Emergency Response and Security News

Cyber Security

In recent weeks, there have been reports of cyber attacks on utilities. There is no credible, corroborated data that indicates a risk to critical infrastructure or a threat to public safety. However, it is always wise to plan properly.

We recommend all water systems review their cyber security protections. At a minimum, consult the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) publication, Security Recommendations to Prevent Cyber Intrusions. More information regarding the CERT program, including a security assessment tool, can be found here: http://www.us-cert.gov/control_systems/satool.html.

Please report all suspicious activity to local law enforcement and your Office of Drinking Water regional engineer.

Also, view the Washington State Fusion Center's (WSFC) Suspicious Activity Reporting Pamphlet (PDF). The WSFC supports activities to detect, deter, and prevent terrorism.

New Data/Mapping System Aids in Emergency Response

Sun Harbor Water District #3 (PWSID # 85129) in Walla Walla County had an acute coliform (e-coli) boil water advisory on July 26th. The Walla Walla County Health Department used newly-created service area boundary GIS information to identify in a matter of minutes the 88 addresses served by the water system. They worked with the county emergency response office to quickly notify all customers of the boil water advisory.

The Walla Walla County Health Department used Office of Drinking Water grant funding from the DWSRF set-asides to develop a Geographic Information System (GIS) based map of all Group A service area boundaries, linking them to parcel boundaries. Before receiving the grant, when faced with a water system emergency the health department would spend an hour or more manually identifying addresses served by a water system. This is because service area boundary maps were only approximate, and were not linked directly to parcel boundaries. The new data enables accurate and efficient emergency response because it is linked to the county emergency response department's mapping database.

Copper thefts on the rise

In United States copper thefts rose at least 50 percent in 2010 compared to the previous year, largely driven by record-high prices for copper. Increase your attention to security surrounding your water utility copper infrastructure. Keep in mind the thefts are primarily for financial gain, many common sense approaches will deter most criminals. Remember to notify your local Law Enforcement officials if you see any suspicious activity.

Send questions or comments to the Office of Drinking Water.