Last week, the US Department of Homeland Security reported that there is a chlorine shortage in California which may affect water/wastewater operations. The root cause was an electrical failure at Westlake Chemical, a manufacturing facility in Longview, Washington, in mid-June caused a chlorine supply disruption to water and wastewater facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of California. The Oregon Department of Emergency Management is reporting that the Longview plant is offline until the end of June and that Westlake Chemical is actively evaluating its options to bring this plant back online and help supply chlorine through the market. CA-NV AWWA, CWEA, CAlWARN, CASA, ACWA, and California State Water Board Office of Emergency Services staff have been coordinating efforts, and offer the following:
- Timing of Shortage: While it is hoped the manufacturer will resume production sooner than expected, it could take up to 20 days for supplies to return to normal levels. CA-NV AWWA, CWEA, CAlWARN, CASA, ACWA, and California State Water Board Office of Emergency Services staff encourage water and wastewater plants to actively monitor the situation and take appropriate precautionary measures.
- Scale of the Issue: Over 75 water and wastewater systems responded to the voluntary California Chlorine and Chemicals Supply Survey between June 19 and 21, 2021. Information received indicates that most responding systems have sufficient supply, either on hand or via confirmed deliveries, through early July. We are also receiving reports through various channels that systems are receiving short deliveries and/or late deliveries. To adjust to these shortages, some systems have reduced their chlorine residuals and others have reduced production to reduce disinfectant consumption.
- Certification of Need: Section 1441 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (pg. 75 of the Act) sets the legal means for a water utility to have a supplier/manufacturer provide that utility with a product that is in short supply; it prioritizes critical utilities over other less essential items. The entire process for an order to be issued to a producer/manufacturer can take up to 2-4 weeks. Depending on the location of the supplier, delivery time and repackaging also needs may also impact processing time.
- Available Resources: Systems that are experiencing chemical supply challenges are encouraged to work through normal mutual aid/assistance channels and engage their local emergency management agency at the City or County level, as appropriate, in accordance with SEMS procedures. Regional water board staff and district engineers are also available to assist. The following EPA website and resource links provide specific avenues for relief that water and wastewater systems can pursue if they experience supply chain disruptions which may result in an impending shortfall of critical materials. Remember, CalWARN is always here to assist you.