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Part II Project Evaluation
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A Review of the EPA Water Security Research and Technical Support Action Plan: Part 2. Project Evaluation Pane] on Water System Secunty Research Water Science ant! Technology Board Division on Earth ant! Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAl ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Executive Summary In the United States there is a new heightener! concern regarding the vuInerabilities of critical infrastructures, including the public water systems, to a deliberate terrorist attack, and the potential consequences. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) holds lead responsibility for protecting the nation's water systems ant! is currently working with other federal, state, and local government agencies, water and wastewater utilities, and professional associations to improve water security. To support these responsibilities, the EPA developed the Water Security Research and Technical Support Action Plan (Action Plan), which identifies security issues for drinking water and wastewater, outlines research and technical support needs within these issues, and presents a prioritized list of projects to address these needs. The National Research Council (NRC) was tasked to review the Action Plan. The NRC's Water Science and Technology Board organized the Pane] on Water System Security Research to undertake this project. This report focuses specifically on the panel's Statement of Task questions #2 and #3, listed in bold below: Has the Action Plan completely and accurately identified important issues and needs in the water security arena? If not, what issues and needs should be added or removed? 2. Are the needs appropriately sequenced within the issues? If not, what adjustments are warranted and why? 3. Are the projects recommended for funding in the Action Plan appropriate to meet the water security needs? Are the projects correctly prioritized and sequenced? Is the timing of the projects, as identified in the Action Plan appendix, realistic? If not, what adjustments are warranted and why? 55
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56 A Review of the EPA Water Security Action Plan 4. Overall, what changes to the Action Plan are recommended to improve its presentation in terms of content and structure so as to more clearly convey the water security research and technical support program that is described? A review of the water security issues and needs presented in the Action Plan (tasks #1 and #4) was provided in the panel s first report (See Part I). ORGANIZING PRINICIPLES FOR WATER SECURITY Prioritization is needed for the EPA to meet urgent needs for water security while simultaneously preserving a longer-term research strategy and remaining mindful of the agency s other essential tasks that contribute to public health and security. The basic organizing principles of the EPA water security research and technical support agenda should be to emphasize a continuing increase in the effectiveness and efficiency of our response and recovery capacity while identifying cost-effective preventive or mitigative countermeasures based on an understanding of the nature and likelihood of potential threats. Accordingly, the information needed to respond to a water system security event should be gathered and made available to those who might need it at every step—not just the final step. The ability to responc! will be a process of successive approximations that will improve as information and methods improve. Key tasks that have relatively quick and immediate value should be given higher priority over longer-term projects that, while worthwhile, compete for human and financial resources. In support of these organizing principles for water security, the EPA should: · Develop and implement a specific management plan within the agency for the water security effort that includes adequate continuing resources and effective, stable leadership. . · Mine existing data for pertinent information and assemble it in an accessible and immediately useable form. Develop effective information transfer and two-way communication at the first stage of project planning. Prepare research and technical support results for broad dissemination at the project level. · Develop continually evolving guidance and integrated response protocols for utilities and responders in case of a water security emergency. Determine the value of water security measures. Consider the funding constraints of the end users in the development and prioritization of the research and technical support efforts. REVIEW OF PROJECTS IDENTIFIED IN THE ACTION PLAN The Action Plan identifies a lengthy and substantive list of research and technical support projects that, if completed, would support and advance water-security related prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery activities (see Boxes 3-1 through 3-8 for complete project listings). In the pane! s first report (see Part A, the general drinking water and wastewater security needs were evaluated. Chapter 3 of this report presents an
