Water Security Update

U.S., Israel Announce Partnership

EPA and the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures signed an agreement July 19 to work together to improve water supply system security in the United States and Israel. Joint projects could include work on contamination warning systems, conducting field testing of sensor technologies, water supply risk assessment and management, and emergency response.

"Safeguarding our water supply is vital both for the well-being of our citizens and the preservation of our environment," said Judith E. Ayres, assistant administrator for International Affairs. "The statement of intent we have signed will foster greater collaboration between our nations to help protect this precious resource from unintentional or intentional contamination."

The Ministry of National Infrastructures has responsibility for land, water, and energy infrastructure development and administration in Israel. The ministry also sponsors extensive research into energy resources and water desalination. EPA and the Israeli government have enjoyed a strong working relationship on environmental protection since 1991. Both nations are members of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles and the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue initiative.

EPA also collaborates with other Middle Eastern countries on environmental projects, such as the Middle East Partnership Initiative, that includes Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. This partnership involves training on environmental laws and enforcement, conducting environmental impact assessments, and pollution prevention.

More information on EPA's international environmental efforts is available at http://www.epa.gov/international. To learn more about EPA's water security initiatives, visit http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/index.cfm.

Drinking Water Major Topic At Conference

On July 11, InfraGard National Members Alliance and Nova Biologicals Inc. announced the topic of drinking water security will have a dedicated track at the upcoming InfraGard 2005 National Conference. The conference, sponsored by the InfraGard National Members Alliance and the FBI, will be held on Aug. 9 to 11, in Washington D.C. There will also be tracks and technical sessions dedicated to the following topics: Maritime and Port Vulnerabilities and Security; Computer Forensics; Cyber Security; First Responders; Financial Institution Security; Regulatory Compliance; and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Systems.

Nova Biologicals' President Dr. Paul Pearce has been selected to chair the Drinking Water Security Track at the InfraGard 2005 National Conference. Speakers for the Drinking Water Security Track will include experts from the Department of Homeland Security, EPA and the U.S. Air Force.

"As security tightens around airports and other facilities, terrorists are focusing their efforts on targets that have relaxed security and easy access, and are critical to our Nation's wellbeing," Pearce said. "When struck, these 'soft targets', including our drinking water supply, will create fear and paralyze large groups of people."

The goals of the Drinking Water Security Track are to:

  • Provide an overview and rationale for implementation of drinking water security measures.
  • Outline management and operational considerations for enhancing physical security.
  • Review design considerations for developing physical security.
  • Present guidelines for selecting optimal physical security equipment.
  • Describe cyber security management, operations, and design considerations.
  • Enhance emergency response planning capabilities.
  • Present a systematic approach to a fully integrated plan for drinking water security.

For more information about the InfraGard 2005 National Conference, visit http://www.infragardconferences.com.

Pennsylvania Governor Signs Water Security Funding Bill

On July 14, Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D) signed House Bill 612, sponsored by Rep. Carole A. Rubley (R-Chester/Montgomery), which amends the definition of a "project" that PENNVEST can fund to include costs associated with security measures related to water and wastewater supplies.

"I can't think of a more relevant use of PENNVEST funding than to protect the purity and integrity of Pennsylvania's water supply," said Rubley. "We take the availability of clean, drinkable water for granted. In order to ensure that the security of our water supply and treatment plants is not compromised, we need this legislation."

Smaller water systems especially do not have sufficient funds for necessary security measures, such as installing cameras or additional fencing, said Rubley.

Funds administered by PENNVEST that come from EPA's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program or the Federal Water Pollution Control Act could be used for security upgrades. Any state funds or accounts administered by PENNVEST could be similarly used.

The bill passed the House 191-0 and the Senate, with amendments, 50-0. The House concurred 199-0. The bill becomes effective 60 days after signing of the measure.

Rep. Carole A. Rubley: http://www.carolerubley.com

This article originally appeared in the 07/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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