United States
Environmental Protection
Agency
 EPA
  ^                    Water/Waste water Agency  Response Network

                         (WARN):  Tabletop Exercise Facilitator Guide

          Background
          The water sector (drinking water and waste water utilities) has been developing intrastate mutual aid and
          assistance agreements,  commonly referred  to  as  Water/Wastewater Agency  Response  Networks
          (WARN). The number of statewide agreements has more than tripled in the past year, leading to a better-
          prepared  and more resilient Water Sector. As with any emergency response agreement or plan there is a
          need to exercise and validate the mutual aid/assistance operational plan utilized during activation of a
          WARN. EPA is responding to that need by developing tabletop exercise materials and will support the
          facilitation of exercises.
          Tabletop  exercises, a form of discussion-based exercises, encourage participants to discuss issues in depth
          and to develop decisions through slow-paced problem solving, rather than the rapid,  spontaneous decision
          making that occurs under actual or simulated emergency conditions. These conditions will help WARN
          members coordinate more effectively with state and local emergency management agencies, state primacy
          and permitting agencies, federal agencies and other audiences.
          Purpose
          EPA has designed the tabletop exercises materials to bring together key personnel to discuss hypothetical
          scenarios in an informal setting. This type of exercise typically is aimed at facilitating understanding of
          concepts, identifying strengths and shortcomings, and affecting changes in the approach to a particular
          situation. While some WARNs are well-established and have responded to emergencies, others are in the
          development stages and have not practiced implementation of their agreements. The tabletop exercises
          materials are designed to guide each WARN in the development and execution of a tabletop exercise to
          create, update, and/or improve its procedures.
          Conducting the Tabletop Exercises
          Tabletop  exercises will  allow WARNs to practice and exercise their mutual aid/assistance operational
          plan  or other procedures so that requesting and responding utilities have a better understanding of how to
          implement their WARN agreement. By practicing the  functionality and operations  of activating the
          agreement, a WARN will respond more effectively and efficiently during an actual incident. Additionally,
          tabletop exercises facilitate opportunities to:
               Build/strengthen relationships between WARN members
               Define roles and responsibilities of all WARN participants, including the involvement of utilities,
                 state primacy and permitting agencies,  state and local emergency management and response
                 agencies, federal agencies (as appropriate) and supporting professional organizations
               Review and simulate procedures to identify "gaps" or areas for improvement
               Optimize mobilization/demobilization and resource-matching procedures
               Validate procedures for activating and modifying WARN agreements
               Refine  components  of the WARN agreement,  mutual aid/assistance  operational  plan, and
                 administration to manage the WARN
          Building  on the successful EPA "Emergency Response Tabletop Exercises for  Drinking Water and
          Wastewater Systems CD-ROM," the  tabletop exercise materials will be widely available as an EPA
          publication and will include instructions for planning, organizing and conducting an exercise  specific to
          the circumstances of an individual WARN. Sample materials include exercise scenarios (flood, hurricane,
          and earthquake), discussion questions, presentation slides, and a sample evaluation form. The materials
          also provide instructions for a novice facilitator to lead the discussion, guide participants and keep the
          focus on exercise objectives. The materials are flexible enough to allow an experienced  facilitator to
          modify them.
          For Additional Information
          Visit www.NationalWARN.org. or contact John Whitler of EPA (whitler .john(giepa.gov).
         Office of Water (4608-T)  | EPA 817-F-08-003   |  September 2008 |  www.epa.qov/watersecuritv

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