Mayor Hahn, LADWP announce increased security measures for LA's water and power system

With the onset of war with Iraq, Los Angeles officials on Thursday told the public that the city is working to protect Los Angeles's water and power systems from potential terrorist threats.

LOS ANGELES, March 21, 2003 -- With the onset of war with Iraq raising concerns about security of the nation's infrastructure, Mayor Jim Hahn and City of Los Angeles officials on Thursday reassured the public that the city is vigilantly working to protect Los Angeles's water and power systems from potential terrorist threats.

Police Chief William Bratton, Fire Chief William Bamattre, Department of Water and Power General Manager David Wiggs, and the City's Emergency Preparedness Department General Manager Ellis Stanley joined Mayor Hahn at the Sylmar Converter Station site, a power facility located near the Los Angeles Aqueduct Filtration Plant, to update the public on security measures undertaken and planned for. Additional security measures at key water and power facilities have been implemented since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

"With Homeland Security Secretary Ridge once again raising the terror threat alert to Level Orange, it is clear that we need to be extraordinarily vigilant in order to ensure that the public's water is safe to drink and that its power systems will remain reliable," said Mayor Hahn. "Fortunately, we did not start this effort yesterday. We've been working with the Department of Water and Power to increase monitoring of water supplies and to double its security forces since 9/11."

LADWP provides water and power services to more than 3.8 million residents and thousands of businesses. Each year, it provides some 215 billion gallons of water and nearly 2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity to customers in the City of Los Angeles.

"The Department of Water and Power will be vigilant in ensuring that our system receives the maximum protection possible," added Wiggs. "We recognize that LADWP plays an enormous role in the life of Los Angeles. We are protecting nothing less than the public's access to resources that are vital for life, health and commerce."

"Over the last several months, the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department have been tasked with taking extraordinary measures as part of our preparatory efforts to keep this City safe," said Police Chief William Bratton. "I am confident in the steps we have taken to date and am even more confident in our ability to execute these plans, if needed. All of our efforts are aimed at addressing the levels of anxiety that exist amongst residents; they are not aimed at addressing any specific threat to our City."

City Council President Alex Padilla and Councilmember Cindy Miscikowski also added their support for the increased security measures to protect Los Angeles's water and power systems.

"I applaud Mayor Hahn and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for working around the clock to ensure that our City's drinking water and power delivery are protected," said City Council President Alex Padilla. "With the onset of war and the decision by the federal government to raise the threat level, the Mayor and City officials must work together to ensure Angelenos that the security of the LADWP will not be comprised and that we will continue to be provided with the water and power we need every day."

Officials outlined the following actions undertaken by LADWP officials to meet the potential threats:

* Increased water testing by 50 percent from 150,000 tests per year to 225,000 tests per year.

* Doubling of LADWP's security force.

* Adding two new helicopters for increased aerial security patrols of LADWP water and power facilities.

* 24-hour security presence at key water system facilities. Since going to "high" alert, LADWP increased security officers at key locations.

* The Department's Office of Emergency Management and Security Services is working with other federal, state, and local government agencies to coordinate response to terrorist threats and ensure that up-to-date information is shared with key personnel.

* Agreements with neighboring utilities to route power through their transmission systems in the event of an outage affecting LADWP's system.

* An outside security consultant was hired to conduct a comprehensive security evaluation and prepare a recommended implementation plan for nearly 90 LADWP facilities. Those recommendations are being reviewed and many have already been implemented.

"We need to stress that we have not received any intelligence specifically concerning a threat to LADWP's system," said Mayor Hahn. "The FBI, CIA and other state and federal authorities have requested increased security for water and power facilities and we are here today to ensure the citizens of Los Angeles that we are working hard to ensure the safety and reliability of our water and power services. These actions are vital to protecting the residents of Los Angeles from the impact of possible terrorists' attacks."

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