Letter to Community Water Systems Serving 3,301 People or More

NY State Community Water Systems

Serving 3,301 people or more

September 2022

Completing Water Supply Emergency Plans Updates

As part of the five-year update and submission process required by Public Health Law (PHL) §1125, please review your entire water supply emergency plan (WSEP). A complete WSEP consists of two separate documents: the vulnerability assessment (VA) and the emergency response plan (ERP). The following provides additional information about requirements as you update your documents.

Contact Information: PHL §1125(5) requires that updated communication and notification information be provided annually to the New York State Department of Health (Department). Please also take this opportunity to verify that your response partners, including your local health department, have your current contact information.

Updated Small System Templates: The small system VA and ERP templates have been revised to meet regulatory requirements. In accordance with PHL §1125(a), systems wishing to continue to use the small systems templates must use the 2022 version. The templates are available from your local health department or from the Department’s Preparing Emergency Response Plans webpage.

Cybersecurity: The cybersecurity vulnerability analysis is a required component of the VA and must be submitted as part of the five-year update. The cybersecurity component should be reviewed and updated as needed. Proposed corrective actions which have been completed should be indicated as such. For corrective actions which have not been completed and the target completion dates have passed, new dates must be proposed.

Required Components: Public Health Law §1125 requires that several items be included in each WSEP. The following are required items frequently missing from plans:

  • The VA must indicate which law enforcement agencies were consulted. PHL §1125(2)(k) requires the VA must be prepared after consultation with local and state law enforcement.
  • The VA must include proposed corrective actions and target completion dates for identified vulnerabilities. PHL §1125(2) requires the WSEP to identify the steps necessary to ensure that potable water is available during a water supply emergency. Corrective actions must reduce or remove the risk posed to the system by the vulnerability. Target completion dates must not have passed. Where a system has decided not to take corrective action for an identified vulnerability, that decision must be documented, and justification provided.
  • The ERP must indicate the location of the version of the ERP available for public review. PHL §1125(3) requires that a version of the ERP be available for public review and comment. However, any information determined by the water supplier to pose a security risk to operation of the water supply shall be exempt from public disclosure. Unless specifically requested by your local health department, please do not submit the public version of your ERP.
  • The VA and ERP must address pandemic and supply chain shortages. PHL §1125(2) requires the WSEP to identify the steps necessary to ensure that potable water is available during a water supply emergency. NYSDOH has determined that pandemics and supply chain shortages are reasonably anticipated emergencies which must be addressed in the WSEP.

America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018: The risk and resilience assessments (RRA) and emergency response plans (ERP) required by AWIA must include several items not required by the NYSDOH WSEP program. While water systems are responsible for ensuring their documents meet the requirements of AWIA, the Department will require revisions when we identify AWIA requirements that are not met. The following are items specifically required by AWIA that may not already be in your water supply emergency plan:

  • The documents must be prepared in consultation with the Local Emergency Planning Committee to the extent possible.
  • VA must include an assessment of the monitoring practices of the system.
  • VA must include an assessment of the operation and maintenance of the system.
  • ERP must include actions, procedures, and equipment which can obviate or significantly lessen the impact of malevolent acts or natural hazards, including:
    • The construction of flood protection barriers
    • The relocation of water intakes
  • ERP must include strategies that can be used to detect malevolent acts or natural hazards that threaten the security or resilience of the system.

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA): AWIA amended Section 312(e) of EPCRA to grant community water systems access to EPCRA Tier II information, also known as hazardous chemical inventory data, for facilities within their source water area. Water systems are encouraged to access this information and, where stored chemicals pose additional risk, update their water supply emergency plans accordingly. Instructions to obtain access to Tier II chemical inventory information (PDF) using E-Plan are available from the Department’s Preparing Emergency Response Plans website. The data may also be accessed by contacting the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) directly at SERC.OEM@dhses.ny.gov.

Document Submission: Updated WSEP must be submitted to your local health department.

  • Water systems must provide two (2) copies of the VA and two (2) copies of the ERP. To meet the requirements of PHL §1125(5), one copy of your VA will be provided by the Department to DHSES.

If you need assistance completing your updates by your submittal deadline, please contact your local health department. Technical assistance may be available from your local health department, the Department’s Bureau of Water Supply Protection, or for systems serving less than 10,000 persons, from the New York Rural Water Association.