Government agencies and water utilities have mechanisms in place for managing a range of emergencies and disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, disease epidemics, and accidental releases of toxic substances into the environment. Yet the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States raise an issue: What is the response protocol to an event, such as terrorism, sabotage, arson, and cyber attacks, that is so rare and damaging it outstrips preparations, plans, and social and material resources? Some argue that conventional emergency planning and management are insufficient to protect water utilities from the nature of threats in the post-9/11 era.

Key findings emerged from the research with practical implications for how water utilities should develop and update emergency response plans. These findings should lend a sense of urgency to utilities' paper plans and inspire more realistic approaches to emergency preparedness and response. A kit of tools was developed to help utilities assess their existing plans and security programs.

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Charles Herrick

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