Prepare for the Worst and Hope for the Best while Remaining Vigilant

Threats from domestic extremists and foreign adversaries have increased since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and as our nation moves closer to next week’s election. While one would think that civil unrest would be concentrated in our nation’s metropolitan areas rather than smaller, rural communities, don’t count on it! There is always the possibility that one or more people living in your own hometown may be planning to create havoc and destruction locally before joining other efforts in larger cities. Our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure create high-value targets for terrorist activities. Be mindful that extremely low-cost / high-impact strategies include acts of poisoning drinking water supplies as well as cyber-attacks that take control of your SCADA systems.

The first two components of the National Preparedness System are to identify and assess risks and to evaluate and estimate your capabilities should an act of intentional sabotage occur. Now is the time to take the following steps:

  • Dust off and review your Security Vulnerability Assessment or Risk and Resilience Assessment
  • Review your Emergency Response Plan
  • Update your plan, especially important contact numbers
  • Make sure that everyone on your team knows their responsibilities and required actions in the event of any emergency
  • Perform a thorough inspection of your active and passive barriers to your facilities, including your perimeter fencing, operable locks on gates and treatment plant doors, exterior lighting, CCTV cameras and monitors, and alarms.

Please do not put off correcting any vulnerabilities that you identify.

As local officials, utility board members, certified water and wastewater operators, and other utility staff, you have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to continue the operation of these essential systems and to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water to our homes and businesses and the discharge of treated wastewater. Your families, friends, and neighbors have suffered through this pandemic just like the rest of us, but every day you continue to perform your critical duties of ultimately protecting public health by supplying potable water and protecting environmental health by ensuring the discharge of clean wastewater. We appreciate you and hope that you will remain vigilant and be prepared for any contingency that may threaten your critical mission in serving your community!

Click HERE for the EPA’s Water Security Division’s list of products and services for improving the resiliency of the water sector.