This week on “Wonderful Water,” join Aaron Keck for a conversation with OWASA experts about the plans in place for emergency situations and what individual citizens can do while they wait for bad weather and other issues to blow over. You can listen to the full interview below, and check back monthly for more conversations about water in our community.

Aaron Keck, Tiffanie Hawley and Tyrus Johnson

According to Tiffanie Hawley, water treatment plant operations supervisor for OWASA, there are no shortage of safeguards and emergency plans in place for a variety of emergency situations. In particular, hurricane season in North Carolina means a heightened level of preparedness on OWASA’s part — two diesel generators are standing by in case of power failure, equipment is stress-tested, treatment chemicals are topped off, and more. One of the largest parts of emergency preparation, however, is cooperation.

“There’s an organization that we belong to called ‘NC Water WARN‘ … a mutual aid organization between municipalities in North Carolina,” said Hawley. “We never know what system might be in a scenario that they are in need of help, so being able to reach out to our neighbors and get that help is a fantastic thing.”

Emergency preparedness isn’t entirely up to organizations like OWASA and NC Water Warn, however. Individuals can — and should — take an active role in ensuring their safety and health during the worst of times. This is the area where Tyrus Johnson, OWASA safety and risk manager, specializes.

“Individually, definitely for your water storage, you want to be proactive in storing bottled water during the hurricane season between June 1 and November 30,” said Johnson. “Once we get to the hurricane warning stage, we want to make sure we fill up the bathtubs. Anything that you can do to conserve more water, to keep more water in case you need it, depending on if the power goes out, how long the water systems are going to be down, so on and so forth.”

Another important public utility to consider, according to Johnson, is the OC Alerts system.

“[There are] different avenues there to stay up to date on what the water situation is,” said Johnson. “We also have a Twitter feed and Nextdoor as far as social media sites where you could get in contact with us and find out there. But the main thing that I would encourage everyone to do is to go to our website to apply and sign up for OC Alerts. OC Alerts gets that message out immediately as far as the emergency situations concerning water.”



Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents use roughly 7 million gallons of water a day, and “Wonderful Water” is a monthly conversation sponsored by the Orange Water and Sewer Authority highlighting its work to keep our community growing and water flowing.