Cyber Concerns for Water

Although DHS reports that, overall, the number of cyberattacks in 2014 that targeted critical infrastructure decreased by 9 percent over the previous year, the fact remains that cyber threats to power grids, oil pipelines, and other key systems continues to grow. The Industrial Control Systems-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) 2014 Year in Review report also explains that about 32 percent of all cyber security incidents reported to them in 2014 come from the energy sector – the single largest target among all 16 critical infrastructure sectors.  Slightly less than 15 percent come from the water sector.

While the reported incidents can range from simple phishing to significant and chronic software hacking and hijacking attacks, water sector utilities need to be vigilant about the potential impacts to their own abilities to function from these energy-centered attacks.  State primacy agencies, likewise, need to better understand the energy-water nexus if the worst comes to pass.  Education and awareness about cyber security threats and consequences are our collective responsibility.

To learn more about the cyber issues and concerns across all of the critical infrastructure sectors, go to https://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ICS-CERT%20YIR%202014.pdf.

From Texas to Maine, NOAA’s Expanded Flood Information Tool Promotes Resilience

A NOAA flood exposure risk mapping tool that was developed in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania has now been expanded to cover coastal areas along the entire U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. The Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper, a deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, provides users with maps, data, and information to assess risks and vulnerabilities related to coastal flooding and hazards. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau population count, 39 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties subject to significant coastal flooding.  This mapping tool visualizes anticipated flood effects, thereby aiding preparation for coastal storms.

With this NOAA tool, users select their location and the flood scenario of their choosing: Federal Emergency Management Agency flood designations, shallow coastal flooding associated with high tides, or flooding associated with sea level rise or storm surge. Flood maps are then overlaid with any of three exposure maps to show how floodwaters might impact area assets. All maps can be saved, printed, and shared.

  • The societal exposure map provides information on population density, poverty, the elderly, employees, and projected population growth. Communities can use this information for community planning and to determine how floodwaters might affect vulnerable or concentrated populations.
  • Roads, bridges, water, and sewer systems can be damaged by coastal flooding. Communities can use the mapper to assess infrastructure vulnerabilities and associated environmental and economic issues to determine what steps are needed to protect these assets.
  • The ecosystem exposure map provides data and information about natural areas and open spaces—including their proximity to development — to help communities identify which areas can be conserved for future flood protection benefits. Pollution sources are also identified to show where natural resources could be affected during a flood.

This map tool was developed by the NOAA Office for Coastal Management.

April 30 is National PrepareAthon! Day

Twice a year, a national day of action, National PrepareAthon! Day, focuses attention to the importance of creating a more resilient Nation by bringing stakeholders, communities, and individuals together to take action and join the conversation on resilience. April 30 marks the date for the first 2015 National PrepareAthon! Day.  This year’s event will focus on being better prepared for natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes.

You are encouraged to share this information with your colleagues in the water community.  Is your city, town, village, or community of whatever type ready to withstand Mother Nature?  Want to know more about your options?  Interested in being part of this year’s National PreparAthon! Day?  Take a look at these resources at www.ready.gov/prepare:

  • How to Prepare: This hazard-specific guide provides information on the basics for a range of hazards, how to protect yourself and your property, and what steps to take now.
  • Prepare Your Organization Playbooks tailored to each hazard: These materials are designed to provide community leaders and employers with tools and resources to support participation.
  • Fact sheets, background information, customizable promotional materials, and fill-in-the-blank template outreach materials: These resources encourage participation and promote involvement.

Additional resources and more information about this event are available on the FEMA website.  Go to http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/94719 and take a look!

Preparation is Power: A Training Tools Webinar

EPA’s Water Security Division is hosting a webinar to walk interested members of the water community through a number of recently developed tools.  You are invited to join WSD to learn how to use:

  • the new On-the-Go Mobile Website,
  • incident action checklists, and
  • the Scenario-based Projection and Storm Surge Maps.

These tools and resources are designed to help support a utility through all types of emergencies.

DATE:  May 13, 2015

TIME:  2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  https://usepa-waterutility-webinar.eventbrite.com

NOTE:  Using this registration format will provide you with a “ticket” that you should consider as a placeholder for the event.  At a later date, you will receive more information that includes a web link and dial in number for the webinar itself.

