Protecting Water Systems from Major Storm Events

September 20, 2018
Mike Delzingaro
Vice President & Director of Sales, Xylem

Sometimes the most powerful disaster planning and relief stories are the ones you don’t hear about — the disruptions and damage that do not occur, because of the robust planning and preparations done in anticipation of a major storm event.

The city of Ingleside, Texas, was significantly impacted by Hurricane Harvey last year. But municipal leaders had a strong contingency plan they’d put in place several years ago to protect their water systems — helping mitigate the impact of the massive storm.

Xylem, a global water technology leader, offers municipalities a contingency planning program to prepare for a major flooding event or loss of power. The company also provides industrial and refinery-based customers with this expertise. Xylem’s team of engineers and technicians work closely with municipalities and businesses to create a comprehensive strategy that identifies exactly what additional backup equipment is needed, from pumps, hosing, and accessories, to a forklift or crane onsite, and beyond. Xylem then gives customers the option to rent pumps and equipment throughout the hurricane season at a reduced rate to have on standby for when a storm hits.

Since the city of Ingleside had already gone through a rigorous disaster planning process with Xylem, the company had a detailed view of what the municipality needed to help prevent Ingleside’s water systems from being disrupted. An evaluation of the city’s infrastructure identified the number of lift stations, which pumps aligned with which lift stations, and how much hose was needed for each station. In the days prior to the storm, the city contacted Xylem and activated its contingency plan.

Xylem already had a staging area up and running in San Antonio, Texas, with extra rental pumps and equipment at the ready. After getting the call from Ingleside, the company mobilized seven pumps with hose and pipe and delivered them, enabling Ingleside’s water treatment and wastewater systems to get back up and running within a day and to keep running, despite the massive impact of the storm across the area, while others in the state were left for several days without water services.

Taking the time to put a comprehensive contingency plan in place helps protect critical municipal operations like water and wastewater systems, and in doing so helps ensure vital services to local communities. It’s also an important efficiency driver, since municipalities can avoid spending the extra time and money required to respond to a disaster event after the fact, when available resources and expertise can be much harder, if not impossible, to find close at hand.

Xylem has customers that purchase hurricane rental packages every year, from the beginning of the hurricane season straight through November. With a robust contingency plan in place, and the right equipment reserved and ready to be deployed, municipalities and businesses can take a critical step forward in building resilience, and help ensure that when the next major storm hits, they are well-prepared to protect and manage one resource that is so critical to the health and safety of their constituents: their water.