AMWA supports legislation to spur WaterISAC participation 

The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) this week announced its support for a bicameral bill that it said would encourage and support the participation of drinking water and wastewater systems in the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC).

The Water System Threat Preparedness and Resilience Act of 2023 sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), would authorize a targeted program at EPA to encourage eligible entities to participate in WaterISAC. The program would also allow EPA to offset costs incurred by community water systems and treatment works associated with maintaining or initiating WaterISAC memberships and cooperate with WaterISAC on incident data collection and analysis of threats to the water sector.

AMWA, along with four other water industry associations, wrote to Sen. Markey and Rep. Schakowsky on March 3, 2023, supporting the legislation.

“Whether it is extreme weather events, physical security risks, or cyber threats, the nation’s drinking water and wastewater utilities face a daunting environment,” said AMWA CEO Tom Dobbins. “WaterISAC is a resource that keeps water utility professionals informed about the latest threats and recommended response actions, and the Water System Threat Preparedness and Resilience Act will enable even more utilities to take advantage of this critical service.”

WaterISAC was established in 2002 to collect, analyze, and disseminate actionable threat information to member drinking water and wastewater systems while also offering guidance on risk mitigation tools, best practices, and response actions that contribute to an all-hazards resiliency posture. WaterISAC is one of more than two-dozen sector-specific ISACs operating today, but as an independent non-profit organization, WaterISAC receives no state or federal grant funding and therefore operates as a dues-based subscription service.

“While WaterISAC member utilities currently serve nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population, only about 400 of the nation’s nearly 50,000 community water systems and 16,000 wastewater systems are paying WaterISAC members that enjoy full access to all of the nonprofit’s threat and vulnerability alerts, subject matter expertise, and other information,” said John P. Sullivan, Chief Engineer of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission and Chairman of the WaterISAC Board of Managers. “Increased federal efforts to support WaterISAC participation and increase awareness of the center would help get threat information and best practices into more hands across the country.”

The Water System Threat Preparedness and Resilience Act is based on a new Energy Department program authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 dedicated to “expanding Electricity ISAC participation among the nation’s electric utilities.

AMWA said it applauds Markey and Schakowsky for applying this model to the water sector, and the association said it looks forward to collaborating in support of the legislation.

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