Drinking Water Systems

September 26, 2001


Drinking water sources, purification, and distribution systems are essential to public health, and failures could be catastrophic. Undoubtedly, U.S. systems are as safe as any in the world. But cholera, typhoid, and other enteric diseases once killed thousands in this country and still kill millions abroad. The introduction of harmful chemical, biological, or radiological agents into public water supply systems could be disastrous -- whether caused by natural events, terrorism, or human error. What tests does your local system do that could help screen for trouble? Which contaminants could pass through your system and which could not? How tight is the physical security around your system's sources, plant, and distribution system? How safely are chlorine and other chemicals managed?

  • American Water Works Association: Jack W. Hoffbuhr (Exec. Director), 303-347-6135; or Doug Marsano (Public Affairs), 303-734-6138.Web resource. Includes threat identification checklist and list of state emergency and counter-terrorism contacts. The May 2001 issue of Journal AWWA had emergency preparedness recommendations for communities.
  • Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies: AMWA holds its annual meeting Oct. 28-31, 2001, in San Francisco. Michael Arceneaux (Dir. Pub. Affairs), 202-331-2820.