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Since 9/11, utilities have done the obvious things to position themselves and improve their security. They have assessed their vulnerability, they have built the appropriate fences and barriers, they have documented scenarios about what could happen, they have improved their security practices, and they have executed training. All of these things have been done by all utilities. The question that remains–is this enough, or is this too much?

This presentation shows the current situation after 18 months of vulnerability assessments for the wastewater industry. This presentation will highlight the state of the wastewater industry in terms of vulnerability and will present the top ten strengths and the top five weaknesses that were documented as a result of training over 100 organizations and executing over 20 vulnerability assessments throughout the country.

The Catch-22 will be fully explained and documented in the presentation. What it means is achieving the delicate balance between spending whatever it takes to avoid a terrorist catastrophe and the need to be effective, efficient, and always getting better. These are sometimes mutually exclusive and need to be carefully balanced.

Effective, efficient solutions maximize the value of your investment, and can help resist the political pressure for the dramatic and costly response that creates a permanent bureaucracy. Of course utilities must be secure, but in prudent and reasonable ways.

Rather than adding a new bureaucracy of people, utilities can use technology as the main strategy for security, using it first to deter and detect, and then, if necessary, to react and respond. Use technology as the lever to contain costs, yet assure safe and secure facilities and operations.

The impact of these findings on the wastewater community is significant particularly with today's shrinking budgets. Doing all that you can with technology (that keeps improving every day in price/performance) makes the best investment sense for both safety and the utility's future.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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