ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

In Case of Emergency: ISO IWA Aids in Securing the Safety of Drinking Water

New York, May 27, 2008

With the safety and security of drinking water a major concern worldwide, international standards can provide guidance for water supply organizations of all sizes and types. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently released an International Workshop Agreement (IWA) to aid in protecting drinking water supplies: IWA 6: 2008: Guidelines for the management of drinking water utilities under crisis conditions.

Consumers can aid in protecting drinking water by:

  • conserving water;
  • taking used motor oil to a recycling center;
  • properly disposing of toxic household garbage including cleaners and batteries;
  • avoid dumping chemicals into septic systems, dry wells, storm water drainage wells or other shallow disposal systems that discharge to ground water;
  • volunteering to clean up local watersheds; and
  • participating in public meetings to ensure drinking water is protected when land use decisions are made.

For more information visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

When a disruption in the drinking water supply occurs as a result of man-made or natural causes, emergency management is coordinated through local, state and federal laws and regulations. However, the responsibility of supplying water to consumers ultimately falls on water utility providers. IWA 6: 2008 offers both large and small providers best practices and tools to meet consumer expectations while coordinating with authorities.

IWA 6: 2008 provides water utilities with a proactive approach to security and emergency preparedness, contingency plans, and the performance of facilities, services, products and operations. The new international standard identifies and charts the critical elements significant to drinking water security; provides a framework for the management of drinking water emergencies; proposes tools for ensuring drinking water security; and offers models for water distribution system security.

The standard includes guidelines for:

  • water security products and means including water contamination detection and identification technologies, physical and electronic protection and hardening of water contamination containment;
  • optimized modes including the prediction of and dealing with dissemination of contamination in a water system, designing the most effective and efficient way for positioning monitors and means of containment in water supply systems, and best practice for decontamination;
  • technologies and processes for managing a water security event that includes risk management, security and continuity management, communications, interoperability, training and competence; and
  • meeting legal and policy requirements.

IWA 6: 2008 is the first standard to be published in a comprehensive suite of standards for water security and suggests other relevant international standards to be developed. This methodology promotes a continuous process for the enhancement of guidelines on management systems for drinking water utilities under crisis conditions.

Water security standardization is vital for utility providers faced with increasing security risks and threats, more stringent legislation and regulation, heightened awareness of the need for adequate emergency response and remediation planning, and the need to ensure operational continuity. Continual review and improvements of drinking water standards will aid utility providers to face unexpected emergencies and will help ensure consumer safety.

Further information may be found in this ISO press release.

An International Workshop Agreement (IWA) is an ISO document produced through an international workshop rather than through the full ISO technical committee process. Market players and other stakeholders directly participate in developing an IWA and do not have to go through a national delegation. An IWA can be developed swiftly (published in less than 12 months) to address a rapidly emerging market need or public policy requirement.

Standards Portal