In Presidential Policy Directive 21-Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, the Water and Wastewater Systems Sector is designated as a critical infrastructure sector. The Directive identifies 16 such sectors and designates the associated Federal Sector-Specific Agency (SSA) leading efforts for that sector. For the Water and Wastewater Systems Sector, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the SSA. Guidance and sector-specific plans can be found HERE. The specific water and wastewater sector guidance can be found HERE.
On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is located within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issued a Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response. CISA developed the guidance and list, covering the 16 critical infrastructure sectors, to help state and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety and national security. The list, which can be found HERE, can also inform critical infrastructure community decision-making to determine the sectors, sub-sectors, segments, or critical functions that should continue normal operations, appropriately modified to account for workforce and customer protection guidance, to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Simply put, this means entities in the water and wastewater systems sector, including those that manufacture equipment to ensure continuity in operations, should be able to continue to work amid the pandemic, subject to any additional state-imposed orders.
Further strengthening the importance of this sector is a March 27, 2020 letter from U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to U.S. governors requesting that water and wastewater workers, as well as the manufacturers and suppliers who provide vital services and materials to the water sector, are considered essential workers and businesses by state authorities. A copy of the letter is available HERE.