 

How Well Will You Coordinate with Your Lab in an Emergency?

There’s still time to find out.  There are two remaining 2015 Water Laboratory Alliance Tabletop Exercise Webcasts.  You are invited to register today.

DATES:            April 15 and May 14, 2015

TIMES:             Both from 10:00AM – Noon (eastern)

REGISTER:      http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/wla/training.cfm.

These webcasts are hosted EPA and examine the coordination of laboratory services in response to a drinking water contamination incident. The scenario-based exercises provide utilities, state and local governments, emergency responders and laboratory personnel with the opportunity to answer questions based on their real-life experiences and knowledge of emergency response practices and procedures contained in the Water Laboratory Alliance Response Plan (WLA-RP). Exercise participants will receive first-hand experience with Water Sector emergency response “best practices” and water security tools and resources.

Please forward this email to any of your colleagues or other Response Partners that you feel would benefit from this training exercise.

Over 350 people participated in the first twelve webcasts of this series conducted between March 2014 and March 2015. The following is some of the feedback we have received:

     State Drinking Water Agency Participant: “We like the way that the exercise was conducted.  …it was interactive, we could see the responses, and it was the perfect length of time.”

     Water Utility Participant: “This is one of the best webinars I’ve ever participated in. The additional resources were great.”

     Water Utility Participant: “We learned a great deal during the course of this scenario. The step-by-step question and answer process was very helpful.”

     Water Utility Participant: “Very helpful, great participation from attendees.”

     Laboratory Participant: “Very good exercise. A fun way to spend a couple hours!”

 

What’s New with CRWU…

Our colleagues at EPA’s Water Security Division are providing updates for information found under the Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) umbrella…

Updated Adaptation Strategies Guide:

The 2015 Adaptation Strategies Guide introduces climate change and adaptation planning to water sector utilities by outlining climate challenges based on type and geographic region.  The guide provides suggested adaptation strategies for system impacts associated with climate change challenges of drought, water quality degradation, ecosystem changes and changes in service demand and use.  Each challenge description contains relevant adaptation resources and case study examples demonstrating how other utilities to those impacts.  New features of the 2015 edition include:

  • Information based on updated models data from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) 2014 Report
  • Sustainability briefs addressing green infrastructure, energy management, and water demand management
  • Updated water utility climate adaptation case studies

For best results navigating this “clickable” PDF, download the file onto your computer and open it in Adobe Reader or another PDF viewer program.  Explore the 2015 Adaptation Strategies Guide now on EPA’s website.

Storm Surge Inundation and Hurricane Strike Frequency Map:

EPA has developed a web-based interactive map of the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that illustrates current worst-case scenario coastal storm surge extent and historical hurricane strike frequency.  The map combines data from:

  • FEMA 100 and 500 year flood maps
  • NOAA’s Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) maps
  • The NOAA National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) Hurricane Strike Dataset

With this map, users can easily zoom in on their location of interest to see if:

  • They lie within a FEMA flood plain
  • How they may be affected by coastal storm surge in the event of a hurricane
  • The historical frequency and strength of hurricane strikes at their location

Explore the Storm Surge Inundation and Hurricane Strike Frequency Map now on EPA’s website.

Extreme Events and Climate Adaptation Training Workshops for Utilities & Technical Assistance Providers:

EPA, in partnership with water sector associations, is offering a series of 8 workshops for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities and technical assistance providers that focus on understanding and adapting to challenges from extreme events, featuring training on the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT). These interactive, two-day workshops will have hands-on technical training sessions using CREAT as well as panel discussions on funding and implementation for adaptation strategies.

Utility Training Workshops:

  • Los Angeles, CA on April 1st& 2nd
  • Santa Fe, NM on June 3rd& 4th
  • Portland, OR on June 23rd& 24th
  • Des Moines, IA on July 14th& 15th

Train-the-Trainer Workshops:

  • Miami, FL on June 16th& 17th
  • Houston, TX on June 22 & 23rd
  • Mobile, AL on June 25th& 26th
  • Long Island, NY on July 21st& 22nd

 

For information on registration and logistics for the Utility Training Workshops, please visit the Utility Training Workshop registration page. For more information on the Train-the-Trainer Workshops, please visit the Train-the-Trainer Workshop registration page or contact Laura Dubin at Dubin.Laura@epa.gov.

