Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported a chlorine shortage in California that may affect some ACWA member agencies’ operations. An electrical failure at Westlake Chemical in mid-June caused the chlorine supply disruption to water and wastewater facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and parts of California.
Today, state and local utilities attended a meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Water Security Division and Region 9 to express their concerns relating to the chlorine shortage and shipments. Section 1441 of the Safe Drinking Water Act was discussed as the legal means for a water utility to have a supplier/manufacturer provide that utility with a product that is in short supply. It prioritizes critical utilities over other less essential items. The entire process for an order to be issued to a producer or manufacturer can take two-four weeks depending on the location of the supplier. Delivery time and repackaging also needs to be taken into account. EPA will confer with the Department of Commerce and other industry leaders to communicate the need to prioritize delivering disinfectant products to water and wastewater utilities.
ACWA has been actively engaged with California-Nevada Section American Water Works Association (CA-NV AWWA), California Water Environmental Association (CWEA), California Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (CalWARN), California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) and California State Water Board Office of Emergency Services staff to coordinate efforts on timing, scale and available resources. Below are some recommendations and resources developed through these coordinating efforts.
- Timing of Shortage: While it is hoped the manufacturer will resume production sooner than expected, it could take up to 20 days for supplies to return to normal levels. ACWA, CA-NV AWWA, CWEA, CalWARN, CASA, and State Water Board Office of Emergency Services staff encourage water and wastewater agencies to actively monitor the situation and take appropriate precautionary measures.
- Scale of the Issue: More than 75 water and wastewater systems responded to the voluntary California Chlorine and Chemicals Supply Survey between June 19 -21. Information received indicates that most responding systems have sufficient supply, either on hand or via confirmed deliveries, through early July.
- Available Resources: Systems that are experiencing chemical supply challenges are encouraged to work through normal mutual aid/assistance channels and engage their local emergency management agency at the city or county level, as appropriate, in accordance with SEMS procedures. Regional water board staff and district engineers are also available to assist. The following EPA webpages provide specific avenues for relief that water and wastewater systems can pursue if they experience supply chain disruptions which may result in an impending shortfall of critical materials:
Questions about the chlorine shortage can be directed to ACWA Regulatory Advocate Nick Blair.