need to be taken immediately before and after an event. For example, sandbagging treatment sheds or turning off water meters at destroyed homes and buildings. 
  6. Write a plan to implement mitigation and rapid-response measures. This should be revised periodically and integrated into your utility's overall asset management process. 
  7. Be prepared to act. Include rapid-response measures in your employee training programs and keep staff and other stakeholders up-to-date on any changes. 
Click here for the latest on this El Niño event.   
Tell Us Your Best Practices for Partially Exposed Tanks
We received a call from a partner in North Dakota earlier this fall asking for advice on partially exposed tanks. There was a concern that leaving portions of tanks above ground would lead to freezing problems during the winter. He settled on leaving 2 ft. exposed, which will save a lot of excavation and maintenance time relative to a completely buried tank.

This got us wondering what standards others follow when deciding where and how to place storage tanks. What have you done in the past? What advice do you have for others? Let us know by sending an email to

Recently at

Templates for an Emergency Response Plan
The first in a three-part series with guides and tips to help small systems develop comprehensive emergency response plans. 

Are You Prepared for a Drought? 
Be prepared with a drought contingency plan. 
Freddy the Fish Teaches about Stormwater (VIDEO)
Outreach video uses kid-friendly approach to teach the public about stormwater.

Free Webinar

Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water
Tuesday, December 15 at 2:00 pm Eastern. 
Hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This webinar is part of a monthly series hosted by EPA's Office of Research and Development and Office of Water with the goal of communicating EPA's current small systems research along with Agency priorities. Attendees have the option of receiving a certificate for one continuing education contact hour for each webinar.

Click here for more information.
Want to find additional training opportunities for operators,
including events in your area?
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Free Resource

Blue-Green Algae Q&A for Water System Operators
Oregon Health Authority

This 4-page document examines the presence of blue-green algae in water systems. The fact sheet addresses questions for water system operators about the health risks, issues that arise, actions to take, treatment, and prevention. 
Click here to download.
Have a different question?
You can find thousands of helpful resources in our database.
Search the Document Database

Featured Video: Camden, New Jersey Water Utility Climate Adaptation Planning

This video provides a synopsis of the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority’s efforts to reduce their vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and increase their resilience. Camden County used the U.S. EPA’s Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) to help identify and evaluate potential impacts of climate change on their utility and to develop adaptive options to address these impacts. 

Click here to watch.
Have a great video? We're dedicated to bringing you helpful, entertaining, or inspiring videos to you. If your organization has a relevant video to share, let us know!

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AWWA scholarships available for students interested in public water supply fields. Apply by Jan 11, 2016.


Share This offers useful of interesting information that can be shared with the public and other stakeholders.

Reading Selections

Wastewater Treatment Plants Could be Abandoned
The owners of five small-scale "package" plants serving subdivisions in Kentucky have announced they will legally abandon the plants in roughly three months. 

EPA Takes Next Steps to Protect Drinking Water from Harmful Algal Blooms
This blog post outlines U.S. EPA's plans to address algal toxins in drinking water for the coming year. 

Beavers an Unlikely Ally in the War On Algae
A new study shows that beaver ponds and dams aid in the removal of nitrogen from water. 

Ten Years in the Making, Colorado Water Plan Finally Unveiled

Colorado's new Water Plan aims to achieve 400,000 acre-feet of municipal and industrial water conservation by 2050. 

U.S. EPA Awards $1 Million Grant to Research Impact of Drought on Water Quality

The Public Policy Institute of California has been awarded funds to research the effects of drought and extreme weather on water resources. 
Did you miss our last newsletter? Click here to view the archive.

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