US Doesn't Know if Water Treatment Plants Are Ready for 2000 : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Looking for a link. In the meantime:


US Doesn't Know if Water Treatment Plants Are Ready for 2000 Washington, April 28 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. doesn't know whether water and wastewater treatment plants will be ready for Jan. 1, 2000 because too few treat plants have responded to requests for information.

Water facilities could lose water pressure, under- or over- treat drinking water or cause an overflow of untreated sewage into public waterways if their computer fails, the U.S. General Accounting Office reported.

The GAO doesn't know whether water systems are ready because plants have not filled out surveys that would indicate how far along plants are on fixing their computer systems. Only 18 percent of 4,000 water facility operators returned the voluntary survey sent to them by three drinking water associations, GAO said.

Year 2000 computer problems, dubbed the Y2K bug, stem from the trouble some computer programs and chips have recognizing the Year 2000 date, which could lead them to read 2000 as 1900 and prompt a system shutdown.

Most treatment facilities have manual backup systems if their automated systems fail, though if many systems fail on Jan. 1 it could be more than workers could handle, the GAO report said.

(End snip)

Just passin' it on. . .


-- FM (, April 29, 1999


I guess this report was released yesterday. Maybe it will show up on the GAO database later today.

I may not have time today to search for it. (Paging Diane Squire?)


-- FM (, April 29, 1999.

Good Morning!

Our local community water service doesn't have to worry about chlorine, etc. - our water from them is ok without treatment. The problem is their high tech system which utilizes telephones and computerized valves and switches to maintain pressures and levels in tanks. When I asked about Y2K they told me that "all manufacturers state their components are compliant" - meaning absolutely no independent testing other than for the billing/office. Also, no generator "but we did just install a $900 plug so that we CAN plug in a generator". I plan to attend a board mtg in May to speak up for a generator.....

-- Kristi (securx@Succeed.Net), April 29, 1999.

The only sensible thing to do is get your own safe water supply. Not bottled, but a well - and one that can be used without electricity. IMO water supply is a possible problem, and it is an unacceptable risk.

-- Steve Hartzler (, April 29, 1999.

While we wait for more details to emerge, there's a footnote on this.

The Bloomberg story also indicated that Congress could pass legislation requiring facilities to disclose their status by September 1999, but the EPA, which regulates water companies, said "putting together rules would take a long time."



-- FM (, April 29, 1999.


In the GAO Daybook E-mail Alert this morning they sent this notice of pending availability. Should be accessible within the next week or so.

Year 2000 Computing Crisis: Status of the Water Industry GAO/AIMD-99- 151, Apr. 21 (PREPUBLISHED)*.

Watch for the GAO New Title reports at ...



-- Diane J. Squire (, April 29, 1999.

Thanks Diane! I saw that in the daybook, but what does PREPUBLISHED* mean. (You've been digging into the GAO lately. What's up with that?)


-- FM (, April 29, 1999.

 EPA OW Sector Action Plan


Y2K, the Year 2000, or the "Millennium Bug" computer problem could adversely affect the operations of the nation's drinking water and wastewater treatment systems if it is not corrected. The Year 2000 issue is a potential problem for these systems because many of them use computers and equipment with embedded computer chips. If action is not taken now, the "Millennium Bug" could affect drinking water and wastewater operations, leading to public health and environmental problems.


Many computers and embedded computer chips are programmed to recognize or record only the last two digits of a given year instead of the complete four digit date. For that reason, computers could end up with "negative" dates (which they don't recognize) or with completely wrong dates (if they interpret "00" as 1900 instead of 2000.) A potential problem exists whenever calculations based on actual dates are used within hardware or computer programs, applications, controls or procedures.

The arrival of this "Millennium Bug" could affect any computer and any kind of date-active device or software. Some computers and equipment will "crash"; others will operate erroneously; others may simply stop and need to be restarted; some may create corrupt data that will be assumed valid because it will not be readily detected; and some may continue to operate correctly.

The Year 2000 problem can affect any administrative system, such as payroll, billing, ordering and compliance reporting as well as plant operations. Since a large volume of information is already available on how to assess and repair such problems, this article focuses on actual drinking water and wastewater plant operations in order to assist plant managers in locating and correcting Year 2000 problems in their treatment systems.


Y2K problems in drinking water and wastewater treatment systems can occur in computers, computer software, and in systems that use computerized controls. Much attention has already been focused on finding and fixing those problems because they are the most obvious.

A less readily apparent, yet potentially serious, problem in drinking water and wastewater treatment systems could be caused by equipment with embedded computer chips. Many of these chips are time and date sensitive, relying on real-time clocks to perform their functions.

Embedded chips can be either single- or multi-purpose computerized devices that are literally embedded within equipment controls or control systems. Embedded chips can perform actual control and monitoring functions of the drinking water and wastewater treatment processes.

A < b>real-time clock function is used for operations that are date or time specific. A real-time clock function can be programmed into any device, computer hardware or software package to record, store, or transmit actual time, day, and date. Real-time clocks might be found in processes or actions that must occur on a specific day of the week, or operations that must be repeated on a set cycle such as every other day or just weekends but not weekdays.

Examples of these processes in drinking water and wastewater treatment plants are: starting and stopping aeration blowers and pump motors; filling storage tanks; cycling of heating and ventilation systems; and monitoring equipment.

Depending on the treatment system, the Year 2000 problem may not exist (no automation), may exist only in specific pieces of equipment (some automation), or may exist not only in equipment but also in a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA). Any drinking water or wastewater treatment system which might have equipment with this problem should be assessed and any needed repairs performed.


Locating all of a facility's computers and embedded chips with real-time clocks can be difficult. Things that look like a computer are easy to find but control equipment, including Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and equipment with embedded chips can be almost anywhere. Some problems may not be readily apparent, but may cause system failure.


Every circuit board is suspect, but priority should be given to systems that ask for a date after a power failure, or have a back- up power source. Most newer systems use PLCs in place of conventional control systems. As the name implies, PLCs have a visual display or transmit data to a remote display terminal. These controllers can be programmed or reprogrammed by the operator. ****Older systems, however, may contain embedded timing devices that have no visual display of the real-time clock function, nor any means to see if a real-time clock function was installed at the factory. ****

Most computerized control systems and telemetering systems also contain some type of real-time clock function. These monitoring systems alert the operator about equipment problems, breakdowns and malfunctions. They also record and transmit data from remote locations showing the exact date and time of the problem.

Even chips without real-time clock functions may have been programmed with default values. In the event of a Year 2000 failure, these chips may malfunction or revert to the default value. These devices are often found in systems such as power, security, heating and ventilation, telephones, elevators, monitoring, and process controls.


It is also important that owners and operators check with all industries and commercial establishments that provide pretreatment of their process water or wastewater before discharge to a treatment plant. Failure of the pretreatment process due to a Year 2000 related problem could hydraulically or organically overload the wastewater treatment plant or release toxic or hazardous contaminants that could interfere with the plant's ability to meet permit requirements. Owners and operators should make sure that the pretreatment providers fully understand the requirements and liabilities of federal and state pretreatment regulations and local sewer use ordinances.

-- Brian (, April 29, 1999.

Italics off.

I would think "prepublished" means they're updating (revising?) the data.

Need glasses to read that Brian. ;-)


-- Diane J. Squire (, April 29, 1999.


-- Diane J. Squire (, April 29, 1999.

How about a nice Verdana Regular?

-- No Spam Please (, April 29, 1999.

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