Business Continuity

Business Continuity


As a critical infrastructure, the water sector bears a significant burden to continue operations under all conditions, including during planned and unplanned events. This responsibility is not getting any easier for water and wastewater utilities, considering the trends in weather-related events that are increasing in frequency and severity. Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) address the multitude of events that may affect the continuity of operations, including but not limited to power outages, supply chain disruptions, communications outages, critical staff emergencies, and physical damage to facilities. 

Supply Chain Tops List of Negative Impacts for Water Business

According to 2024 State of the Water Industry survey respondents, supply chain issues have the most significant negative impact on the North American water sector. The sector grapples with elevated demand and worldwide manufacturing delays affecting the acquisition of essential chemicals, goods, and services necessary for efficient operation. The vulnerabilities in water supply systems brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate these challenges, while conflicts and geopolitical tensions add further complexity to supply chain concerns. In essence, a confluence of environmental, social, and geopolitical factors persistently shapes and tests the resilience of the global water sector.

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Strategies to Enhance Utility Financial Resilience

In these uncertain times, water utilities are always under stress. But those that analyze their specific risks and develop comprehensive financial resilience plans should be prepared to weather any storm and guide their customers through potentially rough waters.

A financial resilience plan ensures water utilities can continue to provide reliable water services while addressing economic uncertainty, which can be driven by the capital-intensive nature of the business. Because it relies on expensive, long-lived assets that directly protect public health, the water industry is under heavy political pressure in a dynamic regulatory environment. Too often, utilities operate in a revenue structure that is misaligned with its high-fixed/low-variable costs. Inflation and supply chain disruptions also have increased uncertainty in the sector.

Read: Consider Strategies to Enhance Utility Financial Resilience


Guidance Documents

AWWA Manuals

To read the full text, click on the article links below, then login following the “Login with AWWA” button. You must be a current member to read the full text.

You may also search additional articles on this or other topics published in the JAWWA, Opflow and AWWA Water Science

Water Infrastructure Conference and Exposition

Much of our water and wastewater infrastructure needs rehabilitation and replacement. Shifting population patterns and the need for vigilance against human-made and natural threats place increasing demands on utilities.

Join us as AWWA hosts the Water Infrastructure Conference & Exposition, an event focused on solutions to infrastructure challenges.  This conference addresses essential asset management planning and programs, the latest on lead service line issues, water loss, operation and maintenance best practices, and reinvestment strategies.  Critical infrastructure protection through emergency preparedness planning and enhanced physical and cyber security measures are also covered.

Technical Committee Engagement

AWWA members are recognized globally for their industry expertise and their generosity in sharing that expertise for a better world through better water. AWWA members participate in committee activities, developing conference programs, writing technical manuals, developing standards, creating educational content and contributing to AWWA publications. Committee members primarily interact through conference calls, emails, and face to face meetings at conferences and events. Access more information on volunteering for an AWWA committee.

The following committees are active in addressing utility risk and resilience issues:

  • Emergency Preparedness and Security 

EPA FAQ providing actionable guidance for improving water system resilience to supply disruptions: Supply Chain Resilience Guide for Water and Wastewater Utilities | US EPA

EPA Publication – Understanding Water Treatment Chemical Supply Chains and the Risk of Disruptions:
Understanding Water Treatment Chemical Supply Chains and the Risk of Disruptions (

Using the Supply Chain Resilience Guide methodology (criticality, likelihood, vulnerability), the risk profile for 46 chemicals directly used in water treatment or used to manufacture water treatment chemicals can be found here: Water Treatment Chemical Supply Chain Profiles | US EPA

Section 1441 of the Safe Drinking Water Act provides EPA with authority to issue a certification of need for a water system if a water a necessary treatment chemical is not available: Safe Drinking Water Act Section 1441 | US EPA

The Defense Production Act authorizes the President to require preferential acceptance of contracts and orders necessary to support the national defense, including critical infrastructure: How to Use the Defense Production Act | US EPA

EPA’s webpage for current supply chain disruptions: Current Supply Chain Disruptions | US EPA

EPA does not monitor supply chain disruptions in real-time. Instead, they rely upon utilities alerting them to shortages. If your utility is experiencing a short that is impacting, or has the potential to impact water and/or wastewater systems, you can report it to


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