Water systems not protected against attacks

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Water systems not protected against attacks

Sun, Sep 23, 2001

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah"s water systems are vulnerable to sabotage, those familiar with the state"s drinking water say.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has heightened fears about safety during the upcoming Winter Olympics.

"If these (terrorists) are as smart as we assume they are, there are opportunities for them to gain access to water systems and cause problems. I don"t think anyone can control it at this point," said Kevin Carter, director of the Utah Division of Water Quality.

There are about 500 water systems in the state which serve 85 percent of the population.

"If someone desperately wanted to do something (to the water), I don"t know what you could do to stop them," said David Ovard, general manager of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, which supplies an average of 70 million gallons of drinking water to more than half a million people in Salt Lake County.

"We were all thinking that we"d probably be OK during the Olympics, and then this (Sept. 11 attack) happened and caused us to realize we can"t be too careful," said David Ovard, Jordan Valley"s general manager.

Jordan Valley -- whose system includes a 180-million-gallon-per-day water treatment plant and a 1 million gallon treated-water reservoir -- plans to spend more than $230,000 on additional fencing, locks and electronic surveillance equipment before the Olympics.

The district also plans to close the water treatment plant to tours.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 23, 2001


Water plants tighten security

Area stores haven't seen any waves of panic buying in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, though water plants have tightened security.

By ATHENA D. MERRITT Courier Times E-mail

Mention snow and residents in Bucks County head to grocery stores to stockpile. Mention war and most aren't worried - yet.

Area stores said they haven't seen a rush on bottled water or other staples, despite a recent tightening of security at the area's water plants.

Newtown Artesian Water Co., Pennsylvania-American Water Company and Philadelphia Suburban Water Company have taken steps to safeguard the community's water in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We have increased security at our facilities and in our water quality testing, but it is not in response to any specific threat we received," said Jennifer Cathers, communications specialist at Philadelphia Suburban Water Co.

Cathers declined to comment on specific measures, as did officials at Pennsylvania-American Water Co. In a press release, PAWC said its large raw water supplies, stored in reservoirs and flowing in streams, would dilute any contaminants that might be added directly at the plant. A source water-monitoring program would also detect contaminants, which usually change the color, taste, odor or appearance of water. In addition, PAWC officials said they are "maintaining regular communication with the FBI to obtain updates on the potential threats to public water supplies across the nation."

"No one wants to talk about it, but in the back of their minds everyone is worried about chemical warfare and how easily our water supplies can be poisoned," said Marie Baker of Bensalem, who had bottled water delivered to her home the day after the attacks.

However, at the Genuardi's Family Market in Bensalem, store manager Scott Simmons said, "It's been business as usual" with no signs of panic buying.

The Acme Market in Bensalem, BJ's Wholesale Club in Falls and Shop N Bag in Lower Southampton haven't seen panic buying either.

"I don't want anything to make me feel like I have to change," said Karen Szerlik of Middletown who was stocking up on food items at BJ's for her son at college, but not because of the threat of war.

Some, however, aren't taking chances. Maria, a Newtown Township resident who declined to give her last name, left BJ's with $800 worth of goods. Batteries, paper towels, dry food, medications, juices and a few cases of bottled water were among the items she stockpiled.

"I think we have to prepare for anything," said Maria, whose family lived for a month on rice and beans during a war in Nicaragua in 1979. In 1988, her family moved to the United States.

"I thought I was coming to freedom," she said.

Denise D'Emilio of Lower Southampton stockpiled items two days ago. Yesterday she returned to the Shop N Bag in the Trevose section of the township for a few more items for dinner.

"My mother lives with me and she is from the Depression era. She said sugar was hard to get and flour was hard to get. Everything was rationed out," said D'Emilio, who said she heeded her mother's advice to buy extra.

"I'm scared to death. ... I fear for my family," said D'Emilio, about the prospect of war.

Sunday, September 23, 2001


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 23, 2001.

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