Ensuring water supply during a crisis

Water drops

When disaster strikes, water, the most basic resource crucial for our survival, may become compromised.

To help water utilities be prepared and continue to operate in any event, ISO has just published ISO 24518:2015 Activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services - Crisis management of water utilities.

The new standard lists the steps utilities have to take in order to be ready for any crisis situation. ISO 24518 also looks at what to do during an emergency, and how to re-establish services and learn from the situation.

Lack of portable water can become a huge problem in an emergency. Similarly, safely removing and disposing of sanitary wastewater and drainage stormwater is vital to prevent epidemics, general contamination of people and the environment, and urban flooding. ISO 24518 will help water utilities to ensure adequate quantity and quality of water supply, sanitation, operation of supply and sewage systems, and response and recovery in emergencies.

ISO 24518 outlines the fundamentals of a crisis management system using the Plan-Do-Check-Act approach to prepare water utilities so they can:

  • cope with crisis situations and are able to ensure water supply and the removal and treatment of wastewater
  • cooperate with all the authorities concerned
  • consider the natural environment as well as the impact on the health and well-being of the population
  • effectively communicate with the public to mitigate or prevent panic

ISO 24518 can be used by water authorities and departments at various levels, water corporations and other bodies dealing with water supply, crisis management organisations, water engineers, and consultants.

ISO 24518 is the first of its kind. Although water safety documents have been published, none deals with crisis management in water utilities. 

New Zealand has no involvement in the committee that developed ISO 24518.

Published in international.

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