APWA Testifies on Capitol Hill

Evan Pratt (from left), APWA Government Affairs Committee Member and Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner; Tom Carper (D-DE), Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Chair; Shelley Capito (R-WV), Committee Ranking Member; and Scott Grayson, APWA CEO, meet before the hearing.
Evan Pratt (from left), APWA Government Affairs Committee Member and Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner; Tom Carper (D-DE), Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Chair; Shelley Capito (R-WV), Committee Ranking Member; and Scott Grayson, APWA CEO, meet before the hearing.


Government Affairs Committee (GAC) member Evan Pratt, Water Resources Commissioner for Washtenaw County, MI, testified on July 21 before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The subject of the hearing was, Addressing Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities Facing our Nation’s Critical Infrastructure. During the hearing, Commissioner Pratt took the opportunity to speak to APWA’s recommendations and priorities for cybersecurity, and these are:

  • The federal government must share threat information and provide technical support to state and local governments to enhance cybersecurity. One way may be by establishing Voluntary National Cybersecurity Guidelines and include public works in crafting these recommendations.
  • Utilize important tools to protect these assets, including Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.
  • Comprehensive cybersecurity training for public works professionals to prevent and mitigate cyber intrusions.
  • Continue and fully fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Performance Grant Program (EMPG).
  • Encourage effective asset management strategies.
  • Provide robust federal funding through programs including the State Revolving Funds, Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans, and Rural Utilities Service loans & grants, making cybersecurity a specific eligibility for funding.
  • Financing mechanisms for water infrastructure investment at the local level should be preserved and enhanced, to allow local governments to better invest in cybersecurity. Lifting the cap on Private Activity Bonds for water infrastructure and restoring advance refunding of tax-exempt municipal bonds can assist this goal.
  • Congress should continue to ensure state and local control regarding public works projects as it is the local level officials who are experts on their communities and the community needs.

An archive of the hearing may be found at Senate EPW, and you may also read Commissioner Pratt’s delivered testimony.

Questions for Commissioner Pratt focused on the following:

  • What tools (such as funding or training) can the federal government provide to assist in safeguarding the nation’s critical infrastructure from potential cyber-attacks?
  • What are some the key challenges or impediments faced when trying to defend our critical infrastructure from a cyber intrusion?

Other witnesses testifying at hearing were U.S. Senator Angus King of Maine, U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Sophia Oberton, Special Projects Coordinator, Delmar Public Works Department, John Sullivan, Chief Engineer, Boston Water and Sewer Commission, and Shailen Bhatt, President and CEO of ITS America.