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AVEK PREPARES TO TARGET LOCAL HAZARDS

Because safety and health of the public and employees are always a priority to the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency, administrators and staff have embarked on a new venture aimed at developing the Agency’s first Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP).

AVEK pledges, with steadfast determination, to meet its mission “to deliver reliable, sustainable and high-quality supplemental water to the region in a cost-effective and efficient manner.” The LHMP, once in place, will facilitate that effort.

To work toward that end, AVEK seeks to contract a qualified consulting firm capable of assisting in developing the LHMP. AVEK released a Request For Proposals for qualified consultants on November 2, with a response deadline at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 20. 

On June 23, 2020, AVEK was awared  $125,000 in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds from FEMA to develop a FEMA approvedLHMP that meets the requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.

Impetus behind this project is to reduce and mitigate risks from disasters to people, property, the economy and environment of communities within AVEK’s service area. Development of a LHMP will increase the Agency's eligibility to receive additional grant funding that can be used to build resiliency. 

A comprehensive plan must include a thorough evaluation of local stakeholder's internal and external needs and concerns. One example of an internal concern would be workers forced to evacuate the building where they are employed because of safety issues and property damage. An example of an external concern could be the way that media portrays the staff's response to an evacuation mandate.

In the RFP, AVEK proposed eight tasks expected of the consultant, an in-depth approach with a timeframe beginning this December and a completion date of October 2022.

Tasks start with the development of a Planning Team that serves as a Steering Committee for the project. The consultant will work jointly with AVEK to appoint that team and also study the Agency’s service area boundaries to identify resources needed to support the planning process.

Next, the consultant will be expected to engage the public in the process, including stakeholders such as residents, government officials, community leaders and business owners. Public engagement activities include public hearings, meetings and workshops; the solicitation of input from citizens and professionals who are knowledgeable regarding local hazards; stakeholder input concerning the feasibility of possible mitigation measures; and a public review period for a final draft of the plan.

With that accomplished, the next task focuses on conducting a risk assessment of natural hazards in the area such as floods; wind-related incidents; historic fire information; and geologic events that proved hazardous. Additionally, consideration will be given to man-made hazards like chemical spills.

A vulnerability assessment will look at the types and numbers of buildings, infrastructure and critical facilities situated within identified hazard areas. Critical facilities described in the RFP include water treatment plants, pumping stations, and power generation sites as well as water transmission and delivery facilities.

The consultant is expected to develop a mitigation strategy that specifically addresses AVEK’s exposure to risk and the adverse impacts from natural hazards.

The right consulting firm will have experience working on similar projects and also indicate the services offered which distinguish that candidate from its competition. While the proposed cost will be a consideration, it is not the main factor in AVEK’s choice. Therefore, cost alone will not restrict AVEK from choosing a firm that charges more if better and more professional service will be provided.

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