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Executive Summary 57 evaluation of the research and technical support projects identified in the Action Plan to meet those water security needs. Because further development of wastewater research priorities is underway at the EPA, this review focuses primarily on the projects to support drinking water security needs, with some evaluation of wastewater projects currently underway. The following summarizes the recommenctect changes In emphasis, prioritization, and timing suggested for the research and technical support projects identified in the Action Plan as well as additional proposed projects. A chart highlighting suggested revisions to the project time lines (including additional recommended projects) · . - · . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .. . .. ~7 is provided in Appendix A. Drinking Water The projects identified to support the protection of physical and cyber infrastructure are appropriate to address the needs identified in the Action Plan (section 3.1), but some revisions are suggested. Overall, the projects identified to support consequence analysis (3.1.b) need additional refinement to clarify their contribution to the current state of knowledge. Refinement of the vulnerability assessment methodologies (3.1.a.4) should be compressed and postponed until the end of the Action Plan life span so that information resulting from other projects can be incorporated in this analysis. Additional projects are proposed in support of a fourth need recommended in the panel s first report (see Part I) to assess the costs and benefits of countermeasures. These additional projects are of high priority and should be initiated as soon as possible and sequenced appropriately with the identification of countermeasures. The prioritization and sequencing of the research projects to meet the needs for contaminant identification (Action Plan section 3.2) are all considered appropriate, but recommendations are made to strengthen the projects and focus the EPA on activities that will provide useful results in a timely manner. In the development of the contaminant database (3.2.b), the EPA should identify the most relevant criteria to be included in the database and focus initial data gathering on the highest priority information needed for response efforts. Where feasible, similar contaminants could be grouped into categories, thereby minimizing the time and effort required to produce a useful database. Information for the database should first be sought from existing sources, and the EPA will need to coordinate with other agencies to fill the remaining critical information gaps in a longer-term research effort. The scope of the simulant database shouIc! be narrowed to better address the potential applications for this effort, and guidance should be developed on the appropriate use of simulants. The EPA should also consider additional methods to improve accessibility of its databases and carefully evaluate current restrictions on information access. Although the prioritization of the contaminant monitoring and analysis projects (Action Plan section 3.3) is reasonable to meet the needs, recommendations are offered to improve the projects, and several additional projects are suggested. The analytical response protocol is an essential task in the Action Plan that should be integrated with other proposed response protocols and carefully coordinated with related projects. More emphasis should be given to quality assurance/quality control measures in the projects concerning methods development, considering the potential impact of false positives and false negatives. Related monitoring projects should be closely coordinated with the Early Warning System projects so that monitoring technologies can be evaluated in that context. A project should be developed to explicitly address sampling protocols for water security threat scenarios, and additional research is needed to examine the spatial and
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58 A Review of the EPA Water Security Action Plan temporal sampling requirements for water security events. Issues of liability and geographic distribution of laboratories also need to be addressed. It is clear that some of the projects (e.g., 3.3.b.1 and 3.3.b.5) will not be completed within the three-year time frame of the Action Plan and may require large financial resources to conduct as described. Many of the projects proposec! to address the needs of containment, treatment, decontamination, and disposal (Action Plan section 3.4) are central to building an improved recovery capacity. The two sets of response protocols (3.4.b.1 and 3.4.d[.1) represent high priority projects and should begin as soon as possible. Early versions of the protocols may require estimates to fill information gaps, but the refinement of response protocols should be. considered a continuous effort that proceeds through successive improvements. Coordination with the other response protocols identified in the Action Plan and the many other projects which provide the data that inform the protocols will be essential. The development of a treatment technology document database (oroiect 3.4.c.~) should be advanced in time to provide treatment Guidance as N1 _' ~ ~ ~ quickly as possible. Two additional projects are also recommended to support the need for improved distribution system models: the EPA should conduct a survey of the use of hydraulic models at water utilities, and additional long-term research is needed to further enhance the capabilities of distribution system models. Several recommendations are provided to focus the projects on more reasonable near-term goals and to clarify longer- term research objectives. The research projects to meet the drinking water security needs regarding contingency planning and infrastructure interdepenclencies (Action Plan section 3.5) are appropriate in their prioritization, timing, and sequencing. Recommendations are offered to improve the projects, and one additional project is suggested. A review of the appropriate role and responsibility of customers in preparing for water system emergencies should be included in the contingency analyses. An analysis of recently developed water supply technologies should include an assessment of the reliability of the technologies, ant! the information should be made available as soon as is feasible. The projects to assess the interdependencies with other infrastructure should utilize lessons learned from various case studies before evaluating potential contingency responses, and the benefits and risks of disaggregation or decentralization should also be considered. In support of the additional research need recommended in the panel's first report (see Part I), the Action Plan should develop a project to evaluate impacts from failure of the "human subsystem" and whether there are potential contingencies for such occurrences. Several recommendations are made to enhance or expand on the projects identified to improve the understanding of contamination-related health effects, develop or refine a risk management framework, and enhance risk communication (Action Plan section 3.6~. The project to generate an operating procedure for risk assessment and risk management for water security is essential to decision making and should be accelerated and coordinated with other response protocols in the Action Plan (3.3.a. 1-2, 3.4.b. 1, 3.4.d(. 