Flying into the Sacramento airport the other day, it dawned on me. I can just look at the screen for my name, drive off in a car, and GET STOPPED. There is always a security guard or you gather your keys at the check out counter. The rental car agencies have done a pretty good job at securing their prize investments. The vehicles are well protected and the policy seems streamlined and simple. Get stopped by a security gate or go retrieve your keys by flashing your drivers license. Simple right? Wrong.
How about a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP)? I went to a recent WWTP in Northern California and drove my very secure rental car into the facility and stopped at the visitor parking spot. The gate was opened and there was no security guard. I suppose if I had mal-intent I could have reeked havoc on this WWTP. But I didn't. After all I was there to teach a safety class for incident management. The result of this story is not very difficult to grasp. Similar to the rental car facilities, this WWTP could implement a policy to help secure their most prized assets, treatment equipment. If I am not mistaken, the equipment costs local-sewer-paying-citizens many dollars. Just so you know, they alerted me that they were in the middle of clamping down on their security policies, and here is an example of this, I forgot to sign in, and they were on top of it! Getting me down to sign in on their visitors log sheet right away. I love awareness! Try it!
The Federal Government has not required WWTP's to comply with vulnerability guidlines like they have for Water Treatment Plants (WTP). Unfortunately this prejudice is harsh, because WTP's have nearly the same equipment as WWTP's. The only difference is the media they are treating; Water vs. Wastewater. There are slight differences in chemistry, but the premise is the same. "MEET THE STRINGENT EPA REQUIREMENTS FOR DISCHARGE OR CONSUMPTION" Nevertheless, the conversation remains, how much security do I need? The only way to remedy that is to pretend that you are intruder, how easy was it to get away with things you wouldn't want to have happen to you? Then you can decide whether or not you are secure enough.
Let's step up our efforts to secure our people, public and our equipment. You know you can do a better job.
Tools to help: EPA's Vulnerability assessment, Consultants and the AWWA Vulnerability Guidleines. (Google: CFATS) (Chemical Facility and Anti Terrorism Standards)