Local MUD operating companies maintain disaster preparedness certification with county

16 01 2012

Each year, Fort Bend County OEM works closely with local municipal utility districts to ensure that adequate preparations are taken to get ready for the hurricane season and also for other disasters that are not related to hurricanes.  Below, please see the text from a recent article published by the Fort Bend Star recognizing the efforts of local operating companies who have maintained their preparedness levels during 2011.  In fact, most of these entities have been part of the County’s MUD Readiness Program since its initiation in 2009.  The article was published on December 21, 2011.  And, believe it or not, in just a few short weeks, it will be time for the 2012 Program to kickoff!

County Judge Bob Hebert in conjunction with the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management would like to recognize Municipal District Services, Severn Trent, SouthWest Water Company, Environmental Development Partners and Fort Bend County Municipal Utility District No.25 for participating in a voluntary National Incident Management System (NIMS) Program that he initiated in 2009.  In 2011, each company completed the requirements of the program and are hereby recognized as “NIMS Competent First Responders.”

Those recognized have earned the distinction by taking actions to become an integral part of the County’s emergency management network. The program involves a series of actions to be taken to make these operating companies more prepared for Hurricane Season, improve communications with emergency management staff at the County level, and truly begin to make the County’s water districts responsible for emergency management activities. County Judge Bob Hebert stated, “The program is based on assuring that participating operating companies are fully informed on the workings of the National Incident Management System and the role of the county in supporting all first responders during a declared emergency. The idea is to ensure improved communications between emergency management personnel and utility operators and to include utility district representation in the County EOC in all future activities.”

The conditions of the program included having employees from each utility operating company complete four NIMS on-line training courses (100, 200, 700 and 800).  Additionally, multiple employees have attended training sessions at the Fort Bend County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). During these sessions, attendees learned key definitions, the difference between crisis management and consequence management, the emergency response realities for municipal utility districts, the purpose and objectives of the County EOC, and the framework for the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan.

Jeff Braun, the County’s Emergency Management Coordinator, notes that “OEM staff is committed to expanding the readiness program and he is hopeful that additional companies will take advantage of the training offered in the voluntary program.”  Overall, the program is intended to ensure a more coordinated and effective response to water emergencies that may occur in the future in Fort Bend County.





First Colony MUD No. 9 Initiates Stage 2 Water Restrictions

17 08 2011

The other day I noted that Fort Bend County MUD 81 implemented Stage 1 water restrictions for its customers.  Yesterday, First Colony MUD No. 9 initiated Stage 2 of the District’s Drought Contingency Plan.  This was only done after the District had sent out voluntary water use notices in its water bills in May of this year, and again earlier this month.  As stated in the letter received by customers and residents of the District’s water system:

Water Use Restrictions for Demand Reduction.  Under threat of penalty for violation, the following water use restrictions shall apply to all persons:

  • Irrigation of landscape areas with hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems shall be limited to Sundays and Thursdays for customers with a street address ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6 or 8), and Saturdays and Wednesdays for water customers with a street address ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7 or 9), and hose sprinkler/automatic irrigation of landscaped areas is further limited to the hours of 12:00 midnight until 10:00 a.m. and between 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight on designated watering days.   However, irrigation of landscaped areas is permitted at any time if it is by means of a hand-held hose, a faucet filled bucket or watering can of five (5) gallons or less, or drip irrigation system.
  •  Use of water to wash any motor vehicle, motorbike, boat, trailer, airplane or other vehicle except on designated watering days between 12:00 midnight until 10:00 a.m. and between 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight.  Such washing, when allowed, shall be done with a hand-held bucket or a hand-held hose equipped with a positive shutoff nozzle for quick rinses.  Vehicle washing may be done at any time on the immediate premises of a commercial car wash or commercial service station.  Further, such washing may be exempted from these regulations if the health, safety, and welfare of the public is contingent upon frequent vehicle cleansing, such as garbage trucks and vehicles used to transport food and perishables.
  • Use of water to fill, refill, or add to any indoor or outdoor swimming pools, wading pools, or Jacuzzi-type pools is prohibited except on designated watering days between the hours of 12:00 midnight until 10:00 a.m. and between 8:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight.
  • Operation of any ornamental fountain or pond for aesthetic or scenic purposes is prohibited except where necessary to support aquatic life or where such fountains or ponds are equipped with a recirculation system.
  • Use of water from hydrants shall be limited to fire fighting, related activities, or other activities necessary to maintain public health, safety, and welfare, except that use of water from designated fire hydrants for construction purposes may be allowed under special permit from the District.
  • All restaurants are prohibited from serving water to patrons except upon request of the patron.

