Water Utilities Lobby for Security Funding


An association representing some 4,500 public water systems has urged Congress to allocate more funding for security measures imposed on the industry by the federal government.

A representative from the American Water Works Association (AWWA) told members of a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee that the Bush administration’s 2004 budget request for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not adequate to meet the “homeland security needs of our nation’s public water system infrastructure.”

The nation’s water utilities are in the process of filing security assessments with the EPA. It provided these utilities with some $50 million in grants to complete these assessments, but the smaller suppliers have not been so fortunate. And the Bush administration has only requested $18 million in the fiscal year 2004 budget for “technical assistance” funds for security at water utilities.

This figure far less from what the AWWA believes is needed. The organization is lobbying for some $460 million to fund public water system security costs in fiscal year 2004, including $450 for the EPA required security vulnerability assessments of utilities serving more than 3,300 people.

The balance of the request would fund public water system security training and the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which is designed to collect, analyze and communicate critical security warnings and threats to the nation’s water utilities.

“Drinking water suppliers have a long history of security preparedness,” said Michael Hooker, executive director of the Onondaga County Water Authority in Syracuse, N.Y., who testified on behalf of AWWA. “However, the post-September 11 world has added a new understanding of security and has added an unprecedented financial burden on public water systems for immediate steps needed to protect our citizens.”

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