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Water Management

Posted on: February 10, 2021

Water Management Statement on System Security

Cybersecurity images showing a digital lock over binary numbering

The City of Durham Department of Water Management (DWM) wants to reassure Durham water customers that the City’s drinking water is safe and that our water system controls are secure. This announcement follows a recent cyberattack on a water treatment facility in Oldsmar, Florida in which a hacker breached the system controls of the facility and attempted to increase the amount of chemicals used in Oldsmar’s water treatment process to an unsafe level. A worker at the facility noticed the breach and intervened, preventing a water quality disaster.

“DWM’s employees are committed to providing City of Durham water customers with safe and clean water and diligently monitor both water quality and the security of our water system controls. The Florida incident is alarming, and it shows the need to have dedicated personnel monitoring system controls and water quality. Our facilities are staffed 24/7/365 and controls are in place at the City to help prevent an attack of this nature,” said Don Greeley, Department of Water Management Director. 

 FAQs about the security of the City’s water system security and controls:

  • How does DWM control remote access to its control systems?
    DWM does not permit remote access to its control systems.
  • What other cybersecurity protocols has DWM implemented?
    DWM strictly controls physical access to control system hardware and has had testing performed to verify that the control systems were not accessible from other networks. This was included in the Risk and Resiliency Assessment conducted in 2020 as a part of compliance with the America's Water Infrastructure Act. 
  • What redundancies are in place to monitor water quality?
    DWM employees continuously monitor water quality as water leaves the plants, as well as at various locations throughout the city. Staff are dispatched as necessary to investigate and correct deficiencies in the system.
  • Has DWM experienced similar attacks?
    To date, DWM has not detected/experienced any cyber-attacks on Durham’s water or wastewater infrastructure.

 DWM’s annual Water Quality Report provides an overview of water treatment operations. The 2020 report will be released in May 2021. 

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