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Sandwich City Council updated on federal mandate to complete water system assessment survey

The City of Sandwich is required to complete a risk and resilience assessment and develop an emergency response plan under provisions of America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

The city has until June 2021 to complete the risk and resilience assessment, which is the first part of the act, and then has six months to develop an emergency response plan.

Tim Holdeman, director of business development for Engineering Enterprises, Inc., of Sugar Grove, explained act and its requirements during the Sandwich City Council Committee of the Whole meeting on Sept. 21.

“The new regulation was passed in 2018 by Congress and signed by the President,” Holdeman said. “The intention of the new regulation, which is an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulation, is to help drinking water utilities identify the vulnerabilities in their systems and then to plan for emergencies that might come about as a result of realizing those vulnerabilities.”

EEI proposed to serve as consultant on the assessment and plan for Sandwich, with Holdeman estimating that it would cost the city between $45,000 and $50,000. EEI has already completed assessments for Elgin, Joliet and Rockford.

“We have plenty of time to get it done,” he said. “It generally takes between six to eight months based on the size of Sandwich. After that you have six months to get certification of the emergency response plan so it’s a program that works together.”

It’s also a requirement now for every five years, with utilities responsible for reviewing its assessment and submitting a recertification that the assessment has been reviewed and, if necessary, revised.

“This is an on-going concern in our nation,” he said.“Obviously this started as a result of the 9/11 attack, and at that time there was a regulation passed called the (Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness Response Act).”

Council members did not make a decision on how they will proceed, although it is investigating the possibility of doing it in-house, something that alderman Fred Kreinbrink wondered was possible.

Kreinbrink explained that Tom Horak, director of publicworks/city engineer for Sandwich, has a lot of information gathered already.

“I know we’ve done quite a few studies and Tom has a lot of that information already,” Kreinbrink said. “Just the age of our infrastructure is a critical component to damage if there’s an earthquake and so forth, the condition of our buildings, that sort of thing.”

Holdeman said that EEI’s prior working relationship with Horak and Brian Voekel, superintendent of water for Sandwich, makes his company a good fit to meet the requirements of this act.

“We think we can really benefit the city in that time periodof doing this program to help them understand what their vulnerabilities areand maybe even bring some ideas back to council,” he said. “How can we be moreresilient? How can we improve the systems? That’s what our objective is goingto be, to help staff understand what the vulnerabilities are and what we can doabout it moving forward.”

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