Water Sector Coordinating Council Discusses Strategy for Cybersecurity and Critical Lifeline Status of Sector

(November 20, 2019) – The Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC) met on November 13 to discuss security and other related issues that are impacting the water sector, and also met with the Water Government Coordinating Council (GCC) the following day. 

The WSCC is a policy, strategy and coordination mechanism for the US Water and Wastewater Systems Sector in interactions with the government and other sectors on critical infrastructure security and resilience issues. The WSCC coordinates and collaborates with the EPA, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), state primacy administrators and other government agencies primarily through the GCC. 

During both meetings, cybersecurity was a major topic of discussion.  Representatives from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provided an update on activities and participated in a discussion on how cybersecurity of drinking water and wastewater utilities could be improved. 

The status of the water sector during natural disasters and other emergencies was also discussed during both meetings.  The National Response Framework provides the guiding principles, roles and responsibilities, and coordinating structures for responding to natural disasters and other emergencies.  Despite the necessity of a safe and functioning water supply for both drinking water and fire suppression, along with the need for appropriate wastewater treatment to protect public health, the water sector does not have its own Emergency Support Function (ESF) Annex, as most other critical infrastructure sectors have.  The WSCC and many of its partners in the GCC believe that disaster responses could be better coordinated for the water sector if it was recognized as a lifeline sector. 

NACWA’s representatives on the WSCC are Talyon Sortor, Assistant General Manager of the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, and Karen Pallansch, Chief Executive Officer of Alexandria Renew Enterprises.  Members with questions about the WSCC can contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.