Water and wastewater systems are classified by the federal government as “critical infrastructure.” As the largest water and wastewater service provider for the residents and businesses in Horry County, South Carolina, GSWSA has the obligation to plan, prepare for, and respond effectively to a variety of potential emergency situations.
Grand Strand Water & Sewer Authority (GSWSA) employees and departments are directed and expected to become and remain familiar with all applicable provisions of this Emergency Management Plan, and to support and participate in applicable emergency management training, drills, and exercises.
Employees and departments are also directed and expected to use applicable provisions of this Emergency Management Plan when preparing for and/or responding to emergency situations affecting GSWSA employees, facilities, or customers.
Thorough planning, effective preparation, SAFE, and timely response to emergencies must be the goal of every department and every employee.
The primary goal of this Emergency Management Plan is to provide a foundation upon which these planning, preparation, response and recovery activities and capabilities can be developed, maintained, and improved. While this plan is quite comprehensive, no single plan or manual can possibly address and fully detail every potential situation. The intent is for this Emergency Management Plan to be the “core” plan; however, it must link with and be coordinated with other plans and procedures as appropriate.
This Emergency Management Plan is intended as both a planning and a preparation tool, to be studied and learned before an emergency incident, and also as a response aid, to be used during an incident. Understanding the structure and flow of this plan will greatly help the user obtain maximum benefit and guidance from it.
Section 1, the Basic Plan, and Section 2, Incident Support Functions, contain primarily pre-incident planning and preparation materials. Users need to know, understand, and maintain a good working knowledge of this information. (A brief review of these sections during an incident may be quite helpful, but that is NOT the time to learn and understand this material for the first time.) Section 3, Event Specific Guidelines, should also be reviewed and understood before an incident, but this section will provide valuable guidance during an emergency event as well, and should be used to help plan and organize emergency activities.
Section 4, Action Forms, should be reviewed before an incident, but are intended to be used during an incident.
Section 5, the Appendix, contains a variety of supporting information and reference materials that may be helpful during emergency incidents.
HOW TO USE THIS PLAN (during an emergency incident)
Time permitting; review Section 1, the Basic Plan, to ensure a good understanding of GSWSA’s overall approach to emergency operations.
Review the Table in Section 1.11 of the Basic Plan to determine which Incident Support Functions you may be involved with.
Review all applicable Incident Support Function responsibilities in Section 2.
Review the appropriate Event Specific Guidelines in Section 3. (Many events can have more than one type of consequence or impact, so be sure to utilize all appropriate Guidelines.
Select and utilize the appropriate Action Forms in Section 4.
As necessary, refer to the appropriate Appendices in Section 5.
REFER BACK TO THE PLAN OFTEN to help keep you on-track.
FOLLOW THE PLAN unless there is strong justification not to.
It is the desire and intent of GSWSA to be adequately prepared for and ready to respond to any emergency situation that could impact our employees, customers, facilities, surrounding communities, and the environment.
This plan establishes the core procedures by which GSWSA will coordinate all planning, preparation, response, and recovery activities. It also establishes how GSWSA will coordinate with others during an event including county, state, and federal agencies.
This plan adopts and uses the “Functional Approach” recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Both Horry County and the State of South Carolina use this approach in their Emergency Operations Plans and will minimize confusion in the event we have to work with or through these agencies in a major emergency or disaster.
With this “Functional Approach”, major areas of responsibility that could potentially be necessary during an emergency incident are identified separately and each “Function” is tasked with specific duties and responsibilities. During an emergency, a person or department is assigned responsibility for a particular “Function”. This “assignment” process is greatly streamlined because the major duties and responsibilities of that “Function” have been pre-defined.
This plan is divided into five (5) major sections. Section 1 is the Basic Plan which provides a general overview of how GSWSA will plan for and respond to all emergencies. Section 2 defines the specific ISF (Incident Support Functions), and outlines each function’s major responsibilities. Section 3 provides specific planning and response guidance for specific types of emergencies. Section 4 contains Action Forms which includes forms, checklists, etc. to be used as a job aid during the incident. Section 5 is the Appendix which contains a variety of reference materials.
