Water Utilities First To Measure Security Progress Under Plan
The water sector is set to become the first of the country’s 18 critical infrastructure and key resource sectors to develop a metric and launch a tool to gauge security progress under the National Infrastructure Protection Plan framework.
“We’ve got a lot of great stories and anecdotes about utilities that are really doing a lot to safeguard not just the hazardous materials they have, but to enhance their ‘all hazards’ security posture,” says L. Vance Taylor, manager of security policy for the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies. “But there’s nothing that’s been developed to date that allows us to get a sectorwide measure of these [efforts].”
According to Congressional Quarterly, drinking water and wastewater utilities will be able to access the tool and fill out the 22 questions that comprise the metric this week.
“Those of us in the water sector want to make sure that we are doing the right thing to protect our utilities and to do everything to minimize the impact of any natural disaster or terrorist attack,” says Billy Turner, chairman of the Water Sector Coordinating Council and president of the Columbus, Ga., Water Works.
Developed as part of a collaboration between government representatives from such agencies as the Homeland Security Department and the EPA and members of the Water Sector Coordinating Council, CQ reports that the tool’s questions range from general — “Have you integrated security and preparedness into budgeting, training, and manpower responsibilities?” — to more specific — “For what period of time does your utility have backup power?”
“We sat down and said ‘what works here for measuring?’ ” says Jim Caverly, director of the partnership and outreach division in DHS’s Office of Infrastructure Protection. “So we jointly did that.”
According to Caverly, the various sectors committed to developing metrics as part of their involvement with the National Infrastructure Protection Plan.
“It’s not mandatory in the sense that there is … a legal requirement that requires them to do that or a legislative requirement, but it is a commitment that they’ve signed up to do,” Caverly says.
DHS expects the other sectors to develop their metrics by the summer of 2009, Caverly told CQ.
“Not all sectors will have a ‘tool,’ but all sectors will have in essence the information framework that allows you to do the measurement,” Caverly said.
The water sector had already begun developing a metric when DHS approached it about creating one.
“They showed the way,” Caverly said of the water sector. “They had reasons to be moving out on what they’re doing and those reasons fit nicely with the things we wanted to do. So they’re ahead of the curve.”
DHS is now encouraging the other sectors to use the water sector’s process and model as a framework for creating their own metric, Caverly said.