The Senate Budget Committee has advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman to improve the safety of New Jersey’s drinking water by holding public water systems accountable for making improvements and inspections.
In order to protect consumers from unsafe drinking water, Sen. Kip Bateman’s bill would require all public water systems to establish a cyber-security program and a plan for making infrastructure improvements and inspections. (Pixabay)
“Cyber-attacks on public utilities have already happened in other parts of the country. We cannot let it happen in New Jersey,” Senator Bateman (R-16) said. “A well-organized attack has the potential to deprive countless families of water within minutes. Requiring action plans to identify vulnerabilities and respond to an attack if it happens will ensure all utilities are equipped to address 21st century threats.”
S-2834, which will be known as the “Water Quality Accountability Act,” would require all public water systems to establish a cyber-security program, as well as an asset management plan designed to inspect, maintain, and repair water infrastructure.
Currently, the cybersecurity requirements and standards outlined in the bill only apply to public water systems that are regulated by the Board of Public Utilities. S-2834 would extend those requirements to all public water systems.
Under the bill, a public water system would have 120 days following enactment to develop a cybersecurity program in accordance with requirements established by BPU. As part of the program, the public water system must conduct regular risk assessments, maintain situational awareness of cyber threats and vulnerabilities to the public water system, and create and exercise incident response and recovery plans.
As part of a multifaceted legislative effort to improve New Jersey’s water infrastructure, S-2834 would give all public water systems one year to implement a plan designed to ensure its infrastructure consistent with industry standard best practices.
This plan must include a water supply and treatment program designed to inspect, maintain, repair, renew, and upgrade wells, intakes, pumps, and treatment facilities in accordance with all federal and State regulations, industry standards, and any mitigation plan that may be required pursuant to the bill. The bill would also establish specific safety standards for testing fire hydrants.
“As many 4.5 million people in New Jersey rely on suppliers that have broken federal rules meant to keep contaminants out of our water. That is unacceptable,” Senator Bateman added. “All public water systems must be held accountable for making water infrastructure inspections and improvements. We simply cannot take chances when it comes to protecting the health and safety of our residents.”
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