 The following uses of water are deemed as non-essential and are prohibited:

  1. Wash down of any sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts, or other hard-surfaced areas;
  2. Use of water to wash down buildings or structures for purposes other than immediate fire protection;
  3. Use of water for dust control;
  4. Flushing gutters or permitting water to run or accumulate is any gutter or street; and
  5. Failure to repair a controllable leak(s) within a reasonable period after having been given notice directing the repair of such leak(s).




Fort Bend County MUD 81: Mild Drought Conditions in Effect; drought response measures being implemented

11 08 2011

As the drought across the State of Texas continues, there is a growing necessity to conserve water.  Fort Bend County MUD 81 (City of Weston Lakes) has announced today that they are implementing the first stage of its drought contingency plan.  At this point, customers in the municipal utility district boundaries are asked to voluntarily reduct water use, except the following activities shall be mandatory and not voluntary:

  • All outdoor water usage, including, but not limited to, lawn and garden watering, car washing, and window washing, shall be limited as follows:  1)  Only users with even-numbered addresses may use water outdoors on even-numbered days and only users with odd numbered addresses may use water outdoors on odd-numbered days.  In the event no street address exists, only users living on the north and west side of a street may use water outdoors on even-numbered days, and only users on the and east side of a street may use water outdoors on odd-numbered days, and 2) Outdoor water use shall be prohibited between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., and between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. (midnight).




2011 Texas Legislative Session – March 13th

13 03 2011

Below you will find a listing of  Emergency Management related bills as of March 13, 2011.    Information about 53  bills is noted below.

The 82nd Texas Legislature will be in session 140 days.  The first day of the session was Tuesday, January 11, 2011 and the last day of the session is Monday, May 30, 2011.  The last day to file regular bills was Friday, March 11, 2011.  Governor Perry has until June 19th to review bills passed by the State Legislature.  He can sign a bill to authorize new law, or he can let a bill become law without signing, or he can veto a bill.

HB 1  – (Pitts) Relating to General Appropriations.  Among other things, this bill would reduce expenditures for 9-1-1 Network by 27%; reduce by 48% disaster funding to state and local agencies when the Governor finds the demands on funds regularly appropriated are insufficient to respond to a particular disaster; reduce by Criminal Justice grants by 55%, impacting the number of grants awarded from an estimated 900 in FY 2011 to approximately 520 each fiscal year of the 2012-13 biennium; and eliminate funding for the Flood Control Dam Grant Program which provides operations and maintenance, structural repair, and rehabilitation needs to flood control dams across the State.

HB 614   –  (Hopson)  Relating to allowing health care providers to provide services across state lines in catastrophic circumstances.

HB 803 – (Bonnen) Relating to the penalty for failure to make a timely installment payment of ad valorem taxes on property in a disaster area.  SB 432 is identical.

HB 805 – (Callegari) Relating the requirement that certain water service providers ensure emergency operations during an extended power outage.

HB 837 – (Taylor, Van) Relating to the authority of peace officers to request thumbprints during motor vehicle stops.

HB 993 – (Rodriguez, E.)  Relating to the closure of a road or highway by certain firefighters.

HB 1030 – (Miller) Relating to the powers and duties of certain emergency services districts.

