FEMA to study blackout impact on waste, water plants

The 2003 blackout has prompted some emergency management agencies to survey the vulnerability of critical facilities such as water and sewage treatment plants, which failed along with the electricity. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has initiated a national inventory of backup systems and vulnerabilities in the country’s infrastructure to prevent future failures.

The worst electricity blackout in the history of North America, which occurred in mid-August, caused some water systems to fail because they were unable to handle the drop in power. Government agencies issued calls to boil water while engineers made sure the system was free of contamination.

Mike Brown, director of FEMA stated that he was surprised to learn many Midwest water and sewage facilities could not maintain a clean water supply. Mr. Brown has not said how long it would take to complete the massive effort to examine weaknesses in the system. FEMA is currently conducting an internal review to determine how many of its emergency response facilities lack backup power.

For further information, contact Chad Kolton at
chad.kolton@fema.gov or 202-646-4600