U.S. water utilities can expect the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to continue site visits by its Protective Security Division, according to a recent joint USEPA/DHS bulletin that describes the nature of such visits under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7.
Issued last December, the directive gives DHS and other federal agencies the responsibility to identify and set priorities for protecting critical infrastructure and key resources. The new bulletin clarifies how DHS teams will coordinate their visits with the EPA and targeted utilities as well as with state homeland security and drinking water officials.
The bulletin further directs utility officials to ensure that DHS team members "are in fact from DHS" prior to allowing them entry and suggests contacting regional USEPA of DHS officials, local Secret Service offices or state homeland security offices to verify visitor identities.
Meanwhile, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 9 signed earlier this year covers food and agricultural security but also includes provisions dealing with drinking water, including directing USEPA and DHS to develop:
* "Robust, comprehensive and fully coordinated surveillance and monitoring systems, including international information, for animal disease, plant disease, wildlife disease, food, public health and water quality that provides early detection and awareness of disease, pest or poisonous agents;
* Enhanced "nationwide laboratory networks for food, veterinary, plant health and water quality that integrate existing federal and state laboratory resources, are interconnected, and utilize standardized diagnostic protocols and procedures;
* Enhanced "intelligence operations and analysis capabilities focusing on the agriculture, food and water sectors;" and
* "A new biological threat awareness capacity that will enhance detection and characterization of an attack" and "build upon the improved and upgraded surveillance systems ...and integrate and analyze domestic and international surveillance and monitoring data collected from human health, animal health, plant health, food and water quality systems.