Field Notes - How to Receive Bulk Water

Emergencies may require your system to secure the delivery of bulk water, which allows the system to provide quality drinking water to its consumers while the staff deals with the emergency. Are you prepared to ask the appropriate questions from suppliers and haulers? Not communicating with all involved may lead to lapses in your response plan. Poor experiences between parties may lead to the loss of a solid resource or support mechanism that you worked hard to set up in your Emergency Response Plan. This ultimately adds to the response delay in providing water to your customers.

Do you know what your storage tank connection is comprised of? Do both the hauler and the system operator know what is needed to accommodate a connection between the hauler's trailer/pump apparatus and your storage tank connection? It can become frustrating when your load of water arrives and you find it impractical to transfer the water load to your storage facility. Can your tank be filled by gravity flow or would it need pumping to be filled? It's important to ask these questions well before you need a bulk water delivery.

It is also critical to list multiple haulers and/or water providers on your response plan in the event that the first on your list is not available or cannot respond to your needs in an emergency. Many municipalities in your area are willing to provide water for your needs and they will have similar concerns particular to filling trucks. They are willing to provide water but may ask you arrange for transportation.

Some typical questions to ask in advance of needing service from haulers are:

  • Can you anticipate how long and how much water you will need during your crisis?
  • What size loads can haulers provide?
  • Do you have resources set up with potable water supplies and can you provide water quality reports?
  • Which connection adapters are needed to off-load water from any one of those haulers?
  • Can you gravity feed the system or will it need pumping?
  • Is your connection top feed or bottom feed? This will dictate what type of pump is needed to overcome head as the tank fills.
  • Will you need additional hose to connect to the tank if close access proves difficult?
  • Will the hauler need permits to travel over state or local roads as roads are posted during spring thaws to load restrictions on truckers? You may be responsible for damage done to public roads. Ask your local Road Agent. They may provide temporary permitting during early morning hours since roads refreeze during cold nights.
  • Will access to your pump station limit the size of trailer or truck that can do the job? Other systems have dealt with this because the access road presented problems to the driver in maneuvering his trailer/truck appropriately. Ask if the company can review the site, as the usual driver would be the best person to determine the hauler's capabilities.
The more prepared you are, the easier it is to arrange for water transport and the safe transfer of water to your storage tank in the event that supplemental drinking water is needed for your customers. A sound procedure will ensure that you can spend more of your time dealing with the situation that required the emergency response in the first place.