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EPA Awards $489,000 To Massachusetts for Drinking Water Security; Includes $115,000 to City of Springfield

Release Date: 11/14/2002
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - The US Environmental Protection Agency today awarded $259,000 to the state of Massachusetts and $115,000 to both the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission and the Worcester Department of Public Works for improving drinking water security.

The $259,000 to the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection will support training and technical assistance to small and medium drinking water systems – those serving 3,300 to 100,000 people. These activities will focus on completing assessments of the system’s vulnerability, which will help water utilities and local emergency officials delay, detect and respond to drinking water emergencies.

Springfield's grant will be used to assess the vulnerability of the drinking water system to attack or other security breaches. Recent federal legislation – the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 – requires utilities to assess their vulnerabilities and prepare emergency response plans.

"The events of Sept. 11 taught us that drinking water security is a matter for each and every one of us,” said Jane Downing, associate director of drinking water at EPA’s New England Office, who announced the grants during a tour today of Worcester’s water system. "Water utilities like the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission have stepped their efforts to prevent and respond to emergencies. This grant will help Springfield examine its system to ensure that everything possible is being done to protect the drinking water supply for the system’s 250,000 users."

“The Bioterrorism Bill requires that water suppliers develop vulnerability assessments to help protect against terrorist attacks or other intentional acts against drinking water supplies,” said Douglas R. Borgatti, operations director of the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission. “This effort is both costly and unanticipated. The Federal Security Grant Program provides funds to bridge this gap and ensure compliance with regulations and offer relief to the communities.”

"Massachusetts water suppliers have been working hard to protect drinking water sources for thousands of residents," said Mike Gorski, director of DEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "However, we must continue to be diligent about making security improvements and reducing threats from terrorism. This grant will help ensure the long-term security of the Springfield water supply at a time when DEP resources and staffing have been severely impacted by state budget cuts."

In the wake of Sept. 11, EPA has been working closely with states and utilities to improve drinking water security. In addition to grants for preparedness planning like those announced today, EPA has trained more than 1,500 operators at 18 workshops across the region.

Today's grant to the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission is among $53 million EPA has awarded nationwide for drinking water security at large systems. EPA also awarded $5 million nationwide to states to enhance state water security coordination, and about $17 million to states to train and assist small- and medium-sized systems with drinking water security.

The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission serves a regional population of 250,000, including the city of Springfield, as well as the towns of Ludlow, East Long Meadow, Longmeadow, and Agawan. The system has an average daily consumption of 35 million gallons per day.