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Release Date: 6/7/2002
Contact Information: Bonnie Piper, Press Office, 202/564-7836, Christine Kohn, 916/491-3161

     Funding to be used to safeguard drinking water supplies from terrorist attacks

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave a $115,000 grant to the San Juan Water District in Granite Bay, Calif. today as part of a $53 million effort to help large drinking water utilities across the nation assess their vulnerabilities.  

     EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced a series of national grants today at an event in Maryland.  The other grant recipients were the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in Laurel, Md. ($115,000); the Rend Lake Conservancy District in Benton, Ill. ($96,000); City of Elgin, Ill. ($115,000); City of Naperville, Ill. ($115,000); City of Wilmette, Ill. ($115,000), and the Orlando Utilities Commission in Orlando, Fla. ($115,000).  It is expected that in upcoming weeks, the EPA will give out approximately 400 grants to assist utilities with security planning.

     "Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, the EPA redoubled efforts already underway to promote security at America's drinking water facilities," Whitman said.  "These grants will help ensure that the water people rely on is safe and secure."

     "We're thrilled with the grant," said San Juan Water District General Manager Jim English. "Providing our customers with a safe, reliable water supply is our highest priority. Though the district already has a security and emergency response plan in place, this grant will allow us to take that to the next level without asking our customers to pay for it."

     The San Juan Water District   which serves a retail population of 38,000 in Granite Bay, outside Sacramento, and a wholesale population of 142,000 through Fair Oaks and Citrus Heights water districts and Orange Vale Water Company   will use the grant to assess and address vulnerabilities in the district's water supply infrastructure.

     In response to the attacks of Sept. 11, the EPA received a supplemental appropriation from Congress to improve the safety and security of the nation's water supply.  The nearly $90 million is intended to reduce the vulnerability of water utilities to terrorist attacks and to help enhance their security and ability to respond to emergency situations.

     The EPA has allocated $53 million for security planning at large drinking water utilities.  The large water utilities serve more than 100,000 people each and provide drinking water to about half of Americans served by public water systems.  To date, a total of 384 grant applications have been received.  Each award will be up to $115,000.  Any remaining funds will be directed to other security planning needs.

     In addition to the funding discussed by Whitman today, the EPA has taken numerous steps to work with utilities to protect the nation's water supply.  In October, Whitman formed a Water Protection Task Force.  The agency has since disseminated to America's water utilities useful  information about steps they can take to protect their water sources and physical infrastructure, which includes pumping stations, treatment facilities and computer systems.

     The EPA also worked with Sandia National Labs, a premier research facility on security, to develop training materials for water companies so they can conduct thorough assessments of their vulnerabilities and determine how to minimize them.  Since November of 2001, the effort has provided security training to thousands of drinking water utility managers.

     In cooperation with the FBI, the EPA also has advised local law enforcement agencies across the country of steps they can take to help watch for possible threats to water systems.  The agency also continues to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to improve  understanding of the way the chemical and biological agents of concern act in water and how to best counteract them.

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