Welcome to the State of California 

Water Security, Preparedness, and Emergency Response (WSPER)

Last Update: December 19, 2013

The events of September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have resulted in greater awareness of the vulnerabilities of drinking water systems to intentional acts of terrorism as well as natural disasters.  The enhancement of security and of the ability of water systems to respond to all types of hazards are key to maintaining reliable supply and delivery of drinking water. 

CDPH's Division of Drinking Water and Environmental Management (DDWEM) has homeland security staff available to assist California’s water systems with security and emergency response issues.  Please e-mail staff (click on individual's name) questions related to security issues.

Northern California Field Operations Branch

Please contact:  Joseph Crisologo, P.E., R.E.A.

850 Marina Bay Parkway
Richmond, CA 94804

Southern California Field Operations Branch

Joseph Crisologo, P.E., R.E.A.
500 North Central Avenue
Suite 500 
Glendale, CA 91203
Phone: (818) 551-2046
FAX: (818) 551-2054

Technical Operations Branch

Currently vacant - please contact:  Joseph Crisologo, P.E., R.E.A.

850 Marina Bay Parkway
Richmond, CA 94804

DWP Headquarters

Currently vacant - please contact:  Joseph Crisologo, P.E., R.E.A.

1616 Capitol Avenue, Suite 174-2
PO Box 997377
Sacramento, CA  95899-7377

Training Initiatives

DDWEM has developed several training initiatives offering tools that will be useful for public water systems in responding to incidents ranging in scope from an MCL failure or natural disaster to a terrorism incident.  Please contact the security staff  to schedule training for your group.

Emergency Water Quality Sampling Kit (EWQSK)

EWQSK – This is training on a very important response resource that will be provided by CDPH.  The intended audiences are the Hazmat responders who would respond to a Hazmat water system incident involving the need to sample at a drinking water facility for an unknown contaminant.  The audience could also involve drinking water personnel, law enforcement, fire, and regulatory personnel who would also be responding and integrating at the in at the incident site under Incident Command Structure (ICS); the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS); and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).  The training discusses fundamentals of a drinking water system, its vulnerabilities, and cases where it has been the target of a malevolent act.  The training also describes how the kits are dispatched, who takes the samples, and who transports the samples to CDPH's Richmond Laboratory.  This table shows training sessions (Excel)Opens in new window.that have occurred and training sessions that have been scheduled along with the agencies involved.

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC)

CERC –  Effective communication to customers during a drinking water system crisis or emergency is just as critical to emergency response operations as the actual physical response.  During an emergency situation, response operations and community relations can sometimes clash because of poor communication.  A poorly managed crisis can damage an organization’s credibility and potentially expose that organization to costly litigation.  Effectively communicating response actions, possible health affects and controlling rumors can be a powerful tool that can enhance emergency operations and create a more productive response. 

CDPH, in collaboration with the California/Nevada Section AWWA, the Bay Area Security Information Collaborative (BASIC), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the California Rural Water Association (CRWA), and other selected water utilities has developed a Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Tool Kit (PDF)Opens in new window.for community water systems.  The Tool Kit is a complimentary resource that should be used in conjunction with a water system’s emergency response plan.  The project was jointly funded by grants from USEPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It was adapted from a guidance document, with the same name, developed for local public health departments to respond to possible bioterrorism events.

The Tool Kit (PDF)Opens in new window.provides detailed resource materials to assist in effectively managing and communicating during an emergency or crisis.  It is specifically designed to support writing and implementing a crisis communication plan.  Knowing when to communicate during a crisis or emergency is just as important as knowing what to communicate.  Specific guidelines and instructions for communicating during an emergency are provided in the Tool Kit, which offers information and techniques to assist in:

  • Customizing communication resources for your water agency
  • Informing and protecting the public during an emergency
  • Communicating clearly with law enforcement officials, public health departments, and other officials in an emergency
  • Engaging partners/stakeholders to best support communication responses
  • Collaborating with local public and environmental health, law enforcement, fire, and other first responders in the planning process
  • Effectively coordinating emergency risk communication plans under California’s Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS)
  • Working with California’s diverse population

Templates from the Tool Kit for use by water systems are available here (ZIP)Opens in new window..

Along with the Tool Kit, a workbook is being developed by CDPH that will contain forms and brief descriptions of guidelines that can be used by water systems as a basic risk communication plan.  That workbook is the focus of workshops that will be offered by the CDPH to water systems on risk communication plan development.  (The workbook will be posted on this website when it is available.)  A number of CERC templates for use by water systems are available here.

Please contact the security staff to schedule a workshop for your area.  This table shows scheduled CERC workshops (Excel)Opens in new window.throughout the state.   

General Water System Security Checklist

CDPH's Drinking Water Program has created a general checklist (PDF)Opens in new window.of security issues that every water system should consider and implement.

Bioterrorism Act:  Requirements for Vulnerability Assessment (VA) and Emergency Response Plan (ERP)

The Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act (HR 3448), Title IV- Drinking Water Security and Safety, states, "Each community water system serving a population greater than 3,300 persons shall conduct an assessment of the vulnerability of its system to a terrorist attack or other intentional acts intended to substantially disrupt the ability of the system to provide a safe and reliable supply of drinking water."  HR 3448 prohibits the state review of VA’s. Therefore, DHS cannot require a copy of the completed VA. [For more, go to US Environmental Protection Agency's (US EPA's)  Water Security Web page.]

