WaterISAC conducted a two-part webinar on public notification during water contamination events and outages on Wednesday, July 9, and Thursday, July 10, 2014. WaterISAC's guest was Lisa Ragain, a Principal with Aqua Vitae.
Drinking water contamination and outage events often necessitate an extensive communication effort. Yet water systems routinely employ a regulatory framework based on the Public Notification Rule and other requirements to communicate risk. High profile events from the West Virginia chemical spill to natural disasters, as well as experience from main breaks and rule violations, suggest that some events demand more than just the regulatory communication framework to meet the needs of customers and communities. Among the tools developed to help utilities communicate better in such situations is the Drinking Water Advisory Communication Toolbox, created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with AWWA and U.S. EPA. This two-part webinar discussed how to use the Toolbox and other best practices for advancing utility communications. Both sessions covered different scenarios and use a range of utility experiences.
- Part 1 (Wednesday, July 9) - The first session addressed communication planning and evaluation. The discussion included the differences between messages and information, preparing to respond to unknowns, and public health sector and health effect concerns.
- Part 2 (Thursday, July 10) - The second session addressed communications for a contaminant or water outage event from response through recovery. Topic areas included dissemination, implementation, and recovery concerns, such as taste and odor.
WaterISAC's guest was public health consultant Lisa Ragain. Ms. Ragain is the principal of Aqua Vitae, a consulting firm specializing in public policy and strategic communication. In this capacity, she supports water systems and other organizations. Ms. Ragain serves on the Water Research Foundation’s Public Advisory Council and was a primary author of the CDC’s Drinking Water Advisory Communication Toolbox.
Recordings of the webcasts (contained in downloadable zip files) and the presentations are included below.