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New Bedford Receives $115,000 For Drinking Water Security

Release Date: 08/06/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

FREETOWN, MASS. – Flanked by state and local officials at the Quittacas treatment plant, Robert Varney, regional administrator for the EPA's New England Office, today awarded $115,000 to the New Bedford Water Department for improving drinking water security.

The grant will be used to assess the vulnerability of the drinking water system to attack or other emergencies. Recent federal legislation -- the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 – requires utilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and prepare emergency response plans according to specific timetables.

"Safe drinking water is vital to everyone," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "This grant is going to help New Bedford examine its system to better protect against threats to clean and safe water at the tap for city residents."

"We're very pleased to partner with EPA in this important initiative to protect not only the water supply of New Bedford, but of the region as well," said Frederick M. Kalisz, Jr., mayor of New Bedford. "Today's announcement, together with our participation in the Betty's Neck watershed purchase, shows the strong commitment we have today to protecting our water resources in the future."

"DEP has worked closely with the EPA to develop programs to assist Massachusetts' communities, such as New Bedford, improve security and emergency preparedness for their public water systems," said Paul Taurasi, Southeast Regional Director for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). "DEP will continue to support efforts to harden security at public water systems throughout the Commonwealth in order to ensure safe and adequate water supplies."

In the wake of September 11, EPA has been working closely with states and utilities to improve drinking water security. In addition to preparedness planning grants like those announced today, EPA has trained more than 1,000 operators at 16 workshops across the region.

Today's grants are part of $53 million EPA is awarding nationwide for drinking water security at large systems. EPA is also awarding $5 million to states to enhance state water security coordination, and expects to make approximately $17 million available to states to assist small- and medium-sized systems with drinking water security.

The New Bedford Water Department serves a regional population of 135,000 including the city of New Bedford and the towns of Freetown, Acushnet, and Dartmouth, and on occasion the Town of Fairhaven. The system has an average daily consumption of 12.5 million gallons per day.