Water Safety Plans:
An Online Distance Learning Program

Risk-Management for Drinking Water Supplies


Course Flyer

Spring 2019: March 11 – May 10

The Water Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) is offering a 9-week online learning course on Water Safety Plans (WSPs) aimed at those in the water industry with management, engineering, or operational responsibilities. WSPs represent a novel approach for drinking water suppliers to manage the risks of system failure, and have been recommended by the World Health Organization since 2004. WSPs have been piloted or required in more than 90 countries. This distance learning program offers:

  • Knowledge, skill, and capacity building to ensure consistent drinking water safety and access
  • Opportunity to apply course assignments to developing a WSP for your local context
  • Flexibility to engage with course content and fellow learners from home, work, or travel locations
  • Professional recognition of your enhanced expertise

Throughout the course, key content is presented through problem-solving scenarios and case study examples. A series of nine modules synthesizes cumulative up-to-date knowledge and illustrates experiences gained in real-world WSPs. Participants can work on their own schedule and interact with peers through a discussion forum. The course is overseen by facilitators who guide discussion and provide resources for further exploration of concepts. The average time commitment is about 3-4 hours per week to read materials and complete assignments.

Registration Information

Developed Country
or International Agency

Less Developed Country







* We define Less Developed/Developed countries according to the World Bank assessment, based upon the registrant’s current country of residence.

Overview of the Course

This course covers nine weeks of material. The topics for each week are:

BeforeComplete course introduction
Week 1Assemble the WSP Team; Understand the water supply system (modules 1 & 2)
Week 2Identify hazards and hazardous events and assess the risks (module 3)
Week 3Determine and validate control measures, reassess, and prioritize the risks (module 4)
Week 4Develop, implement, and maintain an improvement plan (module 5)
Week 5Define monitoring of the control measures (module 6)
Week 6Verify the effectiveness of the WSP (module 7)
Week 7Prepare management procedures (module 8)
Week 8Develop supporting programs (module 9)
Week 9Plan and carry out periodic review of the WSP; Revise the WSP following an incident (modules 10 & 11)
AfterComplete course evaluation

Professional Recognition

Upon completion of the 9-week course, participants will receive a certificate attesting to program completion and the acquisition of understanding needed to develop and implement a water safety plan for their utility. CEUs approval for this course is pending approval.  (Continuing Education Units).


Technical Requirements

  • An Internet Connection: The Water Safety Plans Distance Learning Program will be taught an online, and therefore all participants will need access to a working internet connection.
  • An Active Email Address: All course participants will need to provide an active email address to facilitate communication with the course instructor.
  • A Modern Internet Browser: The Water Safety Plan Course is taught using a web-based platform known as the Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment. No downloads or software installations are required to use Sakai, as Sakai is entirely web-based. The Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment is designed to work with modern browsers. You should be safe with the latest versions of Firefox (Mozilla), Safari (Apple), Chrome (Google), and with IE 9 (Microsoft Internet Explorer aka IE) and IE 8. Sakai CLE does not work with IE 7 and earlier nor with Firefox 10 and earlier.
  • A PDF Reader: Some course materials will be available via Adobe PDF. Participants will need to install a PDF reader, if they have not done so already, in order to view these materials offline. Adobe offers free PDF reader software download for PC, Mac, and Unix machines at the following site: http://get.adobe.com/reader/