Federal Funding to Boost Water Infrastructure Security

Among the initiatives to upgrade building security and protect the nation's infrastructure, addressing a heightened concern for public safety in a new era of terrorism, is new federal legislation that will fund water utilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and enhance safety at their plants. Out of the $89 million that Congress has allocated for the initiative to bolster water infrastruc...

07/01/2002


Among the initiatives to upgrade building security and protect the nation's infrastructure, addressing a heightened concern for public safety in a new era of terrorism, is new federal legislation that will fund water utilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and enhance safety at their plants.

Out of the $89 million that Congress has allocated for the initiative to bolster water infrastructure security, $53 million is available in the form of individual grants of up to $115,000 for utilities to conduct vulnerability assessments, remediation planning and/or emergency plan development.

"This is a very significant event," notes Allen Rose, P.E., a vice president with Black & Veatch, Kansas City.

Rose who also heads up the firm's security design and consulting services, points out that the legislation is more of a jump start to get utilities going in the right direction.

"Additional public and private funds will need to be made available to fully address these security issues," he claims.

As security upgrades start to occur, consulting engineers should anticipate having to deal with things like security checks at water utilities, cautions Rose.

"It's truly going to be a cultural change for the industry. In the past, utilities have been very open to the public. It's not going to be the case anymore. Utilities are really going to have to embrace the fact that security has to be a part of their day-to-day operations."

Electrical engineers may also benefit from the impact of these upgrades, says Tony Dark, P.E., the executive vice president of homeland security services for Tetra-Tech's Tulsa office.

"Many [of the more secure] systems being discussed include applications that involve electrical engineering whether it's software or biometrics," says Dark.





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