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I’m WARNing you….

2013 January 24

By Christina Catanese

…no, you’re not in trouble.  In fact,  WARN is where you’d go as a drinking water or wastewater facility to get OUT of trouble.

WARN logoA Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN) is a network of utilities helping other utilities  respond to and recover from emergencies. If a utility has been damaged or anticipates it could be damaged from a natural disaster or human-caused event, WARNs provide a network for the utility to get help.  This can take the form of personnel, equipment, and many other services.  Each state has its own WARN – check out this list to get information about WARNs near you.

Got a complicated main break that’s draining a storage tank, and need an odd-sized coupling to fix it?  Utilities can reach out to their WARN in this situation and get a spare from a neighboring facility to prevent outages for customers. Big storm cause a power failure?  WARNs have been used to respond to many storm incidents, using, for example, the common practice of sharing portable generators among utilities so a backup is available in case of a power outage.  Recently, utilities have been helping each other in the northeast after Hurricane Sandy struck to keep our drinking and surface waters treated and safe.  Read more about WARNs in these resources.

While participation and response in a WARN is voluntary, the success of the network depends on a strong base of willing utilities.  With a growing number of utilities in each state on board, the rest of us can focus on stocking up on canned food and batteries when a storm is on the way.

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, in the Water Protection Division’s Office of Program Support. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Hydrogeology. When not in the office, Christina enjoys performing, choreographing and teaching modern dance.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. John Whitler permalink
    January 24, 2013

    In addition to the AWWA resources you referenced, EPA also has some great stuff on WARNs as well.

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  2. Sonya permalink
    January 28, 2013

    Interesting, I never knew about this! Unfortunately, the Washington State link ( is out of date.

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  3. John Whitler permalink
    January 29, 2013

    WAWARN is currently without an active website due to some transition within the program. The current chair is Dave Brown from Yakima. You can find his information on if you would like additional information about WAWARN.

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