8.2.1  Assemble a team of experts

In order to draw up a Water Safety Plan, full information about the water supply system, from the catchment to the taps of consumers, is required. This will include details of the catchment (such as possible sources of contamination), the abstraction point, the pipes (sizes, construction materials, etc.), the units at the treatment plant, the distribution system (piping material, possible weak spots, etc.). To compile this information, a team of experts is required.

The expert team (Figure 8.2) should include not just technical experts but local people because they will be most knowledgeable about what is actually on the ground. Local people may include farmers and forestry workers, landowners, and representatives from industry, other utilities and local government, and consumers. Collectively the team should have the skills required to identify hazards and determine how the associated risks can be controlled. The definitions of hazards and risks are given in Box 8.1, where the difference between them is explained.

The support of senior management is crucial for the formulation and implementation of a Water Safety Plan, because changes in working practices may be needed, as well as new systems (costing money) for the control of risks. The finance and time requirements for preparing the Water Safety Plan will need to be approved by senior management who are the supervisors and decision makers responsible for implementing any actions that may be required. Depending on the context, senior management could be the Town Water Board or the Woreda WASH Team, for example.

Figure 8.2  The team of experts should have a range of knowledge and skills.

Box 8.1  Hazards and risks

Identifying hazards and assessing risks are important aspects of preparing a Water Safety Plan. A hazard is something that is known to cause harm. Bartram et al. (2009) define a hazard as ‘a physical, biological, chemical or radiological agent that can cause harm to public health’. Risk is the likelihood or probability of the hazard occurring and the magnitude of the resulting effects.

Here is a simple example. If you climb a ladder, you know there is a chance you could fall off and be injured, although it is unlikely. The ladder is the hazard and the likelihood of your falling off and hurting yourself is the risk. Risk assessment is about evaluating a situation to determine how likely it is that the potential harm from the hazard will happen.

8.2  The components of a Water Safety Plan

8.2.2  Describe the water supply system