Enforcement and Assistance in New England
Drinking Water Security
Improving the security of our nation's drinking water has become a top priority of EPA since the events of 9/11. Significant actions are underway to assess and reduce vulnerabilities to potential terrorist attacks; to plan for and practice response to emergencies and incidents; and to develop new security technologies to detect and monitor contaminants and prevent security breaches. For example, the Bioterrorism Act (PDF) (105 pp, 310K, about PDF) requires community drinking water systems serving populations of more than 3,300 persons to conduct assessments of their vulnerabilities to terrorist attack or other intentional acts and to defend against adversarial actions that might substantially disrupt the ability of a system to provide a safe and reliable supply of drinking water.
Under this act, EPA and water utilities are responsible for enhancing water sector security and developing response measures for potential threats to the nation's water supplies and systems. As result, every community water system serving more than 3,300 persons is required to:
- Conduct a vulnerability assessment;
- Certify and submit a copy of the vulnerability assessment to the EPA Administrator;
- Prepare or revise an emergency response plan based on the results of the vulnerability assessment; and
- Certify to the EPA Administrator, within 6 months of completing the assessment, that an emergency response plan has been completed or updated.
There are 429 community water systems within New England that are subject to the Bioterrorism Act. Through a combination of compliance and enforcement efforts (including the issuance of 11 Administrative Orders), we were able to get 100% compliance with the above requirements of the Bioterrorism Act in 2006. The high rate of compliance achieved would not have been possible without assistance from each of the New England states and the individual drinking water systems.
Further information about drinking water security can be found on EPA New England's water security website.