1J. Analyses of acute and chronic health effects and quantitative assessments of potential exposure should build on existing knowledge in order to provide initial and timely guidance to utilities and responders. A review of predictive methodologies to assess toxicology values in absence of experimental data should be accelerated to illuminate gaps where additional method development work is needed and to clearly define the limitations of these methods. In the area of risk communication, EPA should emphasize research that reviews and refines existing communication strategies and explores how
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Executive Summary 59 tools can be used more effectively, instead of only emphasizing tool development. A two-phasecl effort is recommended to support the needs of water security: first, focusing on selecting and refining a risk communication strategy, and second, addressing the development, testing, and distribution of communication tools. Recommendations are provided to assist the EPA in planning and implementing an active disease surveillance network. Wastewater Protecting the wastewater systems against attack and precluding the system from being used as an instrument of attack upon other critical infrastructure are both important and deserve attention. Yet, the threats potentially posed by an attack on the wastewater system are different in important ways from those posed by an attack on the drinking water system, and treatment plant disruptions represent less direct risks to human health than drinking water system contamination. Because EPA is currently working with stakeholders to revise project plans for wastewater security, the panel focused its review on those projects identified in the Action Plan (section 4.0) that are currently ongoing or slated to begin in 2003. Generally, these projects are appropriate to meet the most pressing needs for wastewater, focusing primarily on threat assessment, determination of countermeasures, en c! access control. However, the project to assess technologies for identifying physical threats and contaminant introduction should be delayed until vulnerability assessments and threat assessments have been conducted for wastewater infrastructure, so that the importance of contaminant detection for wastewater security can be evaluated relative to other proposeci wastewater projects. Several additional topics are suggested where further research is needed, including management and disposal of contaminated waste and sludge and the adequacy of plant worker protection to prevent harm during potential water security attacks. Implementation Implementation of the Action Plan involves communicating and disseminating results, continually assessing ongoing work and emerging needs in the area of water security, building and sustaining collaborative relationships with other water security researchers and organizations, determining and articulating the roles and responsibilities of other organizations and federal agencies conducting the work identified in the Action Plan, and identifying and securing the fun(ling necessary to support the identified projects. Overall, the projects identified in the draft Implementation Plan will make valuable contributions to the implementation effort, with the following suggested improvements. Effective and broad collaboration with other water security experts is essential to the , ~ . , An, . - · . · . . - . . . . · ~ success of the Action Plan. the distribution system consortium should be expanded beyond "several federal agencies and AwwaRF" to include expert researchers, consultants, utilities, and national laboratories. Several projects involve verification of emerging water-security technologies; these should be selected using cost-benefit analyses. For projects 5.2.a.2-3, Environmental Technology Verification funds should be awarded selectively to technologies that are broadly applicable to classes of chemicals/microbes or that are specific to high-risk, likely threat agents. The subsidization should be provided for essential devices that would not otherwise be tested because they have very limited commercial potential.
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60 ~1 Review of the EPA Water Security Action Plan Developing an effective broad communication strategy that meets the needs of the wide range of stakeholders, including response organizations, water organizations and utilities, public health agencies, and the media, while addressing security concerns, should be among the highest priorities for the EPA. The projects identified in the draft implementation plan are appropriately prioritized, although some additional components and separate projects are suggested to strengthen the communication efforts. The project on how to get the right information to the right people at the right time should be among the highest priority efforts of the entire Action Plan. Several additional projects are suggested, including an analysis of the consequences of various levels of information security, an assessment of the benefits and limitations of existing methods of dissemination (e.g., web pages, the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center), and research on means to utilize pertinent information from the community.
Representative terms from entire chapter: