2021 New Laws Series - Water Districts Must Complete Federal Risk and Resilience Assessment and Emergency Response Plan

By Kristin Withrow posted 10-13-2020 08:14 AM


2021 New Laws Series, Part 1:
Water Districts Must Complete Federal Risk & Resilience Assessment and Emergency Response Plan

Each year, lawmakers pass hundreds of new laws and the court system renders rulings on hundreds of old laws. Included in these new laws are funding opportunities, mandates, labor regulations, and more. For the next several weeks, CSDA eNews will feature articles about some of the most significant new laws going into effect that will impact special districts. Each article is authored by an expert in the field.  Our first article comes from Charlene Kormondy with the Water Security Division of  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to share information about a new requirement for special districts serving water.

Water Districts Serving Over 3,300 People Must Complete Federal Risk and Resilience Assessment
and Emergency Response Plan

Natural hazards (e.g., floods, hurricanes) and malevolent acts (e.g., cyber-attacks, contamination) may pose risks to community drinking water systems (CWSs) and their ability to provide safe and reliable drinking water. It is important for CWSs to understand their risks and to have a plan on how to mitigate these risks and respond to an emergency. Enacted in 2018, America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) requires CWSs that serve more than 3,300 people to complete a risk and resilience assessment and develop an emergency response plan.

Compliance deadlines depend on the system size. The deadlines for systems serving 100,000 people or more have already passed. The remaining deadlines are:

System Size

Risk and Resilience Assessment

Emergency Response Plan

if serving 50,000 to 99,999 people

December 31, 2020

June 30, 2021

if serving 3,301 to 49,999 people

June 30, 2021

December 30, 2021


After the initial compliance deadlines, each community water system serving more than 3,300 persons must review its risk and resilience assessment and emergency response plan at least once every five years to determine if it should be revised. Upon completion of such a review, the system must submit to the EPA a certification that it has reviewed its risk and resilience assessment and emergency response plan and revised them, if applicable.

In order to comply, each utility must submit a certification of its risk and resilience assessment and emergency response plan to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are three options for submitting this certification: a user-friendly secure online portal, email, or regular mail.

Risk and resilience assessments evaluate the vulnerabilities, threats and consequences from potential hazards. These assessments must include: natural hazards and malevolent acts (i.e., all hazards); resilience of water facility infrastructure (including pipes, physical barriers, water sources and collection, treatment, storage and distribution, and electronic, computer and other automated systems); monitoring practices; financial systems (e.g., billing systems); chemical storage and handling; and operation and maintenance.

Emergency response plans must include: strategies and resources to improve resilience, including physical security and cybersecurity; plans and procedures for responding to a natural hazard or malevolent act that threatens safe drinking water; actions and equipment to lessen the impact of a malevolent act or natural hazard, including alternative water sources, relocating intakes and flood protection barriers; and strategies to detect malevolent acts or natural hazards that threaten the system.

If community water systems need help meeting these requirements, the EPA has several tools available to help systems develop their risk and resilience assessments and emergency response plans. The EPA does not require water systems to use these or any designated standards, methods or tools to conduct the risk and resilience assessments or to prepare the emergency response plans. Rather, these tools are provided as optional support during the process:

Additionally, the EPA has collected some lessons learned as systems develop their risk and resilience assessments and emergency response plans:

  • Pre-assessment (e.g., gathering information and having meetings with key personnel like human resources, billing, safety operations, etc.) can help to streamline the process.
  • List assets that are critical (i.e., will cause economic or health problems for those served).
  • Use an existing resource to help present the analysis, such as EPA's Small System Risk and Resilience Assessment Checklist.


For more information on the AWIA Section 2013 requirements, visit Questions about the requirements can be sent to

WEBINAR OPPORTUNITY: To learn more, sign up for the November 10th  CSDA Webinar: AWIA Risk Assessment and Emergency Response Plan presented by Charlene Kormondy, Water Security Division, EPA


This article was written by Charlene Kormondy, Water Security Division United States Environmental Protection Agency, as part of CSDA’s New Laws Series, where experts explain recently enacted laws and how they will impact special districts moving forward. This article is provided for general information only and is not offered or intended as legal advice. Readers should seek the advice of an attorney when confronted with legal issues, and attorneys should perform an independent evaluation of the issues raised in these materials.

Stay tuned to the New Laws Series in CSDA eNews for more in-depth analyses on new laws affecting special districts.