Year 2000 Computing Crisis: GAO Report on status of the water industry : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The availability of this report online appears to be imminent (see URL below), but I can't figure out why it isn't ALREADY on line.

Latest URL detailing release

Maybe today. . .one can only hope.

If you see it, please post the URL to this thread?


-- FM (, May 07, 1999


The report is not on the GAO website, but this is on the Senate's website. I believe it is a summary of the GAO report.

R. ********************************************************************************


New report says 200 million Americans served by water facilities with "inactive" regulators

WASHINGTON, DC - While most major water utilities are believed to be prepared for the year 2000, a report released today by the Senate Special Committee on the Year 2000 (Y2K) Technology Problem highlights a lack of information on the preparedness of the nation's 70,000 water utilities, citing slim state-level oversight of Y2K compliance efforts and an insufficient federal regulatory framework for addressing Y2K problems at drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.

"Ultimately, there must be accountability at all levels of government for meeting the Y2K challenge, from the federal government on down," said Senator Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), Committee Chair, who requested the report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) with Committee Vice-Chair Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) in November. "This report reaffirms that states, cities and towns must double their efforts to ensure that vital services -- water, electricity, and emergency services -- continue to function on January 1, 2000."

"A key part of any water utility's mission is to ensure our citizens' access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation," Dodd added. "The Y2K bug must be treated with the same seriousness as any other parasite that may prey upon public health."

The GAO survey, while making no assessment of water utilities' Y2K readiness, examined Y2K oversight and regulatory efforts among cabinet-level state water administrations and public utility commissioners. It found that state water administrations, which oversee the majority of water utilities, took less oversight responsibility for facility Y2K compliance or contingency planning than public utility commissions. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that current regulations "do not require states to take responsibility for the Year 2000 issue."

"Because of the large number of state regulators that are not collecting facilities' readiness information, there is insufficient information to assess and manage Year 2000 efforts in the water sector," the report said. "Further, little additional information is expected under the current regulatory framework."

The GAO gave 34 public utility commissioners its highest "proactive" rating with regard to Y2K. In states such as Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut and Utah, the report said that public utility commissions were actively addressing the Y2K problem. Conversely, the report found that cabinet-level state administrators were less involved in Y2K oversight, giving the "proactive" label to only two state drinking water administrations. A less favorable "active" rating was given to 28 state drinking water administrations.

Among cabinet-level wastewater regulators, three were rated "proactive" and 30 were rated "active." Twenty-one wastewater public utility commissioners were rated "proactive" and two were rated "active."

A total of 44 public utility commissions and 17 state administrations, however, garnered the report's lowest "non-regulatory" or "inactive" rating. The GAO also estimated that a total of 245 million people are served by facilities with inactive Y2K drinking water regulators and 186 million people are served by facilities with inactive Y2K wastewater regulators.

Like the Y2K Committee's assessment of the water utility industry -- released with assessments of nine key economic sectors in a March 2 report  the GAO found widespread vulnerabilities to Y2K failures among large and small water treatment facilities that rely on electronic and automated controls for pumps, valves and sensors. In addition, water and wastewater facilities are "heavily dependent" on external power, telecommunications and chemical suppliers, the report said.

"In their dependence on electricity and external suppliers, water utilities are no more or less vulnerable than any other industry," Dodd said. "But we need more information on how the industry is preparing in case the electricity goes out or if suppliers can't get through."

At a December 18 hearing on Y2K challenges in the water treatment industry, Bennett pointed to several examples where computer glitches  while not Y2K related  caused problems at local facilities:

In 1998, a Providence, Rhode Island, wastewater treatment facility accidentally released 500,000 gallons of partly treated sewage into the Providence River. In 1996, an excess of potassium permanganate was added to the city water supply in Vancouver, Columbia, turning residents' drinking water pink. No illnesses were reported, but in greater amounts the chemical causes burning throat, stomach ache and nausea. In 1998, a Meridian, Idaho, water tower filled to overflowing, flooding a parking lot.

"Many facilities are working hard to ensure Y2K compliance, but without consistent state or federal oversight, we are unable to gather reliable information necessary to assuage public fears that Y2K will cause major disruptions in service," said Bennett. Bennett and Dodd are contacting the EPA and major water industry associations to ask for a coordinated Y2K compliance effort. "States and communities should strengthen their efforts at compliance, contingency planning and public education about their Y2K readiness," said Bennett.

"Most water systems are doing a good job of preparing for potential Y2K problems," Dodd added. "But this does not absolve those charged with overseeing the systems from their responsibility to protect the public's interests. In this case, that means assessing Y2K-readiness and ensuring that contingency plans are in place."

