HURRICANE KATRINA AND Superstorm
Sandy—these are just two examples of
events that have threatened water utilities in recent years. Although these are
extreme cases, even a small event can
stop the flow of safe drinking water if a
utility is caught unprepared. Through
years of experience, aided by current and
complete Emergency Response Plans,
many utilities can often quickly repair
the infrastructure and get the water back
online. However, to get the business side
of the house back in order, a utility should
develop a Business Continuity Plan (BCP).
A BCP helps utilities get back to business
by examining mission essential functions
and interdependencies and by ensuring
that if one function fails, the utility knows
how to quickly recover to keep the business running. For example, if a fire, flood,
tornado, or other event cripples or destroys
a utility’s administration building, will the
utility have available resources to purchase
fuel and treatment chemicals, access customer billing data, run payroll, or meet
regulatory reporting requirements? The
BCP is designed to address these and many
other business-related questions.
Water Research Foundation
project #4319, Business Continuity Plans for
Water Utilities, (Moyer et al.) created a comprehensive and flexible model and toolbox
for the development of BCPs by diverse utilities across the water sector. These materials enable water and wastewater utilities to
develop their own BCPs based on size, risks,
and other unique characteristics. The core
of the toolkit is a customizable template
that serves as the basis for the plan and
covers these important aspects:
º Mission Essential Functions—
Identifies and prioritizes those func-
tions that are essential to the success
of the utility’s mission.
º Critical Resources—Identifies
resources that are critical to mission
essential functions and addresses how
to mitigate risks to ensure availability
of those critical resources.
º Vital Records and Data —Identifies
records, data, and other information
critical to mission essential functions.
º Alternate Facilities—Provides an alter-
native facility plan in the event that
key administrative or other operating
facilities are impacted.
º Delegation of Authority—Provides a
procedure for delegating authority
in the event that normal approval
levels need to be increased
º Succession Planning—Provides a plan
in the event that key personnel are
unavailable. These are specifically tem-
porary assignments; however, they
may become long-term or permanent,
depending on the circumstances.
º Alert Notification Procedures—
Provides a procedure to quickly alert
internal and external personnel of
critical information through a call tree
or other notification method.
º Devolution—Provides a last resort
option if the utility is unable to accom-
plish its mission. In some cases, it may
be necessary for another entity to
assume operational control of the util-
ity on a temporary basis.
º Reconstitution—Provides a proce-
dure to return to normal operations.
º Tests, Training, and Exercises—
Provides a policy and procedure for
tests, training, and exercises to ensure
that the BCP is and will continue to
Using the accompanying guidance document, utilities can walk through the BCP
process and easily understand the steps
and components necessary to create their
own BCPs. The document provides tips and
real world examples of best practices in
business continuity planning, and includes
an extensive set of appendices on related
topics such as making the business case for
BCPs, employee preparedness, and a BCP
case study of East Bay Municipal Utility
District. An instructional video is also available to provide further clarification on the
various sections of the BCP. The user can
view the entire video or skip to sections
where they require additional information.