We recently had a Boil Water Advisory that affected a significant number of homes and businesses over a large portion of Cobb County. Once it was announced, several food service establishment owners and operators began inquiring as to how long it would take the Center for Environmental Health to review their proposed emergency water supply plan so they could keep stay open for business. Unfortunately, by the time we were contacted, it was already too late for a review.
The Rules and Regulations for Food Service allow for a food service establishment to operate for up to two hours after a water service interruption; however, to continue operating beyond that limit, the food service establishment must have a pre-approved emergency water supply plan in place prior to the water interruption event. As you can probably guess, planning for a water service interruption during the actual interruption will not help you stay open beyond that initial two hours, but careful planning now can help position you to effectively deal with your next emergency event.
If you would like to develop your own Emergency Operations Plan (EOP), a great place to start is the Emergency Action Plan guide produced by the Conference for Food Protection. This excellent resource can be used to develop a plan to cover water service interruptions, sewage backups, fires, floods, and power outages. Once you’ve developed your own plan, submit it to your local Environmental Health office for review and approval.
Cobb & Douglas Public Health encourages food service owners and operators to start developing their EOPs today. In the event of an actual emergency, an approved EOP can not only help you operate safely, but can reduce down time and save a facility money in the long run.