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Water: Water Security

Water Security Resources for Small Systems

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Why Focus on Security?

Security practices should be incorporated into a utility's every day business functions. Activities such as fence cutting and lock picking, often dismissed as harmless, may be indications of more serious threats to a water or wastewater system. Utilities must be prepared to respond to this type of threat, as well as a wide range of other emergencies, including natural disasters. Improved security preparations provide for a more effective and efficient response.

Water and wastewater utilities are responsible for taking action to protect their infrastructure. The federal government and EPA are helping utilities to accomplish these actions by providing tools, trainings, and technical assistance.

Several resources designed specifically to help small drinking water and wastewater utilities better protect their systems are available through this site.

Small Systems Requirements Under the Bioterrorism Act

The Bioterrorism Act defines small community drinking water systems as those serving a population of more than 3,300 but less than 50,000. If a community drinking water system serves more than 3,300 people, that utility must:

  • Conduct a vulnerability assessment
  • Certify to EPA that the assessment has been completed
  • Send a copy of the assessment results to EPA
  • Certify that the system has an emergency response plan.

The Bioterrorism Act sets the following due dates for certifying and submitting vulnerability assessments and certifying emergency response plans for small water systems:

Systems Serving Population of: Certify and Submit Vulnerability Assessment by: Certify Emergency Response Plan:
3,301-49,999 June 30, 2004 Six months following the completion of the Vulnerability Assessment

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Resources Available for Small Water Systems

  • Emergency/Incident Planning
    • Emergency Response Plan Guidance PDF (45pp, 415K) - This document provides guidance to small and medium-sized community drinking water systems on developing or revising thier Emergency Response Plan (ERP) |Read More|
    • Response Protocol Toolbox - This document is composed of six interrelated modules that provide guidance on planning for and responding to both threats and actual incidents of intentional contamination of public drinking water supplies
    • Emergency Response Workshops - EPA is conducting a workshop series for all sizes of water utilities that provides instrution on the Response Protocal Toolbox and the Incident Commant System. Day 2 of this workshop is devotes to an enhanced tabletop exercise that will test and develop emergecny response skills.
    • ERP Enhancement to Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tools (VSAT) Software  Exit EPA Disclaimer |Read More|

Helpful Links

American Water Works Association (AWWA)  Exit EPA Disclaimer

Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA)  Exit EPA Disclaimer

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  Exit EPA Disclaimer

EPA's Office of Wastewater Management: Small Communities

National Environmental Services Center  Exit EPA Disclaimer

National Rural Water Association  Exit EPA Disclaimer

Rural Community Assistance Partnership Exit EPA Disclaimer

Water Environment Federation (WEF)  Exit EPA Disclaimer

Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC)  Exit EPA Disclaimer

Water Security Channel  Exit EPA Disclaimer


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