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How to Avoid Tampering at Your Water Utility

Recently in Indiana, three youths were found tampering with the local water supply. As a result, the town had to purchase and disseminate 330 cases of water to customers to prevent any issues related with the incident. Water tampering can be a costly situation. Avoid water tampering at your utility with these tips:

  • Perform a vulnerability assessment to determine weak points.
  • Restrict access to critical water components to authorized personnel.
  • Lock all gates and access points.
  • When possible, surround components with fencing.
  • Secure all windows, doors, and access hatches with locks.
  • Consider cameras for areas surrounding your critical components.
  • Add lighting to deter tampering.
  • Perform regular checks of systems and remote sites.
  • Posts signs to warn others from entering the grounds of your water facility.
  • Install a security system, if possible.

Taking these measures will drastically decrease the chances of tampering at your water management facility.

Find your water utility�s weak spots with a vulnerability assessment

Before you can know where you need to make changes, you first need to perform a vulnerability assessment to find your weak points. Depending on the size of your utility, this might require different tasks. Here�s an example of a vulnerability assessment for small water utilities from the Rural Water Association of Utah. If you are a larger water utility, this vulnerability assessment from the Rural Community Assistance Corporation might be helpful.

Restrict access to your water utility to avoid tampering

As evidenced by the situation in Indiana, water tampering can simply occur because of easy access and curiosity. Most issues are not the result of conspiracy or malicious intent. But, regardless of intent, water tampering can still be very costly to your water utility. Restricting access to your facility is one simple way to avoid tampering. Require staff to wear an identification badge and clearly post signs that warn of trespassing.

Also, make sure all of your points of entry are locked and secure. This includes any hatches and windows. Making it difficult to enter will deter small-time vandals from seeking entry to the property. If possible, add fencing and signs to clearly mark your utility. If the grounds have fencing, ensure that all gates and access points are locked and checked regularly.

Take extra security measures to prevent tampering at your water utility

If it is in the budget, consider taking some extra security measures to ensure that water tampering does not occur at your utility. Often, additional lighting and cameras are enough to ward off troublemakers.

Consider adding lighting to any areas that house critical water components. Also, you could install motion-detected lighting to help keep costs down.

Cameras are also a good deterrent. If cameras are out of your budget or scope of management, you could add a camera decoy. Often, that�s enough to deter petty vandals. Inexpensive options can be purchased on sites like Amazon.

Install a security system to avoid tampering at your water utility

If you have the backing and budget, you might consider a security system, especially for any remote sites. Installing a security system could be particularly helpful when attempting to secure remote sites. Professional security systems often come equipped with window and door sensors and even camera feeds that will alert you immediately if the facility is breached.

Need to better secure your software? Check out our post for tips on improving security for your SCADA system.

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