Each water system must complete its VA and update its ERP to incorporate the procedures to prevent the threat of terrorist or intentional acts that may interrupt the ability of the system to provide a safe and reliable supply of drinking water.  The ERP must be revised within six months of completion of the VA. US EPA requires certification that the ERP has been completed.   Whenever a public water system updates its ERP, a copy needs to be sent to the appropriate CDPH Drinking Water Program District Office (PDF)Opens in new window.

CDPH's ERP Guidelines

The CDPH Drinking Water Program's ERP Guidelines will assist drinking water systems that serve more than 1,000 service connections in updating their ERPs to meet Bioterrorism Act requirements, and to provide detailed information for emergency response requirements for California. Contact CDPH Water Security Staff for a copy.

Excerpts from CDPH's ERP Guidelines:

Appendix A - Chain of Command (Word)Opens in new window.
Appendix B - Contact List (Word)Opens in new window.
Appendix C - Water Outage Public Notice (Word)Opens in new window.
Appendix D - Boil Water Notice in English (Word)Opens in new window.
Appendix D - Boil Water Notice in Spanish (Word)Opens in new window.- Note added June 17, 2009:  a Spanish version is currently being developed, and will be posted when available.
Appendix E - Do Not Drink Notice (Word)Opens in new window.
Appendix E - Do Not Use Notice (Word)Opens in new window.
Appendix F - Statewide Emergency Notification Plan (Word)Opens in new window.
Appendix G - DDWEM Water Quality Emergency Sampling Kit List (Excel)Opens in new window.
Appendix H - Recommended Emergency Response Training (Word)Opens in new window.
Appendix I - USEPA Threat Guide Recommendations (PDF)Opens in new window.
Addendum - Boil Water Notice Cancellation (in English and Spanish) (Word)Opens in new window.

These documents may periodically be updated, please check this site for the most current version. If you need a copy of the CDPH ERP Guidelines and Appendices, please contact CDPH Water Security Staff.

CDPH's ERP Workshop Action Plan Templates

These action plan templates (ZIP)Opens in new window.were developed by CH2MHill for CDPH's EPR Workshops to assist water systems in completing their ERPs. The templates give water systems standard operations procedures without starting from scratch for many emergency situations:

  • AP 1A - Threat of or Actual Contamination to Water System  POSSIBLE STAGE
  • AP 1B – Threat of or Actual Contamination to Water System  CREDIBLE STAGE
  • AP 1C – Contamination to Water System  CONFIRMED STAGE
  • AP 2 – Structural Damage from Explosive Device
  • AP 3 – Employee Assaulted with Weapon (Armed Intruder)
  • AP 4 – SCADA Security
  • AP 5 – IT Security
  • AP 6 – Chlorine Release
  • AP 7 – Power Outage
  • AP 8A – Natural Event (Flood)
  • AP 8B – Natural Event (Winter Storm)
  • AP 8C – Natural Event (Hurricane/Tropical Storm)
  • AP 8D – Natural Event (Earthquake)
  • AP 9 – Water Supply Interruption
  • AP 10A – Bomb Threat (Telephone/ In Person)
  • AP 10B – Bomb Threat (Suspicious Package / Letter)
  • AP 10C – Bomb Threat (Written Threat Received)

Small Water Systems Security Information

CDPH's Drinking Water Program has tailored a self-assessment guide for small water systems (<3,300 population) to assist them in conducting vulnerability assessments. If you would like to receive a copy, please request a copy from CDPH Water Security Staff (above), or from CDPH's Small Water Systems Program by email at DWPSWSLPA@cdph.ca.gov, or by phone at (916) 449-5600 and ask for a Small Water Systems Unit staff person.  CDPH also has a sample ERP for use by water systems (Word)Opens in new window....(PDF)Opens in new window..

Additional Workshops: 

To assist small public water systems with <3,300 population, CDPH has a contract with Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) to conduct workshops to provide education and information for small water systems, including developing and updating ERPs. The information in these workshops is  targeted to small water systems.  They are free of charge.

For more information on workshop content, contact RCAC's Brian Phillips at (707) 489-6994 or by e-mail at BPhillips@rcac.org. For registration information, contact RCAC's Mark Wiseman at (916) 447-9832 ext 279 or by e-mail at MWiseman@rcac.org.

Proposition 50 Grants for Water System Security

Proposition 50, Chapter 3:   Grants for Water Security

Water Infrastructure Security Enhancement (WISE) Guidance

Guidelines for the Physical Security of Water Utilities (PDF)Opens in new window.
Guidelines for the Physical Security of Wastewater Utilities (PDF)Opens in new window.

Links to Water Security Information

Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN)
US EPA's Water Contaminant Information Tool (WCIT)
US EPA's Water Security Website
Water Security Network
The Infrastructure Security Partnership
Office of Emergency Services

Link to CAHAN

California Health Alert Network (CAHAN)

Other Links

California Rural Water Association
Local Government Environmental Assistance Network

Additional Information
Last modified on: 4/22/2014 2:44 PM