The American Water Works Association (AWWA) today highlighted water security and emergency response at its Annual Conference and Exhibition at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.
AWWA's 121st annual conference, the first the association has hosted since the events of September 11, has focused much on water safety and security issues. Featured forums included AWWA's H2Open Forum, "When the Extraordinary Overshadows the Everyday," and seminars, including, "Counter-Terrorism and Security in the Water Industry," and "The World Trade Center Attack: A Water Supplier Responds," featuring Paul Bennett, director of Emergency Management, New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
"I'm honored to be here before the members of AWWA and to share my experiences of 9/11, particularly the task of continuing to ensure a sufficient supply of water for our emergency response during exceptional circumstances," said Bennett. "It's my sincere hope that no one ever has to go through that type of disaster response again. I hope my insight can help someone else no matter what the circumstances."
"We're humbled at Paul's willingness to share his unusual experiences with our members," said Jack Hoffbuhr, executive director of AWWA. "It's truly hard to imagine what that day must have been like for so many people, especially those trying to re-establish and maintain critical public service functions. His insight is invaluable."
Following September 11, the media, and regulatory and legislative officials examined the security of America's drinking water supply. The Public Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness Act mandates that vulnerability assessments be conducted by public water systems serving more than 3,300 customers. Public water systems are the first industry to be mandated by the federal government to undergo vulnerability assessments. Emergency response plans that consider the results of these vulnerability assessments also are required.
Established in 1881, AWWA is the oldest and largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to safe drinking water in North America. AWWA has 56,000 members worldwide and its 4,500 utility members serve 80 percent of America's population.