Resources for Emergency Response Planning

Plan of Action Template <500 | Plan of Action Template <3,300 | Boil Water Order Fact Sheet

Fillable Action Plan <500 | Fillable Action Plan <3,300

Lightning over a city.

For Maine Public Water Systems
Serving Less than 3,300


Maine is a state rich in water resources.  With 4,523 square miles covered by ponds, lakes and streams, the beauty and scenic wonder is one of the reasons people choose to live in Maine.  Maine has over 1850 Public Water Systems that deliver quality tap water to over nine hundred thousand residents.  Maine’s Public Water Systems (PWS) have challenges just like those in other states.  We have many remote and rural areas and a variety of unpredictable weather patterns.  The four seasons in Maine can result in strong winds, extreme cold, snow, mud, flooding, and occasional hot, dry stretches with the potential of drought.  In addition to the physical challenges in this tough economy, the reality of “doing more with less” has posed other challenges for keeping services at the level that Maine people expect and rely on.

There are many words that could describe licensed water operators in Maine.  Some that come to mind are tough, resilient, independent, frugal, versatile, but always determined. Like many other states, our PWSs’ have aging infrastructure, anticipate the loss of experienced and seasoned staff in the next few years, and have less time than needed to get a day’s work done.

There are many agencies that have excellent and current resource guides for various aspects of Emergency Preparedness for Public Water Systems.  We have highlighted a few of these resources.  The Drinking Water Program has dedicated staff who are focused on providing public water systems with the resources they need.

An increase in collaboration and resource sharing will keep Maine in the forefront, notable as a state rich in water resources and resilient in difficult times.  Maine has an edge of having the best “resource”- good quality water and plenty of it!

Current Emergency Response Plan or Plan of Action templates

There are numerous guides and templates available.  A Public Water System of any size needs to have a plan that is current, with correct contacts and that the system regularly “works the plan”.  Working the plan  requires a series of collaborations, discussions, teamwork, and table top exercises that draw on the experience of the participants and the local environment and resources to work through logistical and technical issues before they occur. 

For Public Water Systems that serve fewer than 3,300 people the Drinking Water Program has a Plan of Action Template.  Tailored for Maine and the type of emergencies that Maine experiences, it is meant to be the resource to use at the time of emergency.   

 For smaller Public Water Systems that serve less than 500 we have a smaller version template that is ideal for mobile home parks, schools, and business. 

Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) has a great site and templates for Security and Emergency Response Planning.  These are focused on small water and wastewater systems. 

Source Protection Efforts

The most cost-effective way to develop and maintain safe and secure drinking water starts with the location of the well or surface source so that it is protected from potential contamination. It continues with identification and management of the land area that provides water to the source. Land uses that support high-quality water include well-managed forests, low intensity recreation, and sustainable agriculture.  If the land around the source is developed residentially or commercially, active management of these activities is needed to maintain clean, safe drinking water. All these activities: source selection, identification of contributing area, control of land use decisions, and management of existing land use, combine to provide safe and secure drinking water. Information on how to do this is available through the Source Water Collaborative.  The Environmental Protection Agency has numerous resources on their website for Source Water Protection efforts.  Another source of information is the National Rural Water Association.

Security Vulnerability Assessment

A security vulnerability self-assessment guide is designed to help water systems determine and target vulnerable components and identify security measures.  It includes all the components of a system, such as  access, wellhead or surface water source, treatment, storage, pumps, chemical use, distribution system, and electronic or computer access.  It is a proactive approach to looking at the security of an entire system.  The EPA has an eight page guidance document that covers all aspects of assessments for smaller systems, or for an actual template that works for smaller systems,  Rural Community Assistance Partnership has a nice version in the toolbox section, chapter three.  A classic self assessment guide from 2002 by ASDWA and NRWA is still in use and user friendly.  The title is Security Vulnerability Self Assessment Guide for Small Drinking Waster Systems.

Asset Management

By carefully maintaining an inventory of system assets and keeping them on a proactive maintenance and replacement schedule, emergency breakdowns can be minimized.  System owners and operators can assure themselves of long–term performance and better controlled costs.  Avoiding emergency shutdowns from equipment failure is a great return on investment. There are plenty of tools to assist you doing asset management that range from simple to complex, inexpensive to budget breakers.  Understanding the variety of management tools available will help you choose what is best for now.