HB 1075 – (Anderson) Relating to the consolidation of certain alert system into a single statewide alert system and to the addition of other factors that will prompt an alert under the consolidated system.

HB 1092 – (Christian)  Relating to the exemption from certain construction requirements for volunteer fire departments in certain counties.

HB 1125 – (Burnam)  Relating to a study regarding the odorization of natural gas transported in gathering and transmission lines located in populated areas.

HB 1147 – (Smith) Relating to notice by a governmental entity regarding certain geospatial data products.  SB 442 is identical.

HB 1174 – (Workman) Relating to the expiration of a county burn ban.

HB 1217 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty.

HB 1319 – (Laubenberg) Relating to the calculation and reporting of water usage and conservation by municipalities and water utilities.

HB 1354 – (Davis, S.)  Relating to liability of certain certified municipal inspector for services rendered during an emergency or disaster.

HB 1379 – (Anchia)  Relating to the purchasing of a firearm from the county by an honorably retired law enforcement officer.

HB 1476  –  (Riddle)  Relating to the grounds for revocation of an emergency medical services personnel certification.

HB 1561  –  (Orr)  Relating to the authority of a municipality to implement a photographic traffic signal enforcement system and impose civil penalties.

HB 1619 – (Orr)  Relating to emergency services districts.

HB 1711 – (Davis, John)  Relating to disaster remediation contracts; providing penalties.

HB 1750 – (Darby)  Relating to the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to lease and contract for the operation of rolling stock during certain emergencies.

HB 1765 – (Miller, Sid)  Relating to an emergency public service messaging network.  Identical to SB 971

HB 1791 – (Kleinschmidt)  Relating to emergency services districts.

HB 1861 – (Anchia)  Relating to the continuation and functions of the Commission on State Emergency Communications.  Identical to SB 648.

HB 1878 – (Miller, Doug)  Relating to emergency service districts.  Identical to SB 917.

HB 1911 – (Bonnen)  Relating to the liability of certain persons for damages arising from training exercises to prepare the persons to respond to certain emergencies.  Brazoria County emergency management officials worked to get this legislation proposed for consideration.

HB 1917 – (Schwertner)  Relating to the removal of appointed emergency services commissioners by a commissioners court.

HB 1986 – (Turner)  Relating to the authority of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to ensure the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has adequate reserve power to prevent blackout conditions.

HB 2035 – (Hamilton)  Relating to the temporary relocation of alcoholic beverage distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises during a period of emergency and delivery of alcoholic beverages to a distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises.

HB 2040 – (Hamilton)  Relating to critical incident stress management and crisis response services.

HB 2075 – (Martinez, Mando)  Relating to certain diseases or illnesses suffered by firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

HB 2099 – (Truitt)  Relating to an alert for a missing person with an intellectual disability.

HB 2158 – (Coleman)  Relating to a prohibition against the use of a stun gun or taser by school district peace officers, security personnel, and other employees against certain public school students.  Identical to SB 1239.

HB 2239 – (Coleman)  Relating to the minimum number of county jailers necessary to staff a county jail.

HB 2257 – (Phillips)  Relating to communications during a disaster or an emergency by public service providers.  Identical to SB 1238.

HB 2369 – (Quintanilla et al)  Relating to the accreditation of training programs and examinations for certain emergency medical services personnel.

HB 2390 – (Davis, Sarah)  Relating to the types of information relating to emergency responses that are confidential.

HB 2411 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent under certain circumstances following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty.

HB 2462 – (Bonnen)  Relating to motor vehicles used for fire, emergency or disaster response purposes.

HB 2858 – (Gallego)  Relating to the definition of emergency services personnel for purposes of the enhanced penalty prescribed for an assault committed against a person providing services in that capacity.

HB 2979 – (Hunter)  Relating to county authority to provide certain exemptions to restrictions on outdoor burning.

HB 3060 – (Smithee)  Relating to arbitration of certain claims under residential property insurance policies.

HB 3219 – (Thompson)  Relating to intelligence data standards and protected personal information.

