WEF staff and volunteers have been working to help with coordination of equipment needs and also to identify options for solids management for affected systems in northern New Jersey. On November 2, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson contacted WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger and requested help in identifying individuals and agencies that might be able to provide technical and operational assistance to water utilities impacted by Hurricane Sandy. As widely reported, communities in New Jersey, New York, and other mid-Atlantic and Northeast states have suffered significant damage and interruption of service. WEF staff and volunteers have been working to help with coordination of equipment needs and also to identify options for solids management for affected systems in northern New Jersey. Over the past weekend, WEF staff and volunteers tapped into WEF’s member network to examine options including identifying treatment plants that could receive solids and potential mobile dewatering systems. The response from members and utilities has been immediate with members responding and participating in conference calls and outreach over the weekend.
Damage assessments are ongoing and additional needs may be identified. WEF will be reaching out to its membership as more needs are identified. In addition to the request to WEF from EPA, the Pennsylvania WEA has responded to a request from NJDEP and reached out to its membership to identify facilities able to receive solids or raw wastewater to provide capacity while systems affected by the Hurricane are repaired. For example, residents and businesses in the 48 North Jersey cities and towns served by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission wastewater treatment system were strongly encouraged to minimize water use to reduce stress on the storm-damaged sewage treatment system and help limit partially treated effluent flowing into Newark and New York Harbor. The PVSC, which serves 1.4 million customers in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union counties, is working closely with the state Department of Environmental Protection, federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair damage caused by severe flooding and power outages that has limited the level of treatment of the 240 million gallons a day of wastewater that normally flows through this facility.
Assistance requests also are being identified through the Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN), which was established to coordinate assistance within the water utility sector during emergencies. The WARN website identifies likely assistance needs and also includes state-by-state updates about Hurricane Sandy impacts and needs throughout the impact area.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, WEF commends the efforts of all the heroes working to save lives and property and restore the infrastructure system, including power, transportation, and water and wastewater service. Please support their efforts and help hurricane victims by contributing to the American Red Cross or visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency to see what you can do.