For decades, Western Municipal has provided clean, reliable water 24/7/365. However, at any time, an emergency or prolonged electrical power shutdown could temporarily restrict the amount of water Western has available for delivery.
That’s why Western takes steps to prepare for water shortages beyond the district’s control – and why Western customers should too.
Because of recent deadly wildfires in California, power utilities such as Southern California Edison (SCE) now can decide to shut off customers’ power for hours – or days – as a fire-prevention measure during hot, dry, windy weather.
How electricity and water are linked
Western uses SCE electricity to pump, move, treat and deliver water. Therefore, a prolonged, wide-ranging power shutdown could affect Western’s ability to meet typical customer demand for indoor and outdoor water use.
Western builds, tests and updates a range of processes and protocols to ensure exceptional emergency preparedness in all facets of its operations.
To mobilize for PSPS and other emergencies, Western has ensured that all WMWD facilities have the flexibility, agility and equipment to weather long and expansive power outages. Steps taken include:
- Expanding and strategically deploying Western’s supply of backup power generators.
- Equipping facilities such as pump stations with quick “plug in” capacity to expedite hookups of portable power systems.
- Coordinating closely with SCE to avoid or minimize PSPS-related disruptions to Western operations.
In the event of a power outage or other emergency:
- Limit indoor water use, prioritizing health and hygiene.
- Drink at least 2 quarts of water a day, or 3 to 4 quarts a day if you are in a hot climate, pregnant, sick or a child.
More Emergency Preparedness Tips
How and Where to Store Water
- In a cool, dark place in your home, vehicle and workplace.
- Preferably in store-bought, factory-sealed water containers.
- Alternately, in food-grade-quality containers made for storing water and available from sporting goods stores and other retailers. These containers must be washed, sanitized, and rinsed.
Emergency Water Sources
Indoor Safe Sources
- Melted ice cubes
- Water drained from the water heater (if the water heater is undamaged)
- Liquids from canned foods
- Water drained from pipes
- Hot water boilers (home heating system)
- Water beds (fungicides or chemicals may make water unsafe to use)
- Water from the toilet bowl or flush tank
- Swimming pools and spas (chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for safe drinking but can be used for personal hygiene and cleaning)
If you must find water outside your home, try:
- Moving bodies of water such as flowing rivers or streams
- Natural springs
Treat all water of uncertain quality before using it for drinking, food preparation, washing dishes, brushing teeth, or making ice. Contaminated water can cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis.
Of the many ways to treat water, none is perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them through coffee filters or layers of clean cloth.
To treat water of uncertain quality in an emergency, when no other reliable clean water source is available, the options include:
- Boiling. This is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Let the water cool before drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers.
- Chlorination. You can use household liquid bleach to kill disease-causing microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach with 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. To ensure potency, use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle.
Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.
- Distillation. While boiling and chlorination will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove germs that resist those methods. Distillation involves boiling water and collecting only the vapor that condenses. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so the cup hangs right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
For more details, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
- Update your contact information with both Western and your electricity provider, to receive notice of weather-related power shutdowns or other outages.
- Store two weeks worth of clean, bottled water: 1 gallon per day, per person, plus extra water for pets or special needs. Note: While people can survive for long stretches without food, they can die in as few as three days without water.
- Store at least three days’ worth of nonperishable, easy to consume food, along with a manual can opener.
- Create an “in home” emergency kit with flashlight(s), a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, matches, first-aid kit, hand sanitizer/towelettes, and a map of the local area.
- Create a “to go” emergency kit with clothing, blankets, baby and/or pet food, hygiene items, cash, passport(s), a whistle, and medications/eyeglasses/hearing aids/medical supplies as necessary. Know how to manually open your garage door.
- Get power-shutoff alerts from SCE
- De-energization (PSPS) and the CPUC
- California Department of Public Health Emergency Preparedness Office (EPO)
- Red Cross, on emergency preparedness
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- FEMA Guide on Food and Water in an Emergency
See also: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s graphic novel, “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic” (a disaster preparedness story for the family)
For more information, call Western’s customer care team at 951.571.7104.