76th Annual  Meeting
The U.S. Conference of Mayors
76th Annual Meeting
June 20-24, 2008
Miami

2008 ADOPTED RESOLUTIONS

THE CHEMICAL FACILITY ANTI-TERRORISM SECURITY ACT& WATER UTILITIES

WHEREAS, the Public Health Protection and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 required drinking water utilities to prepare vulnerability assessment and emergency response plans to address their vulnerabilities; and

WHEREAS, water utilities completed vulnerability assessment and emergency response plans with minimal federal assistance; and

WHEREAS, water utilities filed those vulnerability assessment and emergency response plans with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and

WHEREAS, water utilities regularly update vulnerability assessment and emergency response plans; and

WHEREAS, EPA regularly audits water utility vulnerability assessment and emergency response plans; and

WHEREAS, since 2002 water utilities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to complete and update vulnerability assessments, to harden security at drinking water facilities and to implement emergency response plans; and

WHEREAS, in addition to regulation under the Public Health Protection and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, water utilities are subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act; to emergency planning and community notification provisions under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act; and to additional state and local standards for safe storage and handling of hazardous chemicals; and

WHEREAS, city-run water utilities operate in the public interest and are ultimately responsible to the citizens they serve; and

WHEREAS, recognizing these factors, Congress appropriately exempted water utilities from the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security Act of 2006 (CFATS) and from the subsequent regulation of chemical facilities stemming from that act; and

WHEREAS, CFATS expires at the end of 2009 and Congress has begun work to reauthorize it and to make it permanent; and

WHEREAS, the House Committee on Homeland Security has reported a bill (HR 5577) to reauthorize CFATS permanently that would revoke the existing exemption for water utilities; and

WHEREAS, other proposals to reauthorize CFATS permanently would continue the existing exemption for water utilities; and

WHEREAS, HR 5577 includes language that would require water utilities to use “inherently safer technology” when choosing chemicals to treat drinking water; and

WHEREAS, decisions regarding drinking water treatment methods are complex and are often dependent on existing infrastructure and switching water treatment methods potentially involves massive and expensive changes to drinking water treatment plants;and

WHEREAS, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires water utilities to use some form of chlorine or chlorine combined with other chemicals to treat drinking water; and

WHEREAS, subjecting water utilities to CFATS “inherently safer technology” requirements would place an extreme regulatory burden on city-run water utilities, including the potential for contradictory regulatory directives from EPA regarding drinking water safety and public health and the Department of Homeland Security regarding chemical safety; and

WHEREAS, water treatment plants, by their nature, are generally located near population centers; and

WHEREAS, shutting down a water utility or even a single water treatment plant would create serious public safety and health problems, including, but not limited to serious impairment of fire suppression, sanitation and public health efforts,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to continue the exemption of water utilities from CFATS; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that should Congress expand CFATS to cover water utilities, they should, at a minimum:

  • exempt water utilities from a mandate to use “inherently safer technologies” when making drinking water treatment decisions,

  • exempt water utilities from any federal authority to shutdown a chemical facility, and

  • exempt water utilities from requirements regarding the placement of chemical facilities near population centers.