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Water Infrastructure Resilience
 
 
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Federal agencies consider water systems as one of the nation’s top critical infrastructures. Living in a world where cyber intrusions are increasingly common in our personal and professional lives, the threat to water infrastructure is both real and serious. Given the essential nature of water service, it’s well known that water infrastructure – and water treatment plants of all sizes - are potential targets of people with bad intentions. So this critical infrastructure requires increased protection and the ability of water providers to detect, respond to, and recover from physical and cyberattacks.

While reports of cyber water attacks across the nation are unsettling, there are a few takeaways that should bring comfort. First, there have been reports of hackers being able to gain access to applications across the nation, however, in many cases, vigilant water operators have thwarted any potential harm. There’s no clearer demonstration that water professionals are essential workers, and the work they do each day protects us all.

Second, the water sector has been actively addressing cybersecurity issues for many years. In fact, in 2018 America’s Water Infrastructure Act requires utilities to complete a risk and resiliency assessment that must include cyber threats to enterprise systems and process control systems. This analysis is reported to the EPA and covers both the aforementioned risk and resiliency assessment along with an Emergency Response Plan.

Third, utilities are not powerless against cyber threats. There are many resources available to help defend against cyber intrusions. Adopting the best hardware and software solutions available, observing industry best practices, and investing in the people who administer them are all fundamental in protecting the community’s water supply.



The BRWA's Mission​

The BRWA’s mission to the community is to provide high-quality water and wastewater services. To do this, we hold high standards, many of which lead back to ensuring our water treatment process is secure through its information technology systems, its physical security measures, and licensed operators on site. We are continuously exploring additional safeguards to bolster our security measures and can assure the community that their safety is of the utmost importance. We have numerous physical security measures accompanied by digital security programs to protect the BRWA’s data and water system.

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Current Security Measures


01 Technology

We have a sophisticated network system in place with firewalls to protect the network and data files.


02 Physical Spaces

We have alarm systems at all of our facilities accompanied by advanced key systems to prevent unauthorized access. Video surveillance systems are also utilized to monitor and record the actions at all facilities.


03 Treatment Process

The Smith Mountain Lake Water Treatment Facility utilizes a state-of-the-art treatment process that relies primarily on physical (not chemical) treatment whereby membranes are utilized to clean the water; this means large volumes of chemicals are not used for water treatment at this facility. 


04 Highly Trained Staff

We also have licensed water and wastewater operators working at each of our facilities; these operators pass rigorous testing to receive their licenses. The licenses also require continuing education credits, ensuring that staff is properly trained year after year. These operators are also experts on how to respond to emergencies and could act quickly if the need ever arises.


05 Redundancy

We also have access to three water treatment facilities that treat water from multiple water sources. In the case of an emergency, any affected source can be quickly removed from the treatment process and the other source(s) can be utilized to ensure continuity and safety to the customers.


06 Personal Data

We also protect customers' personal data​ by employing multiple physical and cloud-based protocols.


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Final Words

The BRWA believes that it is critically important to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, so as to best protect public health. While incidents are continually reported, we view them as a constant reminder of the importance of round-the-clock cybersecurity vigilance. The cybersecurity landscape is changing rapidly as threats and technology continue to evolve, but rest assured that the BRWA continues to make cybersecurity a top priority.

Bedford Regional Water Authority
1723 Falling Creek Road • Bedford • VA 24523
540.586.7679

Water Infrastructure Resilience