For more information on CRWU efforts, please visit us at:  www.epa.gov/climatereadyutilities

For any help, feedback or questions, please contact us at CRWUhelp@epa.gov

Check It Out – Water Utility Response On-the-Go Mobile Website

EPA has launched the Water Utility Response On-The-Go mobile website, an innovative tool that consolidates, and makes accessible from the field, information and tools that water utility operators and their response partners may need during an emergency.

The site allows users to: identify and contact emergency response partners; monitor local and national severe weather conditions; review and complete incident-specific checklists; and populate, save and email both generic damage assessment forms and FEMA incident command system forms.   You can download the Water Utility Response On-the-Go Mobile Website at epa.gov/responseotg .

For more information/questions about this tool, please contact Bailey Kennett (202-566-1344) or Brian Pickard (202-564-0827).

Are You Familiar with WCIT?

EPA’s Water Security Division is hosting a series of hour-long web trainings on WCIT – the Water Contaminant Information Tool – designed both for the new user and users who would like a quick refresher on how it works.  There are numerous training dates between now and June 30.

For those not familiar with WCIT, it is “…a secure on-line database with comprehensive information about chemical, biological and radiochemical contaminants of concern for the Water Sector. WCIT compiles drinking water- and wastewater-specific data in a one-stop, easy-to-use tool.”

So, bring your phone and your computer and learn about:

  • A comprehensive WCIT overview
  • The information WCIT contains
  • How the tool can be used
  • The benefits of use for different stakeholders

You will also receive include step-by-step instructions for tool functions such as contaminant search, finding and accessing field and confirmatory methods, generating public information reports and several other functions. The course will be limited to twenty participants per training, so sign up for your preferred date today.  Just click this link Register at U.S. EPA.

 

Still need help?  Send your question or request to WCIT@epa.gov

Want to Work in Climate Change?

EPA has just announced a new position opening in the Water Security Division’s Threats Analysis, Prevention and Preparedness (TAPP) Branch in Washington, DC.

Interested candidates need to know that the closing date for applications is Wednesday, March 25.

In this position, you will:

  • Work closely with sector partners and climate science subject matter experts to identify areas in which climate information can be used to develop tools and resources for water utility decision-making and planning.
  • Prepare and manage technical-policy analyses and assessments of key issues pertaining to climate change impacts and risk outcomes. These projects will involve technical and policy evaluation and analysis and may require inter-office or inter-Agency collaboration.
  • Perform the function of a liaison between EPA and drinking water, wastewater and storm-water stakeholders. The liaison activities assist to enhance the climate readiness and resilience of the water sector.

The position title is Physical Scientist and the Federal pay grade level is GS 13.

To apply, click this link https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/397227500 by the closing date and follow the vacancy announcement instructions for providing any applicable supplemental information.  This position is open to any qualified US Citizen.

This web link http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/index.cfm provides additional information about the Water Security Division’s TAPP Branch.

WLA Tabletop Exercise Webcast Opportunities

EPA’s Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA) will be conducting three additional WLA TTX Webcasts between March and May 2015.  The webcasts will examine the coordination of laboratory services in response to a drinking water contamination incident.

To participate, click the registration link and select one of the three dates and times listed below to select your preferred date and time.

REGISTER:  http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/wla/training.cfm

DATES & TIMES:

  • March 11 from 1:00-3:00 (eastern)
  • April 15 from 10:00AM-Noon (eastern)
  • May 14 from 10:00AM-Noon (eastern)

These scenario-based exercises provide utilities, state and local governments, emergency responders and laboratory personnel with the opportunity to answer questions based on their real-life experiences and knowledge of emergency response practices and procedures contained in the Water Laboratory Alliance Response Plan (WLA-RP). Exercise participants will receive first-hand experience with Water Sector emergency response “best practices” and water security tools and resources.