With a system breach that happened at a water treatment facility in Oldsmar, Florida, on Friday, Feb. 5, water utilities across the nation have begun re-examining their current security measures to ensure that the community’s water supply is protected from harmful attacks.

The Bedford Regional Water Authority (BRWA) also is exploring additional safeguards to bolster current security measures and assured the community that their safety is of the utmost importance. The BRWA has numerous physical security measures accompanied by digital security programs to protect the BRWA’s data and water system. 

“What happened in Oldsmar, Florida, is a reality check that all water utilities need to take security seriously,” BRWA stated. “The BRWA is evaluating the security measures that it already has in place, and we are looking at even greater measures for providing an extra layer of security to our system. We have a dedicated staff who take the operation, management and safety of our water systems incredibly seriously. For many of our employees, it is very personal; the water they are treating and protecting goes directly to not only their homes but also to those of their friends and family,” said Brian Key, BRWA executive director. 

BRWA’s mission to the community is to provide high quality water and wastewater services. To do this, the BRWA stated that it holds high standards, many of which lead back to ensuring its water treatment process is secure through its information technology systems, its physical security measures, and licensed operators on site. 

BRWA stated that the current safety measures that are employed include the following: 

1) The BRWA has licensed water and wastewater operators working at each of its facilities; these operators pass rigorous testing to receive their licenses. The licenses also require continuing education credits, ensuring that staff are properly trained year after year. These operators are also experts on how to respond to emergencies and could act quickly if the need ever arises. 

2) The BRWA has a sophisticated network system in place with firewalls to protect the network and data files. 

3) The BRWA has alarm systems at all of its facilities accompanied by advanced key systems to prevent unauthorized access. Video surveillance systems are also utilized to monitor and record the actions at the facilities.

4) The Smith Mountain Lake Water Treatment Facility utilizes a state-of-the-art treatment process that relies primarily on physical (not chemical) treatment whereby membranes are utilized to clean the water; this means large volumes of chemicals are not used for water treatment at this facility.

5) The BRWA has access to three water treatment facilities that treat water from multiple water sources. In the case of an emergency, any affected source can be quickly removed from the treatment process, and the other source(s) can be utilized to ensure continuity of service and safety to the customers.

For more information about the BRWA’s security methods, visit www.brwa.com.

BRWA provides water and wastewater services to the residents and businesses in Bedford County and the Town of Bedford; additionally, the BRWA partners with the Western Virginia Water Authority to serve customers surrounding Smith Mountain Lake in both Bedford and Franklin County. Visit www.brwa.com for further information.

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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