SB 9 – Relating to Homeland Security.  The content of this proposed legislation relates to verification of immigration status of person charged with committing offense.

SB 106 – (Davis, Wendy)  Relating to condemnation of municipal property for, and municipal regulation of, pipeline operations.

SB 319 – (Carona)  Relating to financing programs for low-income electric customers and certain other electric customers.

SB 389 – (Williams)  Relating to emergency preparedness during an extended power outage of a water service provider with at lease 250 connections.

SB 418   –   (Williams)  Relating to the carrying of concealed handguns by certain persons attending a school board meeting.

SB 617  –  (Rodriguez)  Relating a manifest system to record the transportation of certain liquid wastes.

SB 917 – (Wentworth)  Relating to emergency service districts.

SB 969 – (Nelson)  Relating to the establishment of the Public Health Funding and Policy Advisory Committee with the Department of State Health Services.

SB 1205 – (Jackson)  Relating to the application of the limit on appraised value of a residence homestead for ad valorem tax purposes to an improvement that is a replacement structure for a structure that was rendered uninhabitable or unusable by a casualty or by wind or water damage.

SB 1206 – (Deuell)  Relating to medical care and health care services provided by a health care professional in a licensed freestanding emergency medical care facility.

SB 1461 – (Lucio)  Relating to the creation of the disaster reconstruction coordination office withing the governor’s office; creating the disaster contingency account.

For a PDF listing:  billreport 3-13-11

The PDF lists the bills, and includes information on the status of each bill.  At this point, many of the bills have been assigned to committees for review.  Public hearings have been called to hear testimony on some bills.

If you know of other bills that I may have missed, please leave me a comment and let me know!  Thanks to those of you who have contacted me and made suggestions.

Also, please consider subscribing to this blog to receive the legislative information directly.





2011 Texas Legislative Session – March 5th

5 03 2011

Below you will find a listing of  Emergency Management related bills as of March 5, 2011.    Information about 42 bills is shown below.

The 82nd Texas Legislature will be in session 140 days.  The first day of the session was Tuesday, January 11, 2011 and the last day of the session is Monday, May 30, 2011.  The last day to file regular bills be Friday, March 11, 2011.  Governor Perry has until June 19th to review bills passed by the State Legislature.  He can sign a bill to authorize new law, or he can let a bill become law without signing, or he can veto a bill.

HB 1  – (Pitts) Relating to General Appropriations.  Among other things, this bill would reduce expenditures for 9-1-1 Network by 27%; reduce by 48% disaster funding to state and local agencies when the Governor finds the demands on funds regularly appropriated are insufficient to respond to a particular disaster; reduce by Criminal Justice grants by 55%, impacting the number of grants awarded from an estimated 900 in FY 2011 to approximately 520 each fiscal year of the 2012-13 biennium; and eliminate funding for the Flood Control Dam Grant Program which provides operations and maintenance, structural repair, and rehabilitation needs to flood control dams across the State.

HB 614   –  (Hopson)  Relating to allowing health care providers to provide services across state lines in catastrophic circumstances

HB 803 – (Bonnen) Relating to the penalty for failure to make a timely installment payment of ad valorem taxes on property in a disaster area.  SB 432 is identical

HB 805 – (Callegari) Relating the requirement that certain water service providers ensure emergency operations during an extended power outage

HB 837 – (Taylor, Van) Relating to the authority of peace officers to request thumbprints during motor vehicle stops

HB 993 – (Rodriguez, E.)  Relating to the closure of a road or highway by certain firefighters

HB 1030 – (Miller) Relating to the powers and duties of certain emergency services districts

HB 1075 – (Anderson) Relating to the consolidation of certain alert system into a single statewide alert system and to the addition of other factors that will prompt an alert under the consolidated system

HB 1092 – (Christian)  Relating to the exemption from certain construction requirements for volunteer fire departments in certain counties

HB 1125 – (Burnam)  Relating to a study regarding the odorization of natural gas transported in gathering and transmission lines located in populated areas

