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Understanding the Consequences of Exploiting Water Sector Vulnerabilities

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The National Infrastructure Protection Plan defines risk as the measure of potential harm that encompasses threat, vulnerability, and consequence. Risk as it relates to the water sector (drinking water and wastewater utilities) is a function of the likelihood and vulnerability of disruption or attack on a drinking water or wastewater system or its components, and the likely consequences of a disruption or successful attack. In order to assist water sector utilities with being better prepared to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from malevolent, natural or accidental disasters, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Water, through its Water Security Division, is analyzing the human health and economic consequences of selected event scenarios in the water sector.

This paper will provide an update on the project results of the consequences identified for selected event scenarios. These results will provide stakeholders from the water sector and cross-sector interdependent infrastructures with information critical to management of specific risks and vulnerabilities. Drinking water and wastewater utilities have concerns about potential vulnerabilities such as on-site storage of hazardous chemicals, single points of failure in a water transmission and distribution systems, disruptions to wastewater collection systems, and chemical, biological or radiological contamination events. Water utility managers need to be able to objectively and comprehensively evaluate these risks within their overall risk management framework and make decisions about resource allocations to reduce risks and mitigate consequences. This project will provide the water sector with more uniform and robust consequence data for improving risk assessments and enhancing emergency response planning and recovery measures.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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