MISSION and PRIORITIES
During “normal operations”, GSWSA’s Mission is:
To provide water and wastewater services to protect public health and the environment, promotes economic development and enhance each customer’s quality of life. For “emergency operations”, that broad Mission is broken down into five (5) Mission Objectives, and prioritized in the following order.
Provide adequate wastewater services to meet basic human and public health needs
Restore services to regulatory requirements
Control operating costs
The following incident priorities have been adopted from nationally recognized Incident Command Systems (ICS). Additional explanation and examples have been provided to better illustrate how these priorities apply to GSWSA.
Locate, treat, and care for injured employees; request EMS and/or emergency medical First Responders as appropriate.
Locate missing or unaccounted for employees.
Correct or safeguard hazards that create actual or potential imminent danger to employees.
Correct or safeguard hazards resulting from GSWSA facilities or processes that create actual or potential imminent danger to our customers or community.
Assess or “Size Up” exactly what the situation is. What has happened? What is the impact? (The Incident Summary Worksheet may be helpful.)
Develop an Incident Action Plan (IAP) so efforts are organized, effective, and focused on the proper priorities. (Allowing personnel or departments to “take off and do their own thing” – referred to as “freelancing” – is almost certain to be largely ineffective, disorganized, and may very well be dangerous. All efforts must be organized through the appropriate personnel and through the Incident Command System.)
Stabilization or Restoration Priorities will generally be as follows:
Water Systems (for potable water and fire suppression)
Cleanup spills / releases (chemicals, wastewater, etc.) that could impede operation of GSWSA’s critical facilities.
Cleanup spills / releases that could be harmful to the environment.
Cleanup spills / releases that are only affecting GSWSA properties.
SITUATION and PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS
EMERGENCY: An unexpected event or circumstance which leads to a disruption of normal operations and requires prompt action to address or correct.
Horry County, in South Carolina, and more specifically GSWSA facilities, employees, and customers are subject to numerous potential hazards. These include natural, technological, and man-made hazards. The threats posed by these potential hazards involve both immediate and long range affects with possible consequences including mass injuries or fatalities, extensive property damage, and disruption of daily life activities.
An emergency may occur at any time with little or no warning and may rapidly escalate beyond one department’s or even one organization’s ability to safely and effectively respond.
All GSWSA employees must be familiar with all applicable sections of this plan and must be able to safely and effectively implement this plan with little or no warning.
During a major emergency or disaster, GSWSA could be “on our own” for up to 72 hours before outside resources could begin to arrive and assist.
GSWSA has capabilities which, if effectively used in the event of a natural or manmade emergency, would permit us to be largely self-sufficient at:
Protecting the lives of our employees and surrounding community which could be affected by our facilities / processes.
Continuing the production and distribution of water for fire suppression activities and in most instances, continued distribution of potable water.
Continuing the collection and treatment of wastewater - as well as other related sanitary and environmental protection issues.
If emergency incidents affect more than just GSWSA, it is likely the government of Horry County would take action to maximize the preservation of life and property. This plan prepares GSWSA to be as self-sufficient as possible but also prepares us to participate effectively as needed in regional plans implemented by Horry County and State of South Carolina, etc.
Numerous agencies and organizations in the County own and operate heavy equipment, machinery, vehicles, and engineering resources which, in the event of an emergency, could be used to aid GSWSA. Additional equipment, engineering expertise, and trained equipment operators may also be available from private contractors and construction companies in our vicinity. (Refer to Appendix 4 and Appendix 6.) There are a number of both formal and informal mutual aid programs that can be invoked to bring additional resources from other water and/or wastewater utilities throughout the state of South Carolina. (Examples include the South Carolina American Water Works Association (SC AWWA) Emergency Preparedness Committee’s Mutual Aid Program and the South Carolina Rural Water Association’s Mutual Aid Program.)
HAZARD / VULNERABILITY ANALYSIS SUMMARY
The State of South Carolina developed and maintains a Hazard Analysis as part of its Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). This analysis was one of several important resources utilized in developing a Hazard / Vulnerability / Risk Analysis specific to GSWSA.