HB 1147 – (Smith) Relating to notice by a governmental entity regarding certain geospatial data products.  SB 442 is identical

HB 1174 – (Workman) Relating to the expiration of a county burn ban

HB 1217 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty

HB 1319 – (Laubenberg) Relating to the calculation and reporting of water usage and conservation by municipalities and water utilities

HB 1354 – (Davis, S.)  Relating to liability of certain certified municipal inspector for services rendered during an emergency or disaster

HB 1379 – (Anchia)  Relating to the purchasing of a firearm from the county by an honorably retired law enforcement officer

HB 1476  –  (Riddle)  Relating to the grounds for revocation of an emergency medical services personnel certification

HB 1561  –  (Orr)  Relating to the authority of a municipality to implement a photographic traffic signal enforcement system and impose civil penalties

HB 1619 – (Orr)  Relating to emergency services districts

HB 1711 – (Davis, John)  Relating to disaster remediation contracts; providing penalties

HB 1750 – (Darby)  Relating to the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to lease and contract for the operation of rolling stock during certain emergencies

HB 1765 – (Miller, Sid)  Relating to an emergency public service messaging network.  Identical to SB 971

HB 1791 – (Kleinschmidt)  Relating to emergency services districts

HB 1861 – (Anchia)  Relating to the continuation and functions of the Commission on State Emergency Communications

HB 1878 – (Miller, Doug)  Relating to emergency service districts.  Identical to SB 917

HB 1911 – (Bonnen)  Relating to the liability of certain persons for damages arising from training exercises to prepare the persons to respond to certain emergencies.  Brazoria County emergency management officials worked to get this legislation proposed for consideration.

HB 1917 – (Schwertner)  Relating to the removal of appointed emergency services commissioners by a commissioners court

HB 1986 – (Turner)  Relating to the authority of the Public Utility Commission of Texas to ensure the Electric Reliability Council of Texas has adequate reserve power to prevent blackout conditions

HB 2035 – (Hamilton)  Relating to the temporary relocation of alcoholic beverage distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises during a period of emergency and delivery of alcoholic beverages to a distributor’s or wholesaler’s premises.

HB 2040 – (Hamilton)  Relating to critical incident stress management and crisis response services.

HB 2075 – (Martinez, Mando)  Relating to certain diseases or illnesses suffered by firefighters and emergency medical technicians

HB 2099 – (Truitt)  Relating to an alert for a missing person with an intellectual disability.

HB 2158 – (Coleman)  Relating to a prohibition against the use of a stun gun or taser by school district peace officers, security personnel, and other employees against certain public school students.

HB 2239 – (Coleman)  Relating to the minimum number of county jailers necessary to staff a county jail.

HB 2257 – (Phillips)  Relating to communications during a disaster or an emergency by public service providers.

SB 9 – Relating to Homeland Security.  The content of this proposed legislation relates to verification of immigration status of person charged with committing offense.

SB 106 – (Davis, Wendy)  Relating to condemnation of municipal property for, and municipal regulation of, pipeline operations.

SB 319 – (Carona)  Relating to financing programs for low-income electric customers and certain other electric customers.

SB 389 – (Williams)  Relating to emergency preparedness during an extended power outage of a water service provider with at lease 250 connections

SB 418   –   (Williams)  Relating to the carrying of concealed handguns by certain persons attending a school board meeting

SB 617  –  (Rodriguez)  Relating a manifest system to record the transportation of certain liquid wastes

SB 917 – (Wentworth)  Relating to emergency service districts

SB 969 – (Nelson)  Relating to the establishment of the Public Health Funding and Policy Advisory Committee with the Department of State Health Services

For a PDF listing:  billreport 3-05-11 

The PDF lists the bills, and includes information on the status of each bill.  At this point, many of the bills have been assigned to committees for review.  Public hearings have been called to hear testimony on some bills.

