Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services was recently chosen by the Environmental Protection Agency to participate in a pilot program geared toward preventing damage or disruption to small drinking water systems in the event of intentional acts from terrorists, vandals or other trespassers. The pilot project, "Businesses United for Water Security" is funded with a $200,000 EPA grant, which will help small community water systems to install security measures. Through this project, New Hampshire businesses are collaborating with DES and the water suppliers and contributing security equipment, products, and resources at or below cost to the systems.
"This public/private partnership presents a unique opportunity for us to help provide the means necessary to protect our critical small water systems against terrorist activity or other threats," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA'’ New England office. "Since we all share in the use of abundant, clean, and potable water for our daily needs, we will all benefit from the results of this innovative water security program. After all, water security is everyone’s business."
There are over 700 community public water systems in New Hampshire, most of which rely on groundwater and surface water sources that are typically located in isolated areas. According to expert reports, many of these types of systems are ideal "soft" targets for a terrorist attack. Water system structures, like storage tanks, can also be targets of local vandals and others who may seek to do damage.
"Because of the significant resources needed for daily operation and compliance at small public water systems, without new and creative funding mechanisms the majority of these systems are unable to address all of their security concerns. This is significant because a successful terrorist attack, hoax or act of vandalism at a small water system could significantly undermine public confidence in drinking water," DES Commissioner, Michael Nolin noted. "Unfortunately, this problem was seen first hand at a recent vandalism incident in Blackstone, Mass. where schools and businesses were shut down for two days after teenagers breached the security at a water tank resulting in over $41,000 in expenses to the town."
The new collaborative program will help beef up measures which address security vulnerabilities to small public water systems. Participating businesses will be listed on the NHDES Web site. Water system personnel will be able to search for security products and services on the program Web site. Grants can be used to pay for installation of the following security products: locks; gates; alarm systems; barriers for access roads, windows and doors; fencing; back-up generators; access controls; lights; cameras; and security components for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. Applications to receive grant money are due by September 1, 2006.
The following New Hampshire businesses have agreed to provide discounts for security products: B&S Integrated Security Systems/ B&S Locksmiths, Inc. of Nashua; Stef’s ACE Hardware of Portsmouth; Northmark Security of New London; Intervale Lock & Safe of Intervale; and American Alarm & Communications, Inc. of Manchester.
More information regarding this program including participating businesses and grant applications can be found on the NHDES web site.