There are approximately 200,000 public drinking water systems in the U.S. that serve 243 million people. Approximately 190 million people --- 70 percent  of the U.S. population is served by wastewater treatment facilities. There are 16,000 wastewater treatment facilities nationwide that treat from less than 100,000 gallons per day to 100 million gallons per day.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A copy of the GAO report is available at

-- Roland (, May 07, 1999.

Thanks, Roland. I was just about to post the same thing myself!

Here's hoping the actual GAO report (when finally released) is more specific regarding locations of the good, the bad and the ugly. . .


-- FM (, May 07, 1999.

The report is now out on the GAO website. See FM's link above. Gonna go read it now.


-- Roland (, May 07, 1999.

Oh man...


"We surveyed state regulators to identify their efforts to monitor the Year 2000 status of the water and wastewater facilities they regulate, and found a wide range of responses. A few states were proactively collecting Year 2000 compliance data from the facilities they regulate, while a much larger group of states was disseminating Year 2000 information, and another group was not actively using either approach.

Further, only a handful of state regulators believed that under the current regulatory framework, they were responsible for ensuring facilities Year 2000 compliance, or overseeing facilities business continuity and contingency plans. As a result, insufficient information is available to assess and manage Year 2000 efforts in the water sector, and little additional information is expected under the current regulatory framework."


So we don't even know what we don't know.

This is a fascinating report. 48pgs (682KB)but worth the download.

Maybe I need to reconsider drilling a well...

Thanks for the heads up, FM

-- Lewis (, May 07, 1999.

Slide 16 (page 28) of the report is interesting. A voluntary survey was sent 8/98 to 4,000 facility operators. 725 responded (a whopping 18% response rate). Half of those reported they had completed their internal assessments by 12/98. This is biased, however, "in favor of facilities that are better prepared for the Year 2000".

I thought health care was in bad shape. Water facilities, from the little data available, appear to be much worse. Or am I "spinning" this wrong? Help me, Polly's. I like water.

-- regular (zzz@z.z), May 07, 1999.

You're welcome, Lewis.

(Regular, I like water too. In fact, I NEED water. . .)

I may not have time to digest this report today, so I appreciate any and all analysis here. I'll check in when I can. Thanks in advance.

(Any particular info on locations would be appreciated)


-- FM (, May 07, 1999.

GAO Reports and Testimony -- Listed By Title ...


Year 2000 Computing Crisis: Status of the Water Industry. AIMD-99-151. 12 pp. plus 2 appendices (35 pp.) April 21, 1999. new.items/ai99151.pdf

Takes longer to get posted here ...

GAOs Y2K page ...

Also remember, if you want a text copy of any PDF file on the internet, send a PDF conversion request to Adobe ... it should bounce back within a couple minutes ...

Subject: Can leave blank

E-mail address:

Body (List ONLY the PDF URL): ai99151.pdf

[Getting the text converted makes it easier to post snips rather than re-type].

Some other Y2K reports came up today too.

Year 2000 Computing Crisis: Action Needed to Ensure Continued Delivery of Veterans Benefits and Health Care Services. T-AIMD-99-136. 24 pp. April 15, 1999.


Year 2000 Computing Crisis: Readiness Improving But Much Work Remains to Ensure Delivery of Critical Services. T-AIMD-99-149. 25 pp. plus 1 appendix (2 pp.) April 19, 1999.


Time to water the garden, soon.



(Analysis later FM ... water interests me ... big time!)

-- Diane J. Squire (, May 07, 1999.

So. . .how's the water situation where YOU LIVE?

A very interesting excerpt from the report regarding your state government's efforts to insure you have clean water: The following states are considered:



Colorado, Minnesota

These states reported taking action to assess readiness of drinking water facilities. Most of these states also reported taking action to provide (1) information about Year 2000, or (2) guidance about how to address Year 2000 to operators in their states.



Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming

These states reported taking action to disseminate information about the problem or notify operators about their responsibility for Year 2000, but did not assess the Year 2000 progress of facilities in their states.



Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon

These states reported not taking action to provide information about potential Year 2000 problems to facility operators, or to assess the readiness of drinking water facilities in their states. Some of these states said they plan to take action in the future.

(I wonder exactly WHEN they plan to take action?)

'Gotta hand it to Joel Willemsen when he writes:

"In order to reduce the risk of Year 2000-related failures of drinking water and wastewater services and to ensure that the public has adequate information about what is being done to reduce the risk of such failures, we suggest that:

The Presidents Council on Year 2000 Conversion consider requesting that the water sector associations publicly disclose the status of those facilities that have responded to surveys, and identify those that have not responded."


-- FM (, May 07, 1999.


Posted some water links on this thread ...