CUPSS(Check Up for Small Systems) A simple comprehensive approach to implementing an asset management program and developing effective asset management plans for water and wastewater systems.

Asset Management: A Best Practice Guide A brief on what asset management is and its benefits and best practices.  This guide is intended for owners, managers, and operators of water systems, local officials, technical assistance providers, and state personnel.

Small Systems Management Help Guidelines and easy-to-follow instructions for key management measures, including asset management, strategic planning and financial planning.  These tools also provide information on how you can involve your customers and local officials in these efforts.

Preventative Maintenance Card File for Small Public Water Systems The log cards and guidance booklet provide a schedule of routine operation and maintenance tasks for small drinking water systems that use a ground water supply.  These cards and booklet will help you develop a preventative maintenance program for your water system.  They will also provide security measures that can be taken as normal operation and maintenance activities are completed.  The DWP recognizes there are some small systems who are not “online”, if you have no maintenance program in place, this is a start.  It is a 142 page document, as a classic, it can be customized for the small system that wants simplicity.

Well Head Protection

The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986 established requirements for states to develop Wellhead Protection Programs. A Wellhead Protection Program is a pollution prevention and management program used to protect underground sources of drinking water. These programs were intended by Congress to be a key part of a national ground-water protection strategy to prevent contamination of ground-waters that are used as public drinking water supplies.  The Maine DWP has an easy to fill out application and the deadline is in April of every year.

Incident Command System Trainings and NIMS

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a management system designed to offer a flexible response to incidents of any size.  The system is designed to accommodate the size and unique characteristics of any emergency incident.  If your water system experiences an emergency that involves other groups such as a fire department and/or law enforcement agency, the responders may set up an incident command system to manage the emergency response.  You should know and understand how an Incident Command System (ICS) operates.  For more on ICS, contact your County Emergency Management Agency.

The National Incident Management Systemprovides a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work seamlessly to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life and property and harm to the environment.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency has the most current information on Incident Command System and trainings as well as NIMS.

Maine WARN

MEWARN is a Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN) that allows water and wastewater systems in Maine to receive rapid mutual aid and assistance from other systems in Maine to restore services damaged by natural or man made incidents.  Utilities sign the MEWARN standard agreement which then allows them to share resources with any other system in Maine that has also signed the standard agreement. MEWARN is available to all public and private water and wastewater systems in Maine.  Participation is voluntary, and it not mandated by any local, state, or federal regulation.

Pandemic Influenza Planning

Pandemics are unpredictable, have universal susceptibility, spread rapidly, can occur simultaneously across the county and last for weeks.  Public Water Systems have to realize that the impact to the water system is critical just on two of these factors alone.  High absentee rates and a ripple affect of the shipment of resources and supplies, such as disinfectants and chlorination products are two (of many) considerations.  Taking a hard look at your critical customers is another factor, as the time frame of this impact is very unpredictable.  There are dozens of great resources to begin planning for this “emergency” which is in a class of its own due to its unique and unpredictable characteristics.  EPA’s has an informative planning factsheet on Pandemic Influenza.  The Center for Disease Control is the lead agency on tracking Influenza nationwide.


This Emergency Response Resource Guide is for planning purposes, updating and working your public water systems’ Emergency Response Plan of Action.  It is constantly changing and being improved upon, and therefore we advise creating a Favorite/Bookmark link to this document rather than saving it to your computer.


Other Resources:

Maine Television Stations

Maine Radio Stations


The Drinking Water Program is available as a resource.  For compliance assistance issues, current source assessment maps or service connections counts, public health advisories such as boil water notices, and everything in between.  We are at your service!


Maine Drinking Water Program
For emergencies after hours 207-557- 4214



Action Plan for Systems Serving <3,300 (doc)

Action Plan for Systems Serving <500 (doc)

Boil Water Order Policy (pdf)

Boil Water Order Fact Sheet (pdf)

Boil Water Order Posting Template (pdf)

Do Not Drink Order Posting Template (pdf)

Do Not Use Order Posting Template (pdf)

Public Water Systems Can Prepare for Fall Hurricane Season in Maine (pdf)

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Updated 9/6/2012