Emergency water supply planning for the national capital region


  • Gregory Welter, PE, BCEE
  • Steven Bieber, MS, MPA
  • Heidi Bonnaffon, MS
  • Stuart Freudberg, MS




disaster management, disaster response, emergency management, emergency planning, environmental studies


This article summarizes the methods used to develop and document operational plans to address contingency conditions for large-scale failure of the public water supply system in an emergency for an urban/suburban metropolitan region. Operational plans were developed to address the following four critical water usage needs: 1) drinking water, 2) firefighting, 3) hospital facilities, and 4) general sanitation. The objective of the project was to identify readily implementable operational procedures that could be documented and distributed in advance to appropriate personnel and not requiring substantive capital improvements. In this article, there is an extensive use of figures from the emergency plan document. These are primarily examples of site plans annotated for use in water distribution and water collection operational fact sheets. The intent of this article and the accompanying graphics is to illustrate a practical approach to emergency water supply plan documentation.

Author Biographies

Gregory Welter, PE, BCEE

O’Brien & Gere Engineers, Inc., Landover, Maryland.

Steven Bieber, MS, MPA

Chief of Water Resources, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington, District of Columbia.

Heidi Bonnaffon, MS

Environmental Planner, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington, District of Columbia.

Stuart Freudberg, MS

Director of Environmental Programs, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Washington, District of Columbia.


Rest GB: Regional Water Supply Emergency Operation Plans/BMPs for Water Security, report prepared for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Landover, MD: O'Brien & Gere, February 2007.

Department of Homeland Security: National Response Framework. January 2008. Available at http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nrf /. Accessed September 20, 2011.

US Army Corps of Engineers: Local Distribution Point Planning for Commodities. June 2005. Available at https://eportal.usace.army.mil/sites/ENGLink/Commodities/Water/Shared%20Documents/Forms/Technical%20and%20Other%20Information.aspx. Accessed September 20, 2011.

National Fire Protection Association: NFPA 1142: Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Fire Fighting. Quincy, MA: National Fire Protection Association, 2007.

Joint Commission: Hospital Accreditation Program: Emergency Management. Oakbrook Terrace, IL: Joint Commission, 2009.

Joint Commission: Proposed Revisions to the Emergency Management Standards. Oakbrook Terrace, IL: Joint Commission, 2007.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Water Works Association: Emergency Water Supply Planning Guide for Hospitals and Health Care Facilities. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, 2011.



How to Cite

Welter, PE, BCEE, G., S. Bieber, MS, MPA, H. Bonnaffon, MS, and S. Freudberg, MS. “Emergency Water Supply Planning for the National Capital Region”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 9, no. 6, Nov. 2011, pp. 17-28, doi:10.5055/jem.2011.0076.