Horry County coordinated the development of a Hazard Analysis as part of the Horry County All-Hazards Mitigation Plan. GSWSA serves on the Planning Committee for this regional plan, and participates in routine updates and revisions to this plan. This Hazard Mitigation Plan and its associated Hazard Analysis are extremely important resources utilized to develop and maintain GSWSA’s specific Hazard Analysis and Emergency Management Plans in general.
The GSWSA Hazard / Vulnerability Analysis Table immediately following this section summarizes GSWSA’s specific Hazard or Vulnerability Analysis. A numeric vulnerability rating was determined for each potential type of emergency based on three major categories: probability, impact, and available response resources. Specifically, each type of emergency was rated based on the following six criteria.
Probability – with 1 being the lowest likelihood of occurrence and 5 being the highest likelihood of occurrence. (The State and County analysis were extremely helpful in providing historical and/or statistical data to aid in this rating.)
Human Impact – with 1 being the lowest potential number of injuries and/or deaths and 5 being the highest.
Property Impact – with 1 being the lowest potential cost to repair / replace damaged property and 5 being the highest.
Business Impact – with 1 being the lowest business impact (business interruption, company in violation of contractual agreements, regulatory citations and/or fines, legal costs, etc.) and 5 being the highest.
Internal Resources – with 1 indicating internal resources available to respond to and deal with the emergency are strongest and 5 indicating they are weakest.
External Resources – with 1 indicating external resources available to respond to and deal with the emergency are strongest and 5 indicating they are weakest.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES and ACTIVITIES
Mitigation involves activities or measures that either prevent the occurrence of an emergency or reduce vulnerability by minimizing the adverse impacts of an emergency. Hurricane shutters on buildings or containment systems for chemicals are examples of mitigation measures.
Preparation involves activities or measures that are planned for and put in place prior to an emergency for the purpose of supporting and enhancing response to an emergency if and when it does occur. Developing plans, training on those plans, and conducting emergency exercises / drills are examples of preparation measures.
Response involves activities or measures intended to address the immediate and short-term effects of an emergency that has already happened or is currently happening. Response activities generally focus on the following priorities:
Protect and preserve life, safety, and health
Stabilize the emergency, minimize additional impact, and begin restoration
Protect unaffected property and the environment
Recovery involves activities or measures intended to return the systems completely to their pre-emergency conditions – normal operations. Short-term recovery activities are intended to return critical systems to at least a minimal level of operation while long-term recovery activities may take months to fully return to systems to “normal”.
PLAN ACTIVATION and IMPLEMENTATION
The Chief Executive Officer will determine those incidents requiring formal activation of the Emergency Management Plan.
Once an emergency condition has been declared, it shall be classified in accordance with the guidance contained in Section 1.6.4 of this plan. The intent of this is to ensure a reasonable, yet appropriate, level of response to the situation.
Once an emergency condition has been declared and classified, an appropriate Incident Command System (ICS) organization and structure shall be implemented to ensure safe and efficient incident management.
All Response activities, as well as Short-Term Recovery activities, shall be managed under ICS until a formal directive to “Stand Down” has been issued.
OPERATING CONDITION (OPCON) LEVELS
LEVEL of READINESS
Normal, routine operations and preparedness level.
An emergency situation that may require activation and implementation of Emergency Management Plan is POSSIBLE.
An emergency situation requiring full or partial activation of the EOC and Emergency Management Plan is LIKELY.
An emergency situation that may require full activation of the EOC and implementation of Emergency Management Plan is IMMINENT.
An emergency situation requiring full activation and implementation of Emergency Management Plan IS OCCURING; emergency response operations are underway; the highest level of emergency operations.
The “emergency” situation has ended, and efforts shift to the process of restoring all systems to their pre-emergency condition, or normal operations.
EMERGENCY CLASSIFICATION LEVELS
The size, urgency, and complexity of a response should be in direct proportion to the needs of the incident. Classifying the level of an emergency will help ensure an appropriate response and assist in prioritizing activities. Under-responding can allow incidents to escalate, perhaps dramatically, while over-responding ties-up valuable resources unnecessarily.
