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Water: Fed FUNDS

Set Up a System to Document Damage and Costs

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Document Pre-Disaster Conditions of your Utility

Before the disaster, document the existing condition of your utility so you can demonstrate damage incurred and the need for post-disaster repair. Take photographs and keep work orders and maintenance records (e.g., GIS maps of pipeline inspections) to demonstrate the current state of your facility and distribution system. Document existing insurance policies and emergency procurement procedures. EPA has developed a document titled Reimbursement Tips for Water Sector Emergency Response and Recovery (PDF) that presents tips that drinking water and wastewater utilities can use before and after an incident to maximize their ability to receive cost reimbursement.

Document the Damage

Develop a system to document the damage, costs, and repairs to your utility. Thorough and well-organized documentation is necessary to prepare a reliable and technically sound application for disaster-related funding. The documentation should cover how the damage occurred, how repair and/or replacement was conducted, and how much it cost to complete the repair/replacement project. Even before you conduct repair work, document the damage. Include both visual documentation (photographs) as well as written descriptions. The simplest method is to have field crews who are assessing damage and/or performing emergency repairs to complete damage forms and take photographs while they are doing their work and collecting this information at the end of each shift. Field personnel can note what is documented in the photographs taken and cross reference them to damage assessment forms. Damage assessment forms can be cataloged by address, GPS location, facility, or any other method that meets the utility needs. The "Currently in a Disaster?" Web pages in Fed FUNDS contains sample photo logs, damage assessment forms, and other materials that might be useful in developing a damage documentation system.

Maintain thorough records and practice strict accounting to track costs of repair work

For projects to be eligible, you should maintain detailed documentation to ensure maximum reimbursement. Examples of recordkeeping include:

  • Establish accounting codes to track work related to the disaster
  • Keep detailed documentation of damage assessments to your utility
  • Follow accounting procedures to track invoices, receipts, and expenses, and
  • Follow procedures to track work performed (including vendors' work); equipment usage; personnel time; and vehicle gas usage and mileage.

When implementing your recordkeeping and accounting procedures, make sure the data you collect is consistent with the requirements of federal disaster forms from the appropriate federal agency.

Example: East Valley Water District
East Valley Water District

East Valley Water District (EVWD) in California obtained more than $400,000 for costs associated with the Old Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest. EVWD recognized that it could have completed the application process more efficiently if the output from its financial system was in a format similar to a FEMA Public Assistance Grant form.

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