Homeland Security forum response

John Hall

The city of Columbus, Georgia gets its drinking water from the Chattahoochee River, which, coincidentally, is also were many of the cities north of Columbus, such as Atlanta, get their water.  Along with providing drinking water, the Chattahoochee River is where the effluent, or liquid sewage waste which has been treated and determined to be sufficiently safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, is returned to once treatment is complete.

The Water and Wastewater Sector-Specific Plan governs how drinking water and wastewater is handled in the U.S.  Life can’t exist on Earth without water, and for humans, the level of cleanliness of the water also affects health.  Many dangerous pathogens are carried by water, which means that water can be both the giver and taker of life.  For this reason, water has its own sector within the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) of the nation (Department of Homeland Security, 2015, para 1).

There are many naturally occurring pathogens in water such as E. coli, Hepatitis A, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, Giardia, and Legionella (Centers for disease Control and Prevention, 2014, para 4).  There are others which are much worse, such as cholera, typhoid, malaria, and polio.  Additionally, since water tends to be in the low ground, runoff from farmlands can find its way into public water sources.  In many cases, this runoff carries excess nitrogen and other chemicals from fertilizer, as well as fecal matter from livestock.

The fact that water ranks so high on the list of requirements for life, yet also has the potential to be so deadly if not properly treated, provides a notable opportunity for terrorists.  Most of America’s major water sources are open to the public, which means they are also open to terrorists who are bent on destruction.  It’s reasons such as this that water and wastewater are listed as critical infrastructure, and as such, has its own sector-specific plan (Department of Homeland Security, 2016, 1).

Columbus Water Works, which is the water provider for the majority of the city of Columbus, has numerous points along the Chattahoochee River where water is drawn from (intake plants), and subsequently treated, to support more than 65,000 homes every day (Columbus Water Works, 2017, para 1).  Farther down-stream is several points where treated effluent is placed back in the river, where it travels on to be picked up by several other water facilities, before the Chattahoochee runs in to the Apalachicola River, and from there out into Apalachicola Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico.  Treatment of the water and the infrastructure required to provide that water to the homes and businesses of Columbus is crucial to the livelihoods of the citizens in the area.  Further, treating the wastewater to ensure that it is safe to return to the river protects the people downstream.  This regulated treatment of both water and wastewater, as well as focusing on testing and delivery infrastructure are a part of the critical elements of ensuring the safety and security of the local people for many generations to come.

 

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Water-related Diseases and Contaminants in Public Water Systems. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/public/water_diseases.html.

Columbus Water Works. (2017). Water Treatment. Retrieved from http://www.cwwga.org/plaintext/departments/watertreatment.aspx.

Department of Homeland Security. (2015). Water and Wastewater Systems Sector-Specific Plan. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/nipp-ssp-water-2015-508.pdf.

Department of Homeland Security. (2016). National Infrastructure Protection Plan. Retrieved from https://www.dhs.gov/national-infrastructure-protection-plan.

 

Floyd DeWitt

Where i live there is no transportation. Its either you drive or ride in a taxi cab, but those are hard to come by as well.   Using the state of Maryland as a whole it appears there Transportation Systems Sector Specific Plan (TSS-SP) is well thought out when it comes to consideration of critical infrastructures in the local area.  According to the Maryland TSS-SP “Provide transportation (including infrastructure access and accessible transportation services) for response priority objectives, including the evacuation of people and animals, and the delivery of vital response personnel, equipment, and services to the affected areas.”  (Maryland, 2014). This is one of the first priorities as a capability target area for response. Maryland is looking to ensure “Stabilize critical infrastructure functions, minimize health and safety threats, and efficiently restore and revitalize systems and services to support a viable, resilient community” (2014).  Emergency liaisons such as state agencies responsible for assisting will assist State agency partners in the identification of critical infrastructure and facilities that house vulnerable populations, which are in need of priority utility restoration. Conduct community wide debris removal, including clearing of primary transportation routes. During the first 72 hours of an incident, establish physical access through appropriate transportation corridors and deliver required resources in an effort to save lives and to meet the needs of disaster survivors.  “Communicate 100% impacts to air, rail, transit, ports, toll facilities, and highway transportation infrastructure systems with the appropriate agency or office” (2014).  RITIS – Regional Integrated Transportation Information System. Traffic situational awareness provided by the University of Maryland CATT Lab. This system aggregates multiple sources of traffic information systems including MDOT (Maryland Department of Trans).  During emergency events the state of Maryland rely soley on the help of state staffed agencies to include local law enforcement, medical and fire.

 

Hession, K. (2014, February 19). Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). Retrieved April 04, 2017, from http://mema.maryland.gov/

US Census Bureau. OnTheMap Application and 2010 LEHD Origin-Destination Employment Statistics. http://lehd.did.census.gov/led/datatools/onthemap.html.