The study identified the risks in order of likelihood and severity:
- Aging infrastructure
- Severe storms
- Loss of power
- Suppliers (e.g., transportation suppliers)
- Contamination of source water (including reservoirs)
- Chemical release/spill
- Unauthorized access to premises
- Malware (e.g., viruses, worms, Trojans)
- Insider threats (e.g., disgruntled/former employees)
- Visitors (including visitors from foreign countries)
- Phishing/spear phishing/watering hole
However, risks associated with the water supply are increasingly becoming complex, uncertain and ambiguous. Governments face disagreements over how best to respond to aging infrastructure, a complex risk; terrorism, an uncertain risk; and fracking, an ambiguous risk.
These new and emerging types of risks require different types of engagement strategies. Complex risks require close engagement with experts as well as consideration for the public’s concerns.
Uncertain risks are volatile enough that experts alone are not able to predict their impact, requiring that organizations increase their resilience and examine their tolerance for failure in their supply or intake systems.
Ambiguous risks are the most politically contentious and require close engagement with stakeholder groups in order to build a consensus about the nature of the risks and an appropriate response to them, the report said.
Read the full report.