Water Utilities Supply Chain

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The City of Klamath Falls, Oregon water system
provides drinking water to approximately 40,000
residents. The water system is the largest water
provider in the region, producing and delivering
an average of 2.5 billion gallons annually. The city
is reliant on its groundwater sources. Gaseous
chlorine is used for disinfection at each of the
system's 13 groundwater wells.

Additionally, there are no neighboring utilities for
system interconnections. It is imperative that the
city maintain a steady supply of gaseous chlorine
and an inventory of the necessary equipment to
keep producing potable water for its residents.
Otherwise, water must be hauled in.

First Challenge: A Shrinking
Supplier Landscape

Historically, the water department was able to
purchase needed parts and equipment from local
vendors. However, the vendor landscape changed
over the past 12 years resulting in fewer options and
longer delivery times.

The department could still place orders with their
primary vendors, most located 75 miles away, but
limited supply and high demand impacted delivery.
Dealing with the prospect of prolonged standard
delivery times and prohibitively high expedited
shipping costs, the city instead decided to establish
a water department warehouse to keep inventory
readily available on-site.

The warehouse is a critical part of the water
department's operations and contingency
planning. Brass fittings, pipes of varying materials,
meter boxes, and other items typically needed
for routine operations can be found on the
shelves. The warehouse is overseen by a fulltime
warehouse coordinator, who maintains the parts
and materials inventory including procurement,
shipping, receiving, stocking, and computerized
inventory and accounting. Stock levels vary based
on each item's delivery lead time and how hard it
is to find. Neighboring utilities are also able to loan
or purchase parts and supplies. The City of Klamath
Falls has mitigated the impact of delays and
shortages with their existing inventory.


The Next Challenge:
Maximizing Storage

Maximizing storage doesn't always require an
increase in space or financial investment. In late
spring of 2021, the Oregon Water and Wastewater
Agency Response Network (ORWARN) notified
its members, including Klamath Falls Water
Department, that there was the potential for a
regional chlorine shortage due to an electrical failure
at a major chlorine manufacturer in Washington
that serves utilities from San Diego to Seattle.

Klamath Falls decided to increase gaseous chlorine
storage to ride out any impending shortage. There
was no way to build new storage facilities in time,
so creative thinking was needed. Each of the city's
13 wells has a chlorine storage facility capable of
potentially housing two chlorine cylinders. Based
on seasonal demand, each well's facility was only
storing one or no cylinders. The department also
maintains a centralized chlorine storage facility that
acts as a staging area to replace spent cylinders
at the well storage sites. Staff moved all chlorine
cylinders in the central storage facility to the on-
site well storage locations to ensure that each well
had its maximum two cylinders. The department

also called their supplier and scheduled an
extra shipment of chlorine to fully replenish the
centralized storage facility, in addition to the
regularly scheduled monthly delivery.

Luckily, the Klamath Falls Water Department chlorine
storage strategy paid off. The depart ment did not run
out of chlorine and the chlorine manufacturer was
able to resume production earlier than expected.


Lessons Learned

In addition to the chlorine shortage, GOV ID 19 and
other events (e.g., Winter Storm IJri) have occurred,
making it difficult to obtain spare parts, plastic- and
polymer-based products, and meter boxes. The
department has noted lessons learned based on
these experiences:

 Mutual aid and assistance networks are
invaluable. The department credits ORWARN
with alerting the utility to the impending shortage
and giving it the time to respond effectively.
After the initial announcement, ORWARN also
surveyed all its members to determine who used
chlorine for disinfection. The resulting list was
then shared with all members so that utilities
would know who they could potentially contact

for extra chlorine if their supplies were running
low, especially if their contracted suppliers could
not fulfill orders.

	Operational flexibility can increase
redundancy. The department is considering
converting some of its wells to use liquid chlorine
for disinfection in the future. Utilizing both liquid
and gaseous chlorine for disinfection would
give the department more response options for
future chemical supply chain disruptions.

	On-site inventory is critical. The warehouse
Klamath Falls started years ago when they lost
their local parts supplier has been critical to the
department's resilience. Through its warehouse
operations, the department has been able to
increase its stock of hard-to-get brass parts
and meter boxes.

For Klamath Fails, maximizing existing storage, as well as investing in new storage space, has led to the
department's ability to withstand supply chain disruptions and remain resilient for what comes next.

Additional Resources

You can find more information on using
supply chain management best practices and
preparing for supply chain challenges at httos://

Office of Water (4608T)

EPA 817-F22-004

July 2022