“Can you talk about asset management as a part of your operating security system? How much security is enough in today’s risk management world?”
I am assuming they’re talking about the security in terms of security of tanks from people breaking in to the fence or you know security from that stand point of people doing bad things to your water utility.
Someone maybe is wanting to put something in the water that shouldn’t be there or breaking in into your pump station or something like that.
So I’m going to assume that that’s the kind of security they’re talking about. And it’s a little bit of a difficult question to answer because it makes a big difference where you are in the country as to what your risk is actually going to be.
We have to be a little bit careful that we don’t go so far overboard trying to see the risk of somebody doing something bad to our utility is worth tremendous costs when we’re ignoring things that might be far more risky to us.
So as an example, we worry a lot about somebody breaking into our water utility and adding a chemical that shouldn’t be there.
So maybe (somebody) going into your tank and cutting the lock on the hatch and dumping something into the water tank or hooking into a fire hydrant and overcoming back pressure and putting something in that way or maybe even through the house, you know overcoming back pressure and going backwards into the system.
But then we have a situation in West Virginia, about a year or two years ago where there was a spill of a chemical from the storage tank that you know overflowed its containment basin and got into the river and contaminated the water supply.
And that was a very real risk that could have been easily identified and we didn’t take proper precautions there to address that kind of risk. Whereas, many utilities are spending a lot of time figuring out how to get more fencing, more locks, more TV cameras, security and that type of thing.
So I think sometimes we go a little bit overboard looking at risks that are perceived to maybe happen sometime and we ignore the risks that are right there in front of us that can be far greater risks.
Like the individual who wrote in about the tank that has the holes with potential bird droppings, that’s a very very serious risk of public health concern that deserves a lot of attention.
We want to make sure that we’re not spending tremendous time, money and resources on a risk that maybe isn’t all that high of a potential risk and ignoring the risk like the public health concern.
So we have to balance. It’s not like we don’t want to be protective. We want to put our fences up.
We want to keep our facilities as secure as possible but we don’t want to go so far overboard that we spend lots of time, money and effort on some security risks without worrying about the real risks that are right in front of us.
PHOTO CREDIT: Keegan Boucek via Flickr Creative Commons License. The photo has been cropped to fit website requirement.