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To support water and wastewater utilities in implementing security standards to protect the public from potential bioterrorism and other threats, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $1.6 million grant for the development of voluntary guidelines that will provide a basis for developing new industry standards.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), together with the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), will work to develop guidance that cover the design, construction, rehabilitation, installation, operation and maintenance of water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure systems.
The guidance materials will aid water and wastewater utilities in mitigating vulnerabilities of their systems to man-made threats and natural disasters, mitigating potential disasters throughout the design and construction of new systems, and the operation and maintenance of existing ones.
"Providing risk reduction guidance for water, wastewater and stormwater systems is a critical step in protecting our nation's infrastructure and the public from potential terrorist threats," said ASCE executive director Patrick J. Natale, P.E., F.ASCE. "Through our collaboration with the AWWA and WEF, and with the support of the EPA, we will be able to provide resources for local communities to thwart economic disaster and illness among the public."
"We are delighted to partner with ASCE, AWWA, and EPA to provide much needed guidance for protecting our critical water infrastructure," said WEF executive director Bill Bertera.
The guidelines and other resources will be disseminated through technical sessions, workshops and conferences in order to educate designers, owners and operators of water, wastewater, and stormwater systems. As the lead agency responsible for water infrastructure security, the EPA has fostered public/private partnerships with non-profit associations, government agencies and utilities to develop effective guidelines and solutions to protect the nation's drinking water supply and wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
In June 2002, President Bush signed into law the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (PL 107-188), requiring over 8,000 community water systems serving populations of 3,300 or more to conduct and submit vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans to EPA.
There is currently not a similar requirement for vulnerability assessments by wastewater utilities; however legislation providing funding for wastewater utilities to implement security improvements has been approved by the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate.
The standards to be developed under Water Infrastructure Security Enhancements Standards Committee (WISE SC) will help water and wastewater utilities to identify and prioritize security concerns, conduct vulnerability assessments, and develop security plans.