EPA Document Identifies 14 Features Of An Active, Effective Water Security Program

EPA has identified 14 key features of an active and effective water security program that will help water and wastewater systems reduce risk to public health from terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

A May 11 notice on the agency's Water Security Web page announced the publication of the booklet, Active and Effective Water Security Programs: A Summary Report of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council Recommendations on Water Security. According to the booklet, the goal of implementing the 14 security features is to create a significant improvement in water security on a national scale, by reducing vulnerabilities, and therefore risk to public health from terrorist attacks and natural disasters. To create a sustainable effect, the sector as a whole must not only adopt and actively practice the features, but also incorporate the features into "business as usual."

In fall 2003, the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) established a Water Security Working Group (WSWG) to consider and make recommendations on water security issues. The NDWAC directed the WSWG to:

  • Identify active and effective security practices for drinking water and wastewater utilities, and provide an approach for adopting these practices.
  • Recommend mechanisms to provide incentives that facilitate broad and receptive response among the water sector to implement active and effective security practices.
  • Recommend mechanisms to measure progress and achievements in implementing active and effective security practices, and identify barriers to implementation.

The WSWG included stakeholders from many perspectives and used a collaborative, problem-solving approach to develop its recommendations. The NDWAC recommendations on security are structured to maximize benefits to utilities by emphasizing actions that have the potential both to improve the quality or reliability of utility service, and to enhance security. The recommendations were designed for use by water systems of all types and sizes, including systems that serve less than 3,300 people.

The NDWAC identified 14 features of active and effective security programs that are important to increasing security and relevant across the broad range of utility circumstances and operating conditions. The 14 features are, in many cases, consistent with the steps needed to maintain technical, management, and operational performance capacity related to overall water quality. Many utilities may be able to adopt some of the features with minimal, if any, capital investment, agency officials said.

The recommendations address utility security in four functional categories: organizational, operational, infrastructure, and external.

For more information on the 14 features, go to http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/14features.cfm.

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.