All-hazards risk-assessment and consequence-analysis tools for drinking water and wastewater utilities

November 10, 2010 | General RCAP News

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing two software tools for risk assessment and consequence analysis:

  • The Vulnerability Self Assessment Tool (VSAT), an upgraded all-hazards risk-assessment tool
  • The Water Health and Economic Analysis Tool (WHEAT), a newly developed consequence-analysis tool

The release of VSAT and WHEAT will provide drinking water, wastewater, and combined utilities of all sizes with the capability to assess, plan for, and better respond to human-caused threats and natural disasters.

VSAT is an interactive desktop software tool that employs a proven methodology to enable users to perform customized risk assessments. The upgraded tool not only evaluates human-caused threats but has a new feature that allows users to assess four different natural disaster scenarios: hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes. VSAT has the flexibility for the user to assess other types of natural disasters as well.

WHEAT is an intuitive desktop software tool that assists drinking water utility owners and operators in quantifying public health impacts, utility financial costs, and regional economic impacts of an accidental or adverse event. Currently, WHEAT generates consequence results based on two scenarios for drinking water utilities: 1) release of a hazardous gas and 2) loss of operating assets. There are future plans to develop similar wastewater utility modules.

The benefits to drinking water and wastewater utilities using these tools are the following:

  • Tools are easy to use due to their intuitive software design
  • Users can easily import consequence results from WHEAT into VSAT to better refine consequence assessments that support overall risk assessments
  • Users can use VSAT to develop utility-specific risk-analysis summaries and reports and create an emergency-response plan
  • Reports from VSAT and WHEAT can assist in setting resource-allocation priorities and aid in business-continuity planning
  • Tools can help in building more secure and resilient drinking water and wastewater infrastructure to ensure clean and safe water.

The VSAT and WHEAT tools are available for download free of charge through EPA’s website

For more information about either tool, contact John DeGour at degour.john [at] or Curt Baranowski at baranowski.curt [at] of EPA.