Emergencies: What to do In the Event Of a Widespread Water Outage?
1. Be Prepared
After a major disaster it may be several days or even longer before emergency responders can restore the water distribution system in your area depending upon the nature and scope of the disaster. Even then, the water you receive may require additional treatment to be safe to drink.
- Every household should keep a minimum of 72-hour (three-day) emergency supply of water handy. How much water do you need? Store one gallon per person per day, or a total of three gallons per person, for a 72-hour period. You'll want two quarts each for drinking and two quarts for food preparation and sanitation plus extra water for pets and/or family members with special needs. Don’t forget your other emergency supplies and necessities (get a complete list at www.ready.gov).
- Tap water from VOMWD, if properly stored in well-sanitized plastic containers like soft drink bottles, can be stored for approximately one year. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break. You can also purchase commercially bottled or packaged water for long-term storage. Store your emergency water supply in an easily accessible dark, cool, dry area away from any solvents or chemicals.
- If you are unsure about the safety of stored water, you can disinfect it with a 5.25% sodium hypochlorite solution (household chlorine bleach). Use 8 drops for clear water and 16 drops for cloudy water per gallon. Mix thoroughly and let stand for 30 minutes before using. You should notice a slight chlorine odor. If not, repeat the disinfection process.
2. Know How to turn off your Water
Following an earthquake or even an unexpected winter freeze, the water pipes serving your home may be damaged and leaking. You will want to turn off the water supply as soon as possible to prevent water damage to your property.
Prepare yourself for this possibility in advance:
- Locate the water valve leading into your house and attach a label to it for quick identification (so that you can find it even in the dark).
The water can be turned off at either of two locations. We recommend shutting off your water at the water valve leading into the house to prevent water from flowing out of your water heater and back into the main line (turn the handle clockwise to shut off the flow). If you can’t turn the water off at the valve leading into your house, the water can be shut off by VOMWD staff at the meter box (usually by the street), which controls the water flow to the entire property.
For a handy reference guide download disaster preparedness - got water?
3. Stay Informed when Disaster Strikes
Tune your radio to your community’s emergency radio station or one of these commercial emergency broadcast stations:
- KNBR 680 AM
- KCBS 810 AM
At VOMWD, We’re Prepared for Emergencies
VOMWD’s water delivery system includes more than 6,800 service connections, approximately 92 miles of pipeline, 12 storage tanks and 11 pumping stations. The potential for damage from an earthquake or other disaster in Sonoma Valley poses some serious response and recovery challenges. That’s why we conducted a comprehensive “vulnerability assessment” soon after the 9/11/01 tragedy and used the findings to update our emergency operations plan. We also invest a great deal of time in training our employees in emergency response procedures.
VOMWD Emergency Operations Center(EOC)
Our operations staff is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, 365 days-a year, so we are able to activate our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at any time to coordinate the actions of the VOMWD first responders. Our EOC has at its disposal a wide array of resources, including:
- Emergency operations supplies
- Portable generators and pumps
- Temporary piping, fittings and hoses
- Communications equipment
- Food, first aid supplies, hygienic facilities for emergency staff and first responders
Inter-agency Cooperation and Mutual Aid in Large-Scale Disasters
Disasters are rarely confined to a particular set of political or geographical boundaries. We may require the support of outside agencies to handle an emergency that exceeds our resource capabilities. Likewise, other federal, state or local agencies may request our assistance. When this happens, VOMWD will partner with other agencies to share resources and information and to coordinate the response and recovery effort as a part of the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS). SEMS is regulated by the California Office of Emergency Services and is used throughout the state to manage and coordinate any emergency response involving more than one agency or jurisdiction.
Examples of other agencies VOMWD may work with in an emergency include:
- County of Sonoma Office of Emergency Services ( County OES)
- California Office of Emergency Services (State OES)
- Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN)
- Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC)