Water Security Congress explores means of protecting nation's water supply

More than 45 manufacturers of water monitoring technology, computer systems and security devices gathered to explore the newest means of protecting public water supplies from terrorism recently.

April 29, 2004 -- More than 45 manufacturers of state-of-the-art water monitoring technology, computer systems and security devices gathered with water utility professionals, public health experts, and law enforcement officials to explore the newest means of protecting public water supplies from terrorism at the American Water Works Association's second Water Security Congress, which concluded April 27 in Charlotte.

The three-day congress drew together close to 400 water utility professionals, emergency responders, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials, FBI agents and others to share information critical to guarding the nation's most precious natural resource. Participants discussed coordination among emergency agencies and executed table-top exercises to practice responses in the event of a contamination attempt or physical attack on a water system.

"One of the best ways to ensure a community water supply remains safe is to learn from the experiences of others," said AWWA Executive Director Jack W. Hoffbuhr. "The ideas and technology shared over the past three days will continue to build a culture of vigilance that's critical in this new era of domestic security concerns."

Technical sessions focused on topics ranging from hardening physical security to integrating computer systems to implementing EPA-required vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans. One session focused on how to detect contamination by observing changes in living organisms such as water fleas.

Among the prominent speakers at the congress were Mike Lowder, Branch Chief of Operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Special Agent David C. Martinez, FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction coordinator, and Janet D. Pawlukiewicz, acting director of EPA's Water Security Division.

About The American Water Works Association

Established in 1881, AWWA is the oldest and largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to safe drinking water in North America. AWWA has more than 57,000 members worldwide and its 4,700 utility members serve 80 percent of America's population. For more information on AWWA, go to http://www.awwa.org.

More in Environmental