Hurricane Preparedness for Drinking Water Utilities

Drinking water utilities need to take precautions in advance of the arrival of a hurricane. Public water suppliers in the possible path of the storm should prepare for high winds, storm surge, torrential rain, flooding and extended power outages. To help utilities provide continuity of service to its customers before, during and after the storm, the following actions are recommended:

  • Prepare for Mutual Aid - Plan in advance, and sign a mutual aid agreement with neighboring utilities or communities. Better yet, join the New York Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (NYWARN). NYWARN is a utility run mututal aid system set up specifically for water and wastewater utilities in New York State. Everything you need to join is available on-line at
  • Water Storage - Fill your storage tanks to help you meet demand during a power outage and to help anchor your tanks during high winds and inundation.
  • Back Up Power - Fill fuel tanks for your generators. Exercise each generator under load to be sure it is running properly and power transfer is reliable. Assume a lengthy power outage. Estimate the time that you will be able to meet demand with the back-up power, fuel and water storage you have on hand. Identify several possible locations where fuel can be procured in case your primary supplier becomes unable to deliver.
  • Continuity of Operation - Contact all essential employees to place them on alert. Make sure that sufficient staff will be on duty throughout the expected storm duration. Provide enough food and clean water for staff working extended shifts. Have them bring extra dry clothes, and consider providing sleeping arrangements so that extended duty staff do not become overly tired.
  • Chemical and Fuel Storage - Check tanks to be sure you have enough essential chemicals (e.g. disinfectant) to get you through the storm. Check tank anchoring to be sure they are protected from wind damage and buoyancy forces (floating or overturning) should they become inundated.
  • Water Sources - Identify sources that may become inundated. Prepare to remove sources from service, prior to inundation, that may be susceptible to damage from inundation or intrusion by flood born pathogens or salt water.
  • Emergency Communications - Check your emergency communications equipment to be sure it is in good working order. Charge all batteries, or replace with fresh ones. Distribute communication equipment to appropriate staff.
  • Public Communications - Be prepared to provide public information as needed. Check contact information with local radio and television stations. If you do not have storage and/or dedicated backup power sufficient for 3 days, consider pre-preparing water conservation advisory notices that can be issued if needed.
  • Vehicles - Fill vehicle fuel tanks to be sure they are ready for use in response to the storm. Provide essential equipment (radios, instruments, tools, safety equipment, lights, ropes, etc.).

Additional Resources