CFPUA to Hold Controlled, Full-Scale Emergency Exercise March 16
Day-long event to involve significant testing of 1,000-plus mile water system;
Exercise will mirror recent water supply-related events to improve emergency response capabilities;
Impacts to customer service unlikely but possible
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Mike McGill
Office: (910) 332-6704
Cell: (910) 622-8472
Wilmington, NC (March 1, 2016): On March 16, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority – in cooperation with state regulatory officials, local fire and law enforcement agencies, and public health officials – will conduct a controlled, full-scale exercise simulating a real-world water emergency. During the exercise, CFPUA emergency response personnel and equipment will be mobilized to scenes and respond as directed by CFPUA’s Emergency Response plans and procedures.
The simulation level is the most involved exercise in the U.S. Homeland Security’s Exercise and Evaluation Program. It is designed to mirror recent events involving a loss of water supply, such as the Elk River, West Virginia chemical spill and the coal ash spills that have occurred in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Over the last few years, CFPUA has conducted workshops, tabletop exercises, drills, and functional exercises as part of a larger effort to prepare for an emergency. The full-scale exercise is considered the most effective training tool, next to an actual emergency, because a team develops a real-life scenario prior to the event that must be reacted to in real time.
The exercise will test significant portions of CFPUA’s water storage and distribution systems, including much of its 1,000-mile plus network of water mains. Essential pieces of infrastructure will either be shut down or activated, depending on how the exercise progresses. By doing so, CFPUA is expected to gain a wealth of information about the resiliency of its water system during emergency events.
CFPUA will be using computer modeling to simulate impacts on the system and obtain key data without putting customer services at significant risk. However, because the exercise will be carried out at the most realistic levels, people within portions of CFPUA’s service area may experience reduced water pressure or temporarily discolored water as the scenario progresses.
The attached map shows where instances of discolored water are most likely to occur during the exercise. The highlighted areas are located near CFPUA emergency water system interconnections, which will be used during the exercise. When water flow is disrupted by a main break, maintenance, or emergency operations, sediment in the water mains can be loosened, resulting in a temporary discoloration of water. While disconcerting, the water is safe to drink. Once the loosening of the sediment or deposits has stopped, the water will begin to run clear.
CFPUA will constantly evaluate its water system during the exercise, which is slated to last eight hours. If impacts involving water pressure or discolored water rise to levels where they are likely to have impacts beyond pockets of our services area, CFPUA will immediately end the exercise.
Because of the size and scope of the exercise, CFPUA is asking its customers to stay informed on March 16 by monitoring mass media, www.CFPUA.org, and social media by following CFPUA on Twitter, @CFPUA. If CFPUA needs to make an announcement during the exercise, it will use these outlets, as well as the New Hanover County Emergency Notification System.
CFPUA would like to thank our partners in emergency response throughout the city and country for their assistance and participation in developing and conducting the exercise.
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Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) was formed by the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County to combine their water and sewer operations. It began operations on July 1, 2008. Today, the Authority serves more than 67,000 water customer accounts and more than 65,000 wastewater customer accounts. It oversees more than 1,000 miles of water distribution mains and nearly 1,000 miles of sewer mains. For more information, visit www.cfpua.org or contact Mike McGill, Chief Communications Officer, at email@example.com .