Volume 19 Issue 4, 2004

Key considerations for Lifeline utility recovery planning

David Brunsdon, Hans Brounts, Roger Crimp, Merv Lauder, Rachel Palmer, Ian Scott, Bruce Shephard

Peer-reviewed Article

Archived Article


The key process elements for lifeline utilities in the recovery process following a disaster event can be summarised as: 1. Understanding what needs to be done to recover each utility’s operation; 2. Understanding the external constraints on immediate operational repairs; 3. Putting in place interim low-capacity fixes; carrying out immediate tidy-up operations; 4. Strategic decisions—what to repair/rebuild/fully redevelop; 5. Matching internal priorities with external considerations (e.g., priorities of other utilities and the recovery manager on behalf of the community); 6. Formalising works programmes and carrying out design work; and 7. Organising and managing contracts for the physical works. Establishing and re-evaluating priorities (internal and external) is an iterative process that underlies all of these elements. This process begins at the operational level during the immediate response, with progressively more strategic decisions being required as more information becomes available. Each element has associated challenges or obstacles that need to be addressed and, in many cases, these relate to external considerations outside the direct influence of individual lifeline utilities. Recovery planning for lifeline utilities therefore requires prior consideration of these challenges and how to address them. The recovery process involves a balance between the restoration sequence that can be physically and operationally achieved by a lifeline utility against the expectations and requirements of the community as established by the recovery manager. Specific understanding of local and national Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) recovery mechanisms is clearly beneficial for utility managers in planning their recovery processes. This paper explores the issues for lifeline utilities associated with the recovery elements and challenges outlined above, and looks at the long term recovery issues.