MassDEP’s Water Utility Resilience Program (WURP) is a technical assistance program designed to support Drinking Water (DW) and Wastewater (WW) utilities in developing or enhancing their resilience to severe and hazardous weather events, including those caused by climate change.

How can WURP help my DW and/or WW Utility?

Assistance provided through this program include: identifying helpful and practical resiliency resources, finding opportunities for local and regional partnerships, offering infrastructure mapping and adaptation planning assistance, and coordinating training opportunities.  WURP works closely with the MassDEP Emergency Preparedness Officer to ensure climate change resilience is part of an all hazards approach to technical assistance for DW and WW utilities.

What specific support can WURP provide?

  1. Hazard Mitigation & Emergency Preparedness
  2. Cyanobacteria Support
  3. Cybersecurity
  4. Infrastructure Mapping
  5. Vulnerability Assessments
  6. Climate Change Information
  7. Climate Resilience Evaluation & Awareness Tool (CREAT) assistance

WURP prioritizes technical assistance for DW & WW utilities based upon system vulnerability and infrastructure risks identified through desktop assessments that determine topographic vulnerabilities, emergency response (ER) events, regional program recommendations, and utility interest.

GIS Infrastructure Mapping Tool

“Enhancing Resilience and Emergency Preparedness of Water Utilities through Improved Mapping”

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is in the process of developing consistently formatted, statewide water and wastewater utility infrastructure maps to evaluate, prioritize and assist local water utilities with critical infrastructure resilience planning, adaptation, and disaster recovery. Throughout the Commonwealth, maps are currently used by both drinking water and wastewater utilities for operational purposes and to meet federal and state regulatory requirements. Current mapping formats submitted to MassDEP by water utilities vary widely from hand drawings on road atlas maps and older blue-prints, to fully engineered Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or Computer-Aided Design (CAD) maps. MassDEP staff also use maps for emergency response efforts and during non-emergency scenarios, such as permitting, troubleshooting utility issues, watershed protection planning and enhancing resiliency. However, there has been no consistent method of tracking map availability resulting in a significant information gap.
 

In collaboration with local partners, MassDEP identified the need to better account for this Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) and provide improved and authorized access to this information. MassDEP’s Water Utility Resilience Program (WURP) and MassDEP’s GIS program initiated a statewide inventory of map availability beginning with both Community (COM) Public Water Systems (PWSs) and Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs). The current draft inventory consists of documenting and merging available internal map information, historical mapping project information, and maps that have already been made publicly available online. This statewide effort to comprehensively document water utility PCII will result in a uniform approach to tracking map availability, improve appropriate internal accessibility to water utility PCII, and identify water utilities in need of GIS mapping assistance thus enhancing their ability to better manage infrastructure assets, respond to emergencies, and meet other regulatory requirements as necessary.
 

MassDEP is particularly cognizant of security for this particular information, and is coordinating data security with the Commonwealth Fusion Center and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Critical Infrastructure program to safeguard access to detailed information both internally and externally. In the interest of transparency, this project will also continue to work collaboratively with the MA Department of Public Health (MDPH) in developing generalized service area information for public viewing. On January 31, 2017, MassDEP issued a request for quotes (RFQs) to select a contractor to confirm information contained within MassDEP’s inventory, as well as to provide GIS mapping services free of charge to priority municipal water utilities. MassDEP was pleased to announce that Tighe & Bond, Inc. was awarded this contract on March 28, 2017, with finalization and project kick-off on April 26, 2017 (Award letter for PWS mapping pdf format of Tighe & Bond Assisting MassDEP with Mapping Inventory
; Award letter for WW mapping pdf format of Tighe & Bond Assisting MassDEP with Mapping Inventory
). In collaboration with MassDEP, a team of Tighe & Bond representatives will be working quickly to reach out to prioritized PWSs and POTWs to confirm information within the MassDEP inventory or offer mapping services by the required June 30, 2017 deadline. For questions, please contact Kristin Divris at 508-849-4028 or Kristin.Divris@state.ma.us.

Identifying Climate Change Impacts & Risks at your Utility

“Water Utility Resilience Program and CREAT Support”

EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) initiative was developed to assist drinking water (DW), wastewater (WW), and stormwater utilities in addressing climate change impacts.  One particular software tool designed to assist DW and WW utilities with understanding potential climate change impacts and assessing their related risks, is the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT).  During 2015 and 2016, WURP joined EPA in working with two Massachusetts communities on pilot projects involving the completion of a climate change risk assessment using CREAT. To expand CREAT use in 2017 and using lessons learned from the pilot projects, WURP will be organizing group exercises to coordinate systems interested in using the tool to work collaboratively as they review asset threats and adaptation measures.

How can I get assistance through WURP?

Contact Kristin Divris at 508/849-4028 or kristin.divris@state.ma.us.