If you know of other bills that I may have missed, please leave me a comment and let me know!  Thanks to those of you who have contacted me and made suggestions.

Also, please consider subscribing to this blog to receive the legislative information directly.





2011 Texas Legislative Session – February 17th

17 02 2011

Lots of activity in Austin; I have included some newly filed bills below.  Below you will find a listing of Emergency Management related bills as of February 17, 2011:

HB 614   –  (Hopson)  Relating to allowing health care providers to provide services across state lines in catastrophic circumstances

HB 805 – (Callegari) Relating the requirement that certain water service providers ensure emergency operations during an extended power outage

HB 993 – (Rodriguez, E.)  Relating to the closure of a road or highway by certain firefighters

HB 1030 – (Miller) Relating to the powers and duties of certain emergency services districts

HB 1075 – (Anderson) Relating to the consolidation of certain alert system into a single statewide alert system and to the addition of other factors that will prompt an alert under the consolidated system

HB 1092 – (Christian) Relating to the exemption from certain construction requirements for volunteer fire departments in certain counties

HB 1147 – (Smith) Relating to notice by a governmental entity regarding certain geospatial data products

HB 1174 – (Workman) Relating to the expiration of a county burn ban

HB 1217 – (Miles)  Relating to a residential tenant’s right to vacate a dwelling and avoid liability for rent following the declaration of a state of disaster; providing a civil penalty

HB 1319 – (Laubenberg) Relating to the calculation and reporting of water usage and conservation by municipalities and water utilities

HB 1354 – (Davis, S.)  Relating to liability of certain certified municipal inspector for services rendered during an emergency or disaster

SB 389 – (Williams) Relating to emergency preparedness during an extended power outage of a water service provider with at lease 250 connections

SB 418   –   (Williams)  Relating to the carrying of concealed handguns by certain persons attending a school board meeting

SB 432   –   (Jackson)  Relating to the penalty for failure to make a timely installment payment of ad valorem taxes on property in a disaster area

SB 617 – (Rodriguez) Relating a manifest system to record the transportation of certain liquid wastes

For a PDF listing the above bills:   billreport 2-17-11

If you know of other bills that I may have missed, please leave me a comment and let me know!  Thanks to those of you who have contacted me and made suggestions.

Also, please consider subscribing to this blog to receive the legislative information directly.





County Municipal Utility Districts Get Ready for 2009 Hurricane Season – Part II

3 08 2009

In my last blog entry, I explained the need for Fort Bend County to improve communications between its EOC and the municipal utility districts located in the County.  This need was identified during After Action Reviews conducted following Hurricane Ike.  Some of the significant steps and actions taken are highlighted below.

Responder Status:  In the first meeting with MUD representatives and operators, it was made clear that in an emergency involving water and wastewater, water district personnel and contractors are first responders.  To some this was a new concept, they thought first responders were only fire, police and EMS.  At this first meeting, districts began to understand that they are responsible for water and sewer services before, during, and after the storm—- that is their charge as a water district and why they are a political subdivision of the State of Texas.  Basically, utility districts must step up to the plate.  The County Judge and Emergency Management Coordinator held meetings to discuss the concerns raised during Ike; and in December 2008, the Judge sent a letter to the districts and operators outlining the program that was being developed.

District Contacts:  During Hurricane Ike, it was sometimes difficult for EOC staff to locate the appropriate district personnel when problems occurred.  To remedy this situation, each district in the Program must complete an application form and provide the County EOC with a minimum of three designated District Contacts, with complete contact information, so we have the ability to communicate with knowledgeable district personnel during a crisis.  Some districts and operators have provided more than three.  The development of this network is very important.  Though a seemingly easy thing to do, it is very important— Judge Hebert notes “it is imperative.  We have to bring our utility districts into our management system so we can help them.” 