Water Supplies and Sodium Hypochlorite 000naY

See also ...

Related (Water) Site Links Index

[Awesome amount of links and sub-links ... requires more exploration] ...


Water ... links has extensive listing too ...

Water Agencies

Public and private agencies supplying water and water-related services ...


-- Diane J. Squire (, May 07, 1999.

Hi all. I have a friend who works for water treatment here in Cleve ohio , she stated that they are remediating, however, they are scheduling over 750 employees during the rollover, no vacations, no sick offs. Her reply to us was "If we had it together, why the no vaction policy?" She has little faith, I've ordered more bottled water.

-- consumer (, May 07, 1999.

FYI, if you ever want to send Joel Willemssen (I'm correcting my mis-spelling above) an "atta-boy" message for investigating this type of stuff, his email is


-- FM (, May 07, 1999.

Great idea, FM!

Did send an appreciative e-mail to Senators Bennett and Dodd a couple times.

Sent lots to newsmedia when they write good investigative reports. Sent many more, with D-minus grades, to those who dont.

Sometimes, they even respond, wondering why they got such a poor grade.


-- Diane J. Squire (, May 07, 1999.

You water addicts make me sick...always looking for your next fix, your next liquid 'high.'

-- a camel (dry@as.dust), May 07, 1999.


That's because we don't have humps.


-- FM (, May 07, 1999.

Speaking of humps, I know a few women that.......... Nah won't go there. Smeriously though, water does not look good. Not to worry, the feds will have all you need!

-- FLAME AWAY (, May 07, 1999.

Look Deeper~~Whenever you see this sudden "expose" of problems involving "embedded" anything you will somewhere in the area find Dave "my opinion only" Hall.

Read my reply to a post on another PB *grin* and feel free to ask me any logical questions about my disagreement with his constantly changing "personal opinions". 25785293&P=Yes&TL=925680651 25680651&P=No&TL=925680651 EVERY SYSTEM THAT USES ELECTRICITY MUST BE CONSIDERED GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT. GET BUSY AND STOP THE DISASTER FROM HAPPENING!!!


To: Subject: Re: Embedded Systems Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 21:18:31 -0500

John, Only one comment on the info you wrote - None of the people working the embedded chip problems has ever said that we must find, test, and fix some billions of microprocessors (chips). What we are saying is that somewhere among the billions (pick your own number, I'm tired of arguing about a number that is really impossible to get and prove) there are maybe 10% (again, pick your own number, it's different in each industry sector and in each type of facility) that will be affected by the "00" transition or "00" dates. Now, find those 10% and fix them. FIND THOSE 10% AND FIX THEM. How do you suppose we can find them? Well, by testing every one of the billions of chips out there. If you have another way to PROVE to us that there is no risk of an unknown failure, then please provide it to the mailist.

You say "testing every one of those billions of chips out there". ....

-- Cherri (, May 09, 1999.

I don't think I trust anything my water department says about reliability of service. ___=TOPAP.html

April 26, 1999

Audit: Durham Employee Used City Equipment for Personal Use

DURHAM (AP) -- Durham's water and sewer maintenance chief accused of using city equipment for personal use for 18 months has left his job, according to a newspaper report.

Lawson B. Roycroft, 55, used a city bulldozer and city workers to grade land at his church and used the city maintenance garage to work on his personal vehicles, according to a city audit obtained by The News & Observer.

Roycroft's name was blacked out on the copy of the audit provided to the newspaper, but City Manager Lamont Ewell confirmed that Roycroft was the official. Ewell declined to say whether disciplinary action was taken against Roycroft, citing the issue as a personnel matter exempted from the state's open records laws.

Personnel records show that he left city employment March 11, 1998.

As superintendent of the water and sewer maintenance division, Roycroft oversaw the maintenance of water meters for the city. A probe that began last fall has found that meters serving the city's biggest customers were faulty and could have failed to record millions of dollars in water use.

Ewell said the misuse of city equipment and property within the water and sewer division demonstrates the need to analyze each facet of government, something Ewell said he has been doing since he became city manager in July 1997.

The audit said a city employee tipped off the city to the misuse of equipment and employees.

The audit also found that Roycroft ran up about $4,000 in inappropriate charges with a city-issued credit card. Items charged included auto parts, three toys, a leather briefcase, sweets for office parties and computer parts. Roycroft reimbursed the city for some of those items.

An example of losses because of faulty water meters is the one feeding Duke University. In March 1998, the faulty meter showed Duke had drawn about $82,000 that month. Last month, with a new meter in place, the total was about $185,000.

All told, the city has been unable to account for seven million of the 28 million gallons of water that treatment plants put into the system each day.

-- Old Git (, May 09, 1999.

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