The following guidelines should be used to help classify the severity level of each emergency incident. These are guidelines only. Every incident will be different and must be classified based upon its specific degrees of urgency, severity, complexity, and possible consequences.
LEVEL 1 EMERGENCY (STANDARD “EMERGENCY”)
STANDARD: These incidents, while not a daily occurrence, are dealt with often enough they are fairly routine in nature. The situation can generally be handled at departmental levels. They may require some support but minimal, if any. (See Section 1.10.2 Level 1 ICS)
LEVEL 2 EMERGENCY (MINOR EMERGENCY)
MINOR: These incidents are more serious than “Routine” and may require some level of emergency support and assistance. May involve more than one department, and personnel may be re-directed from normal duties. May require “Partial Activation” of the GSWSA Emergency Operations Center (EOC). (See Section 1.10.3, Level 2 ICS)
LEVEL 3 EMERGENCY (MODERATE EMERGENCY)
MODERATE: These incidents are more serious than “Minor” and will require emergency support and assistance. May involve several departments and personnel may be re-directed from normal duties to assist. May require “Partial” or even “Limited Activation” of GSWSA EOC. (See Section 1.10.4, Level 3 ICS)
LEVEL 4 EMERGENCY (SERIOUS EMERGENCY)
SERIOUS: These incidents are more serious than “Moderate” and will require emergency support and assistance. Partial, if not full, activation of this plan will be required. Will likely require “Limited Activation” of the GSWSA EOC and may require “Full Activation”. Will likely involve several departments and personnel may be re-directed from their normal duties to assist. Public information and media issues are very likely. (See Section 1.10.5, Level 4 ICS)
LEVEL 5 EMERGENCY (MAJOR EMERGENCY)
MAJOR: These incidents will have severe impact on the organization and will require full activation of this plan involving the highest level of emergency management and operations. Modified operational plans may be required. Complete recovery time may exceed two weeks. Requires “Full Activation” of the GSWSA EOC. (See Section 1.10.6, Level 5 ICS)
COORDINATION with COUNTY, STATE, and FEDERAL PLANS
The United States Federal Response Plan (FRP), the State of South Carolina Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), and the Horry County EOP all include a standardized mechanism for requesting assistance. A system based on Incident Support Functions (ISFs) was developed and implemented whereby all preparedness, response, and recovery operations are assigned to a specific ISF. That ISF is the coordinating point for all related activities.
Should GSWSA need or choose to request assistance from the county, state, or federal government(s), the following procedures shall apply.
COORDINATION with COUNTY GOVERNMENT
If the Horry County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has NOT been activated, GSWSA will submit requests for assistance directly to Horry County Emergency Preparedness Department (EPD) personnel. Very limited Fire, Health, or Police type emergencies will be handled initially through the 911 system and subsequently coordinated through the responding unit.
If the Horry County EOC HAS been activated, GSWSA will attend all Horry County EOC scheduled or called meetings or briefings and forward requests for assistance to the appropriate EOC agency.
Briefing Schedule – 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.
COORDINATION with STATE GOVERNMENT
Most coordination with State Government will be through the Horry County EOC.
When Horry County EOC is not involved, coordination will be through the Governor’s office or designated Emergency Management Coordinator assigned to the emergency.
Notification of an emergency situation may come from a wide variety of sources. Outside notifications of an emergency will generally come to, or be routed to, the Executive Staff who will take the necessary actions to initiate the appropriate emergency response.
Notification of an emergency situation originating from within GSWSA should normally follow the appropriate chain-of-command as indicated below. (For additional details, refer to the Emergency Communication Plan.)
The affected supervisor(s)
The affected Department / Division Chief(s)
The Chief Executive Officer
Once emergency management operations and activities are underway, all potentially affected GSWSA employees as well as outside organizations and agencies shall be notified and routinely updated as provided for in the Emergency Communication Plan.
EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER (EOC)
The Safety Manager shall coordinate and support the operations of the GSWSA EOC, and shall provide guidance to the Incident Commander regarding the appropriate level and complexity of EOC staffing and operations based upon the needs of the incident.