U.S. Water News Online
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.
The district recently completed a study to bolster its security
for the Olympics, but now officials wonder whether the new measures
will be enough.
``We were all thinking that we'd probably be okay 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
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, increase patrols of all facilities, and weld manhole covers
shut to prevent tampering.
Salt Lake City, whose drinking water system serves about 400,000
people, also has studied its water security and plans to take similar
measures, said Jeff Niermeyer, deputy director of public works.
The idea behind the security measures is to keep terrorists from
introducing contaminants into water supply components such as
reservoirs, streams, water treatment plants, and pipelines.
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