Electric Power Reliability for Public Water Supply and Wastewater Utilities

AWWA believes that every water and wastewater utility should set uninterrupted service as an operating goal and include potential service interruptions in its risk assessment and resiliency plan.

Avoiding extended interruptions in water service is essential for protecting public health, fire safety, local economies, and the environment.

To provide uninterrupted service, water and wastewater systems require an acceptable level of electric power reliability. Every utility is unique with respect to its vulnerability to electric supply disruption and must undertake a critical assessment of the issue based on local conditions. For some utilities even a single small electric service outage can have significant consequences. Redundancy of supply or backup generating capacity tends to reduce risk.

Every public water supply and wastewater utility should assess the likelihood and consequences of a supply disruption, identify critical vulnerabilities, and consider alternative power or supply redundancy to mitigate service disruptions lasting up to 72 hours or longer if public health, environmental, or economic impacts are severe. As part of this process, careful thought must be given to how much water service (such as minimum daily demand) can be assured, given local circumstances. In addition, every utility should have a robust emergency response plan that includes a public communications plan tailored to its needs and circumstances, for use in case of an electric supply disruption.


Adopted by the Board of Directors June 8, 1975, revised Jan. 31, 1982, and revised Jan. 28, 1990, June 11, 2000, June 13, 2004. Jan. 17, 2010. Revised by the AWWA Board of Directors Jan. 19, 2014.