AWWA 2001: Association urges water suppliers to improve security measures

AWWA urged the world's tap water suppliers to improve security measures as its Annual Conference and Exposition opened Sunday, June 17, 2001.

By KATHY PURSLEY
WW Associate Editor

Washington, D.C., June 18, 2001—The American Water Works Association (AWWA) urged the world's tap water suppliers to improve security measures as its Annual Conference and Exposition opened Sunday, June 17, 2001. A crowd of over 11,000 drinking water professionals converged at the exposition opening on this first day of the AWWA conference.

"The contribution of water utilities to our public health and standard of living is too precious to leave vulnerable to a terrorist threat," said AWWA executive director, Jack Hoffbuhr. "Today the drinking water profession and federal law enforcement have taken great strides in ensuring that vital contribution can be protected from a wanton act of aggression."

Counter-terrorism efforts between the federal government and the drinking water community have been under way since a presidential directive in 1998 established the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC). Since then representatives from several water utilities around the country formed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Advisory Group (CIPAG) and have focused on better protecting America's drinking water infrastructure from terrorist attack. AWWA and the rest of the drinking water community have been working closely with the US EPA and NIPC to ensure the nation's drinking water infrastructure is adequately prepared to deal with the threat of a terrorist act against it.

"Water utilities provide a great service to the public health," said Hoffbuhr. "Today, AWWA has urged them to take the necessary precautions to protect against terrorism jeopardizing their important work."

Part of this preparation is an ongoing joint USEPA/AWWA Research Foundation project intended to develop an assessment tool for determining a facility's vulnerability to unwanted intrusion or attack. The project also will produce a process to help utilities prioritize their security needs. At its annual conference AWWA advised utilities on how to identify potential threats to their facilities, how to assess the level of threat, and what precautions they should undertake to protect against terrorist acts.

These recommendations were incorporated into discussions on improving physical plant and information technology security and enhancing communications with public health and law enforcement officials at the local, state and federal levels.

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