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EPA Helps City of Rochester and Monroe County Reduce Threats to Drinking Water; Mayor Johnson Joins Jane Kenny at Highland Reservoir Event
Release Date: 01/14/2003
|(#03003) New York, N.Y. – Today at the Highland Park Reservoir in Rochester, New York, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny presented checks to Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr. and to the Monroe County Water Authority to fund vulnerability assessments of local drinking water supplies. The grants, for $115,000 and $230,000 respectively, are part of a national program laid out in EPA’s Strategic Plan for Homeland Security that has so far provided nearly $53 million to drinking water systems around the country. The grant program is designed to help systems evaluate their susceptibility to potential threats such as vandalism, sabotage or terrorist attack and identify physical or procedural improvements that will reduce the risk of serious consequences from any such act.
“We live in a time when the word ‘protection’ in EPA’s title has taken on added meaning,” said EPA’s Kenny. “Protecting America’s drinking water supplies from terrorist attack is, today, one of EPA’s most important missions. This money will help ensure that the water Monroe County area families rely on is safe and secure, and is yet another way that EPA protects human health and the environment and promotes a higher quality of life.”
"Ensuring the overall safety of our citizens is certainly one of our top priorities, and the events of September 11 have made it clear that we must be proactive in our efforts to protect our community," said Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr. "We are indeed thankful for this grant from the EPA, which will allow us to take a careful look at the policies and procedures that currently safeguard our reservoirs, and will ultimately allow us to do a much better job of securing our water system, one of our most precious and essential commodities."
“EPA’s grant gives us an important opportunity to protect the health of the hundreds of thousands of customers we serve from those who may seek to harm us,” said John A. Stanwix, Executive Director of the Monroe County Water Authority. “We are extremely pleased with the federal government’s responsiveness to the nation’s water systems’ needs. From drafting specifications, to reaching out to grant applicants and making awards, I have rarely experienced such quick turnaround from a grant program in all my years of government service.”
Both Rochester and Monroe County have hired consultants to perform thorough investigations of their operations and make recommendations for broadened safety procedures and infrastructure improvements. EPA will reimburse the City for up to $115,000 for its study, and Monroe County up to $230,000. Since the County is served by two separate water supply systems, it qualified for two federal drinking water security grants of $115,000 each. Rochester’s water supply system serves 220,000 city residents, while Monroe County’s serves 465,000.
In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, EPA received a 2002 supplemental appropriation from Congress aimed at improving the safety and security of the nation's water supply. Of the nearly $90 million appropriated, EPA has allocated $53 million for security planning at large drinking water utilities – like those in Rochester and Monroe County – that serve more than 100,000 people. Half of all Americans are served by such large systems. The remaining funds are being used to provide training and technical expertise to small and medium-sized drinking water systems that serve fewer than 100,000 people. EPA has granted $2.53 million to 22 drinking water systems in New York State for vulnerability assessments, which must be completed and submitted to EPA by March 31, 2003.