NIMS Training:   As the districts began to understand that they were responders; it was then necessary to make sure that they learned how to participate as part of the County’s emergency management team.  As Judge Hebert noted at the AWBD State Conference, “in order to communicate and that things move smoothly in Fort Bend County, we need you to understand and to comply with the National Incident Management System (NIMS), because everything we do functions under NIMS.  It is not classified; information is on the web.”  In this first year, the condition was that three employees from each operating company or each individual district complete four NIMS on-line training courses (100, 200, 700 and 800).  Between December 2008 and April 2009, districts had their key employees complete the on-line training.

County Emergency Operations 101:  Another requirement is for each district to send employees to a 2 ½ training session at the Fort Bend County EOC.  During this session, attendees learn key definitions; the difference between crisis management and consequence management; the emergency response realities for municipal utility districts; the purpose and objectives of the County EOC; and the framework for State of Texas Emergency Management.  A discussion on resource management, including pre-positioned contracts and the process for requesting resources is also provided in summary form.  Finally, the attendees are given a checklist of emergency preparation questions to use to assess their own operations.  Three sessions were conducted, two in April 2009 and one in June 2009.  This training provided the districts with on-site training with EOC staff; they got to learn how we work.  The briefing was well-received by the participants.  Ken Love of Municipal District Services LLC wrote to EOC with “thanks for the tour of the EOC; it was well done and informative.”

Application for MUD Readiness Program:   Though this sounds like merely an administrative matter, it is a critical component of the voluntary program.  It is critical because it provides valuable information that the County does not usually have access to or is very difficult to find on-line.  The application provides information about the firm or district; authorized contacts; a listing of the service areas covered (with an operating firm, this would be multiple districts); and hard copies of the required completion certificates for each on-line FEMA course completed by key contacts.  The submittal of the application provides an opportunity for enhanced discussion between the entity and the County EOC.  In future years, it is hoped that additional information will be shared, such as listings of key infrastructure; GIS maps; plans; and other items that will facilitate better response during an emergency situation.

Annual Preparation Meeting:  Another requirement is for district key personnel to attend an Annual Hurricane Preparation Meeting.  This year the meeting was held in July; however, in the future, it is hoped to that this meeting will be held in late May or early June.  This is a two hour meeting that is kicked off by the County Judge; followed by a presentation by a National Weather Service representative who discusses the upcoming hurricane season; followed by discussion about communications and interoperability issues (specifics about how districts will communicate with the EOC during a crisis); followed by specific information about the 213 RR resource request process and an overview of WebEOC crisis information system software.  County Judge Hebert notes that “we have the annual meeting at the County EOC to review utility district preparedness; the goal being to integrated utility districts into the overall County emergency management process.”

District Representation in the EOC:  The key action being taken to ensure improved communication between emergency management personnel and utility district operators is to include utility district representation in the County EOC.  Judge Hebert made his wishes clearly known after Hurricane Ike:  “Effective with the 2009 Hurricane Season, there will be a desk in the Fort Bend County EOC dedicated to water utilities.”  County EOC staff is working with the districts and operators to select individuals who will work the Utilities Desk during activations.  This desk will be strategically located next to the County’s Road & Bridge desk and will be staffed by individuals knowledgeable with the tasks that they have to carry out.  The selected individuals will know how to “talk the language of water and wastewater,” and the EOC will benefit by having a continuous liaison with the utility districts especially if we have a storm making landfall.  Certain changes are being made to the Fort Bend County EOC to accommodate the addition of this new Utilities Desk.

As noted above, Fort Bend County has significantly addressed a “lesson learned” from Hurricane Ike.  In quick decisive fashion, County Judge Hebert, and the staff of the Office of Emergency Management, settled on a solution to address the identified gap.  Diligent work over about an eight month period has resulted in the development of a Municipal Utility District Readiness program which will ensure a more coordinated and effective response to water district emergencies in Fort Bend County. 

At this time, three water district operating companies have been recognized at the Commissioners Court.  Those firms include Southwest Water, MDS, and Severn Trent.  Another operating company hopes to complete the requirements of the voluntary program in August.    Approximately 60% of the County’s utility districts are now covered by a NIMS Compliant First Responder.