GAO Requests NACWA Input on Chemical Security

(March 27, 2020) – NACWA met with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) via conference call on March 19 to discuss the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), the regulatory program that manages security of high-risk facilities that possess any of 300 chemicals of interest above a specified threshold.

When Congress authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish the CFATS program in 2006, it specifically exempted drinking water and wastewater utilities from the program. Although the water sector exemption has been questioned by different entities each time Congress approves extension of the CFATS program, NACWA and other water associations have consistently supported the exemption.

NACWA reiterated this support during the GAO meeting, explaining that utilities already take many voluntary security measures and that utilities with larger chemical quantities must already comply with EPA’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) rule.  

The current CFATS program has been extended into July while Congress and the White House debate its future.

GAO is still in the initial stages of research and will provide NACWA with an update on its progress this fall. NACWA members interested in submitting input to GAO on the CFATS program and the water sector exemption are encouraged to contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.