211324 US EPA's Role in Water and Public Health Communication

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 2:30 PM

Cynthia C. Dougherty , Director, The Office of Ground Water & Drinking Water, The US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Nanci E. Gelb , Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water/OGWDW, Office of Water, US EPA, Washington, DC
Public health organizations, water utilities and regulatory agencies all have a vital role in providing drinking water that is safe, clean and secure. Partnerships between these groups can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of water resource management.

Cooperation and communication between utilities and public health organizations is a key aspect of the Water Security Initiative, EPA's program to design and deploy contamination warning systems at drinking water utilities. In 2006, EPA began a pilot project in Cincinnati to implement a new conceptual design to prepare for and respond to water contamination events. The design included plans to engage public health officials in leveraging existing public health data tools and in developing consequence management plans.

Through creation of a Public Health User's Group and participation in workshops with key stakeholders, an ongoing dialogue has been established in Cincinnati that improves communication and coordination between the water utility and its local public health partners. The Cincinnati pilot is now fully operational and lessons learned from that experience are being used to develop guidance documents and to inform the development of four additional pilots that are now underway.

Implementation of EPA's Lead and Copper Rule is another area demonstrating the importance of collaboration between public health organizations and water utilities. Because the problem of lead in drinking water does not stop at the water treatment site, public education is essential in ensuring water safety. The two groups working together can be more effective in reaching this goal.

Learning Objectives:
This session will provide the larger view regarding water quality, health and communication issues from federal agency perspectives and how state & local community agencies put in place practical steps toward integrating water & health issues. It addresses emerging programs and applications at different levels of government and will: Describe relationships that exist or should exist between water providers and public health agencies, at the federal, state and local levels. Discuss emerging tracking systems that are being cooperatively developed by Federal agencies (CDC & EPA) and how water providers and public health officials will coordinate with these new tracking systems. Explain communication strategies regarding water safety and how these strategies can be established at different levels of government.

Keywords: Water Quality, Partnerships

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Deputy Director, Office of Ground Water & Drinking Water//OGWDW, Office of Water, US Environmental Protection Agency
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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