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Why we regulate
Learn what types of wastewater discharges are regulated and how
Plan review
The DNR reviews plans for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plant construction
Discharge permits
Wastewater discharges to surface or groundwaters
Contact information
For more information, contact:
Julia Riley
Wastewater Specialist

Vulnerability Assessments

Vulnerability Assessments are a good way to determine what types of security measures meet each wastewater system’s needs (more on Security Measures...). Vulnerabilities may consist of flaws in security procedures, software, internal system controls, transmission of data, or the lack of back up or redundancy for critical parts of the wastewater system. Vulnerabilities are also weaknesses that can cause disruption or failure of the wastewater system due to human actions or natural disasters. A Vulnerability Assessment helps identify:

  • General security measures to take throughout the wastewater treatment plant and collection system.
  • More specialized security measures to take to protect the critical parts of the wastewater system that are essential to maintain operation.
  • Administrative actions to protect staff, important documents, and information.

Vulnerability Assessments can be prepared by:

  • Wastewater treatment plant operators/staff
  • Public works directors
  • Consulting engineering firms

A team approach involving wastewater treatment plant staff, municipal administrators, law enforcement, fire department staff, and others is recommended in determining what security measures will meet the needs of each wastewater treatment facility.

There are several types of Vulnerability Assessment tools available:

Protecting Your Community’s Assets: A Guide for Small Wastewater Systems
The National Environmental Services Association (NESC) developed this vulnerability assessment method that uses a simple evaluation checklist. The guide does not require the use of a computer to complete. It is recommended for use with small-sized (serving less than 10,000 people) wastewater systems. The document can be downloaded online at no charge from the NESC web site (exit DNR).

Security Vulnerability Self-Assessment Guide for Wastewater Systems
The National Rural Water Association developed the “Security Vulnerability Self-Assessment Guide for Wastewater Systems”. The guide can be downloaded online at no charge from the Wisconsin Rural Water Association (exit DNR). This vulnerability assessment method uses a simple evaluation checklist inventory. It does not require the use of a computer to complete, and is recommended for use with small- to medium-sized wastewater treatment plants.

VSAT™(Vulnerability Self-Assessment Tool)
The Water Environment Federation and the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies developed the “VSAT™”. This assessment tool uses a computer software program to identify security measures to reduce the impacts from both man-made and natural disaster threats to wastewater system operations. The software program allows users to determine critical wastewater system assets, assign possible threats, assess how security measures will reduce vulnerabilities, and identify the most cost-effective security measures.

A free copy of the VSAT™ software is available by registering with the Water Environment Federation (exit DNR). This assessment method is recommended for larger wastewater treatment plants, and those with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Intermediate computer skills are required to use this software tool. Training on VSAT™ usage is recommended (more on Training and Education...)

RAM-W (Risk Assessment Methodology for Wastewater Utilities)
Sandia National Laboratories developed the “RAM-W”. This assessment tool uses a sophisticated computer software program to determine potential terrorist activity threats to wastewater systems and security measures to reduce those threats. Intermediate to advanced computer skills are required to use this software tool. It is recommended for large wastewater treatment plants. For more information on this assessment method, contact the American Water Works Association (exit DNR).

Last revised: Wednesday October 16 2013