Early Warning and Emergency Response

Sudden events can occur which threaten the safety of our water supply. A wastewater treatment plant may accidentally discharge water containing raw sewage into the Potomac River. A tractor-trailer truck transporting hazardous chemicals may overturn and spill its contents into a Potomac tributary. An oil pipeline may rupture and release thousands of gallons of petroleum product into a basin stream. DWSPP's Early Warning and Emergency Response Workgroup helps Partnership members prepare for spills or other events that may affect their water supplies and helps them keep abreast of regional efforts to safeguard our water supply from accidental or intentional releases of contaminants.

Partnership Activities

  • Annual emergency spill response exercise using ICPRB's spill travel time model and MWCOG's Regional Incident Communication and Coordination System (RICCS)
  • Potomac River basin hazardous liquids pipeline safety review
  • Spring 2012 Potomac Basin Regional Spill Exercise
  • Fall 2008 DWSPP Pipeline Spill Exercise:
    • Day 1 - training
    • Day 2 - table-top exercise

Related activities by Partnership members and participating organizations

  • Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) provides quick information to water utilities on how and when a contaminant release may have an impact on their source water . When notified by local or state authorities of a contaminant spill into the Potomac River or one of its tributaries, ICPRB uses the RiverSpill computer simulation model to estimate the times at which downstream water supply intakes may be affected, and informs affected water utilities.
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has developed a Regional Emergency Coordination Plan, which includes a Public Works and Engineering component (R-ESF #3) to facilitate communication and coordination among jurisdictions concerning regional water supply, wastewater, and solid waste during and after a potential or actual regional emergency.

More information about emergency response/early warning systems:

Contamination Warning Systems for Water, by J.A. Roberson and K.M. Morley, American Water Works Association, 2005.

RiverSpill: A National Application for Drinking Water Protection

For more information about Early Warning/Emergency Response, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at 301-274-8105.


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