California´s October 1989 earthquake and its effects have been thoroughly analyzed and reviewed by engineers and water utility specialists. Area utility managers interviewed by the authors believe their organizations did fairly well during and after the earthquake, but all suggested improvements that would lessen problems in a future earthquake. In this article the authors review those areas for improvement, including, among many others, internal organization, communication with other public utilities (mutual aid planning), access to supplies, emergency disinfection, construction methods, and location of distribution lines. The authors suggest that the development and regular testing of an official Emergency Response Plan is crucial if utilities are to perform effectively during the confusing and stressful circumstances of an earthquake or other disaster.
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