Emergencies and Disasters in Drinking Water Supply and Sewerage Systems: Guidelines for Effective Response

Emergencies and disasters in drinking water supply and sewerage systemsDrinking water services and sewerage systems are among the essential elements needed to guarantee the health and well-being of a population. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the combination of natural hazards (earthquakes, floods, and volcanoes, among others) and high vulnerability conditions all too frequently result in severe damage to potable water and sewerage systems, major economic losses and serious changes in the quality of services.

Although many countries currently have plans to respond to emergency situations, such recent disasters as Hurricanes Georges and Mitch (1998), rains and landslides in Venezuela (1999), and earthquakes in El Salvador (2001) have demonstrated that having a plan is not sufficient. Ensuring that the plan works and has been prepared on the basis of the specific vulnerability of the system in question is imperative.

This book was prepared jointly by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the International Division of Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Health in Emergencies and Disasters (DIEDE), a technical division of the Inter-American Association of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering (AIDIS). It is a practical guide for developing emergency and disaster plans for these systems, and it stems from a detailed knowledge of the threats and existing vulnerabilities. The guide reviews and surpasses other technical documents published in the past by PAHO and is an essential complement to the book Natural Disaster Mitigation in Drinking Water and Sewerage Systems, published by PAHO in 1998.

This book is aimed at managers, administrators, planners and designers, as well as the personnel who operate and maintain these systems. It will assist in the adequate planning of disaster response, ensuring the quality and continuity of the services, and in this way, protect and preserve the health of the affected population.

You can request this publication from PAHO's Emergency Preparedness Program (disaster-publications@paho.org), or you can download it here in PDF format. You need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to read the files. The program can be downloaded free from Adobe.