Calif. water utility secures unmanned stations from biothreats

The investor-owned Alco Water Service has begun using an RFID-based system for security at its unmanned pump stations throughout Salinas, Calif., bringing them into compliance with the Bioterrorism Act of 2002.

Under the act, water utilities that serve populations of 3,300 or more are required to asses the vulnerability of their systems to acts of terrorism.

"Employees enter and leave our pump stations [throughout the day], and we have a lot of equipment, such as flow meters, that we need to track," Adnen Chaabane, Alco Water's operations engineer, told RFID Journal. "We wanted to track what goes in and out of the stations, and at what times."

In assessing the security of its unmanned well sites, consisting of small buildings housing a pump secured with barbed-wire fencing, Alco decided that RFID tags should be issued to personnel. Those tags are then to be linked to an access-control system that will only allow authorized workers to enter the pump stations.

This new RFID-based system will both lower the vulnerability of the stations to bioterrorism while allowing Alco to maintain a detailed and accurate history of employee activity.

The RFIDs will also allow Alco to tag its vital assets, which will let personnel better locate them quickly in the event of an emergency such as an attack, lowering the vulnerability of the water system.