The American Water Works Association (AWWA) recently announced recommendations for public water systems to comply with the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act that was signed by President Bush in June.
The act includes significant new requirements for water utilities intended to better prepare the nation for another terrorist attack. Part of the act requires water utilities serving more than 3,300 people to conduct vulnerability assessments to include a review of pipes and constructed conveyances; physical barriers; water collection, pretreatment, treatment, and storage and distribution facilities.
Information contained in the vulnerability assessment is exempt from the Federal Freedom of Information Act disclosure, but AWWA has notified its member utilities that information in vulnerability assessments may be discussed with state and local officials, given to Congress upon request, used in administrative or judicial proceedings, or in other regulatory proceedings.
"We are calling on states to ensure that vulnerability assessments are afforded complete protection under state and local sunshine laws," says Tom Curtis, deputy executive director of AWWA.