With the issue of national security at the front of everyone’s mind, utility companies and their suppliers, not to mention Government ministers and advisors, have never been more aware of the importance of keeping the nation’s water supply and its critical infrastructure and equipment secure.
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has advised public sector organisations which own parts of the Critical National Infrastructure, on design improvements to protect them from the effects of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CRBN) agents. And measures have been taken by all of our water companies to safeguard against chemical and physical attack.
All water utilities new build sites will be obliged to meet the current Government directives but, of course, the far bigger challenges come from bringing existing, ageing sites up to date so they too meet these high standards.
Sue Paton, Sales and Commercial Director of Morgan Marine, who design, engineer and manufacture security housings, kiosks, enclosures and barsets for the utilities industries, says: “Much work has been done across Britain to bring our water infrastructure up to date.
“But of course many of the buildings and their associated networks of pipes and underground workings were built by the pioneering Victorians to the standards and with the materials of the day.
“This means we have some highly decorated municipal buildings dotted around our landscape, but they do need very regular upgrading to meet our modern, stringent security standards.
“This work is being done as part of a rolling programme by all of the major water companies.
“As leading engineers and manufacturers of specialist LPCB security rated products, we carry out detailed assessments of water sites and advise about the tools and products needed to safeguard water infrastructure – whether this is Victorian infrastructure, or whether this is the more modern kiosks and housings that need to be modified to meet newer security standards.
“To illustrate, we have multiple sites in our current order book which we will upgrade by throughout 2018. As far as the fabric of key buildings is concerned, they would frequently have been fitted, back in Victorian times, with handsome mahogany doors, which, tycpically might have been added to with glass panels in the 1970’s.
“These have to be removed and replaced by security tested steel. Similarly the windows, air vents and any other possible access points in these old buildings need to be assessed and made secure with the kind of rigorously tested bar sets we produce.
“For water utilities companies, their equipment isn’t just housed in buildings, kiosks and housings, but it extends to pipework, wells and chambers, all of which need to be protected so they don’t become the soft underbelly for potential intruders or attackers.
“We launched a new product at the most recent UK Security Expo which is particularly useful in this regard and it is a product many of our regular clients asked us to engineer and manufacture. The new Trojan LPCB SR3 and 4 single and multi leaf access covers are particularly valuable to clients in the water sectors by helping to secure chambers – whether these are dry or wet wells, access to valves, or chemical fill points. CPNI advice is consistent in its recommendations that effective physical security of any asset is achieved by multi-layering different measures – a practice commonly referred to as defence-in-depth.
“The concept is based on the principle that the security of an asset is not significantly reduced with the loss of a single layer, since there are many such layers. So, considering physical security requirements when you are at the design stage of a facility or enclosure, is key. Making sure you have a robust access control and locking systems, and being able to detect any physical or chemical breach – these are all part of that layering approach that helps to keep our vital Critical National Infrastructure secure.”