Water safety plans: bridges and barriers to implementation in North Carolina

Water safety plans (WSPs) are a preventive risk assessment approach used in many countries for managing drinking water hazards from catchment to consumer. Despite documented benefits, they have not been used in the United States. We interviewed water utility leaders in North Carolina to determine their willingness and ability to implement WSPs. We found that water utilities have a reactive rather than preventive organizational culture, and barriers to implementing WSPs were insufficient staff time, perceived duplication of existing practices, and no examples in North Carolina or the US. Lack of preventive risk assessment approaches such as WSPs in the US have resulted in incidents such as the exposure of over 100,000 people in Flint, Michigan to lead in water, and water service disruptions in Charleston, West Virginia due to the Elk River chemical spill.

Water safety plans: bridges and barriers to implementation in North Carolina. Urooj Q. Amjad, Jeanne Luh, Rachel Baum, and Jamie Bartram. 2016. Journal of Water and Health 14(5): 816-826. doi:10.2166/wh.2016.011.