Resilient and Secure Water Systems

Overview

As stewards of public health and the environment, water professionals have always been aware of the risks associated with securing reservoirs and wells to protect the water supply — to guarding materials at their facilities from theft and sabotage, to planning for response and recovery from events ranging from routine pipe breaks to natural disasters. In this important sense the water sector has embraced an all-hazards approach to security and emergency preparedness that mirrors the multibarrier approach for water treatment.

Today, the threats we face also include the risks of intentional harm through malevolent acts. Due to the changing and interactive nature of security and emergency preparedness, the issues of greatest importance to utilities are difficult to compartmentalize. The information presented here seeks to provide insight on the key drivers that influence the water sector’s activities regarding cybersecurity, physical security and emergency response.

What's happening now

AWWA developed an After Action Report for the 2017 hurricane season (PDF) based on the observation of impacted utilities, responders, partner and the Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN). The report builds on testimony AWWA provided in November 2017 regarding opportunities to improve support and collaboration with key partners during major incidents that impact the water sector.

In an effort to provide utilities with more actionable information on cybersecurity, AWWA has produced the Process Control System Security Guidance for the Water Sector and a supporting Use-Case Tool. Training sessions are now being organized by AWWA Sections.

AWWA is a member of the Water Sector Coordinating Council, which includes representatives from the national water association. The most recent strategic plan, Roadmap to a Secure and Resilient Water and Wastewater Sector (PDF), identifies four priority activities:

  • Establish the critical lifeline status of the Water and Wastewater Sector and translate that definition into strong support for the sector’s needs and capabilities.
  • Improve detection, response, and recovery to contamination incidents.
  • Advance preparedness and improve capabilities of the Water and Wastewater Sector for area-wide loss of water and power.
  • Advance recognition of vulnerabilities and needed responses related to cyber risk management.