California's public water agencies are spending millions of dollars to boost security and ensure the safety of local water supplies following the events of September 11, according to a recent survey by the Association of California Water Agencies.
Agencies serving the biggest populations spent well over $1 million each on measures to enhance security and expect to spend nearly as much in the next budget cycle, the survey found. Water agencies serving the fewest customers, primarily agricultural water providers, incurred the lowest security costs. Average costs for all survey respondents ranged from $46,350 to $71,904.
The survey conducted by ACWA in February found that water agencies have taken numerous steps to improve security and minimize the potential impact of terrorist attacks on water facilities and supplies. Measures include installing new security gates, lighting and access controls; increasing water quality testing and monitoring; conducting vulnerability assessments; and upgrading Web site and data system security.
Agencies are evaluating additional measures in the next budget cycle that will further enhance security, according to the survey. Average anticipated costs for the next budget year range from $78,558 to $279,557 per agency. About 22 percent of the survey respondents said they plan to fund the increased expenditures by increasing water rates. Another 8 percent plan to apply for state revolving funds to cover the expenditures, while 70 percent said they will use reserves, existing revenues, service reductions or budget reallocations to fund the measures.
ACWA Executive Director Stephen Hall said the survey shows that water agencies do not take for granted the security of their water systems and safety of public water supplies. "ACWA members take threats to our water security very seriously, and they are taking action to the best of their abilities and resources to protect California's vital water supplies."
ACWA is a statewide association whose 440 members are responsible for about 90 percent of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit www.acwanet.com.