America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) was enacted on October 23, 2018. This act was created to improve the security and quality of drinking water and public health, increase infrastructure development, create jobs, and to support the economy. AWIA amended the existing Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Section 2013 of AWIA mandates community water systems (CWS) that serve more than 3,300 people to develop and/or update risk resilience assessments (RRA) and emergency response plans (ERP). As a whole, AWIA defines the components that the RRAs and ERPs must address and the deadlines CWSs must certify completion of each to EPA.
The RRA assists water utilities in assessing their vulnerabilities to man-made and natural hazards. RRAs may also be used to evaluate future improvements to increase security and resilience. The completed RRA must include the following (and may not be limited to):
- Risk from natural hazards and malevolent acts
- Resilience of the system’s construction, including physical barriers, source water, water collection and intake, pretreatment, treatment, storage and distribution facilities, electronic computer, or other automated systems including the security of each
- Monitoring practices
- Financial systems
- Chemical use, storage and handling
- Operation and maintenance
After completion of the RRA, each CWS must prepare or revise an ERP no later than six months after certifying completion of its RRA. The ERP shall encompass the findings of its RRA. Requirements of the ERP include, but are not limited to:
- Strategies and resources to improve resilience, including physical and cyber securities
- Plans/procedures for responding to malevolent acts or natural hazards that threaten safe drinking water
- Actions/procedures and equipment to lessen the impacts, including alternative water sources, relocating intakes and flood protection barriers
- Strategies to detect malevolent acts or natural hazards that threaten the system
The following table shows the required RRA and ERP completion and recertification dates according to population (not connections).
|= or >100,000||3/31/20||3/31/25||9/30/20||9/30/25|
It would be advantageous for any CWS serving a population of 3,300 or fewer to complete a RRA and ERP even though it is not required by law. The reasoning includes preparedness in the event of an emergency, the implementation of operations and procedures if regular staff are unavailable, and/or a possible population increase. CWSs required to certify RRAs and ERPs should be aware of the penalty for not completing, developing/updating, and/or certifying their RRA and ERP. The EPA can fine a water utility up to $25,000 daily for non-compliance. Considering all of this, it is highly recommended that all CWSs complete and maintain an RRA and ERP.
For more information and complete details on RRAs and ERPs click here.
Other updates included in AWIA refer to EPCRA section 304, which requires facilities to provide immediate notification to the area’s State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) or Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC) and the Tribal Emergency Planning Committee (TEPC) of all releases of Extremely Hazardous Substances (defined under EPCRA) and Hazardous Substances (defined under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act). Further, AWIA Section 2018(a) amended EPCRA Section 304 by adding Section 304(e); stating that area’s SERCs and LEPCs or TERCS and TEPCs promptly notify the state’s water primacy agency of all releases. Subsequently, the water primacy agency is required to notify the CWSs who could be affected.
EPCRA Sections 311 and 312 include provisions for hazardous chemical inventory reporting, which is also known as community right-to-know reporting. The list of chemicals or MSDSs and chemical inventory must be given to the SERC/TERC, LEPC/TEPC, and the local fire department. AWIA Section 2018(b) modified EPCRA Section 312, requiring SERCs/TERCs and LEPC/TEPCs to provide affected CWSs with Tier II information for all facilities within their source water protection area, upon request.
For more information and details about amendments to EPCRA as part of AWIA click here.