Over the last three years, severe weather events have plagued the Northeast, risking public safety, disrupting utility service and putting undue stress on critical infrastructure. As a result, emergency response planning has become more imperative than ever before.
On July 22, United Water Executive Vice President Bob Iacullo presented to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) on the company’s emergency preparedness and response to Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and more recently Superstorm Sandy. He stressed the importance of emergency response planning, with particular emphasis on infrastructure resiliency.
“The value of our infrastructure investments was unmistakable during recent severe weather events, including Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene,” said Iacullo. “While residents experienced prolonged outages with energy utilities, United Water was able to maintain uninterrupted water service for essentially all of our customers, even though we lost power at virtually all of our facilities.”
Since 2010, United Water New York has invested nearly $80 million in capital improvements in Rockland and Orange Counties. Backup generators were installed at several facilities while upgrades were made at Lake DeForest Water Treatment Plant to ensure compliance with water quality standards, efficiency and dependability. Similarly, United Water New Jersey invested nearly $60 million in infrastructure improvements. Backup generators were installed at Haworth Treatment Plant, the customer service call center in Hackensack and the IT data center in Harrington Park, which ensured service reliability and allowed us to keep customers informed during severe weather conditions.
Despite power outages and some property damage to our water and wastewater facilities during Sandy, providing continuous water service to customers remained a top priority. Emergency personnel, including engineers, operations managers and communications personnel, remained on site, closely monitoring dams and storage facilities and working around the clock to keep customers informed.
“Sandy tested our resiliency in many ways,” said Iacullo. “But our commitment to public safety and providing uninterrupted water service to our customers never wavered. By continually investing capital dollars to improve our infrastructure, we are ensuring the reliability and efficiency of our service during the most challenging times.”