Early Warning and Emergency Response Workgroup

Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership

DWSPP’s Early Warning and Emergency Response Workgroup helps Partnership members prepare for spills or other events that may affect their water supplies and helps them keep abreast of regional efforts to safeguard our water supply from accidental or intentional releases of contaminants.

Partnership Activities

  • Annual emergency spill response exercise using ICPRB’s spill travel time model and MWCOG’s Regional Incident Communication and Coordination System (RICCS)
  • Potomac River basin hazardous liquids pipeline safety review
  • October 2018 table top spill exercise at Fairfax Water
  • October 2017 tabletop spill exercise at NRG Dickerson
  • June 2015 tabletop exercise with Colonial Pipeline
  • July 2014 meeting with Colonial Pipeline
  • Spring 2012 Potomac Basin Regional Spill Exercise
  • Fall 2008 Colonial Pipeline spill training and exercise

Workgroup Objectives

  • Ensure that emergency communications systems and protocols reflecting the specific needs of the water supply community is in place, understood, and regularly practiced.
  • Establish a relationship with significant potential sources identified through the various source water assessments and other means, to facilitate a mutual understanding of hazardous material procedures and risks to water supply.
  • Establish a relationship with local, state, and Federal emergency response agencies to foster a mutual understanding of drinking water vulnerabilities.

Related Activities

  • Oil Spill Exercise in October 2023. Members of the Early Warning and Emergency Response Workgroup of the DWSPP put together the 2023 Oil Spill Exercise in order to demonstrate impacts to drinking water facility brought upon by oil spills and practice several emergency response protocols. The Oil Spill exercise was sponsored by the U.S. EPA Region 3 and hosted by WSSC Water. Presentations:
  • Utility Spill Response Plan – The Plan lists the different steps involved in spill response and provides utilities with guidelines to respond to a spill event in the river. The Executive Summary and Table of Contents are available below. The full plan is available to DWSPP members on the Potomac Spills listserv. Please contact ICPRB with additional questions.
  • Report: Potomac Spills Listserv Protocol Exercise – In July, 2019, the EW/ER Workgroup collaborated with the Water Quality Workgroup to conduct an online exercise of the recently developed Potomac Spills Listserv Protocols.
  • Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) provides quick information to water utilities on when and to what extent a contaminant release may impact their source water. When notified by local or state authorities of a contaminant spill into the Potomac River or one of its tributaries, ICPRB estimates the times at which downstream water supply intakes may be affected and informs affected water utilities.
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has developed a Regional Emergency Coordination Plan, which includes a Public Works and Engineering component (R-ESF #3) to facilitate communication and coordination among jurisdictions concerning regional water supply, wastewater, and solid waste during and after a potential or actual regional emergency.

Additional Resources

RiverSpill: A National Application for Drinking Water Protection

For more information about the Early Warning and Emergency Response workgroup, contact ICPRB.