Water storage tanks and reservoirs continue to be targets of vandalism and a source officials monitor closely due to concerns of contamination and even terrorist attacks.
Vandals and trespassers may contaminate the local water supply and in some cases cause loss of the water supply. Several incidents of vandalism at water reservoirs over the past few years have resulted in several million gallons of water lost in each case, representing many months of clean water supply for the community.
In California’s drought, where the water supply is in precious demand, the loss is especially great. In May of 2015, vandals struck the water supply on the Alameda Creek in Fremont, California. The damage inflicted to the inflatable dam on the creek resulted in 50 million gallons of clean water lost into the San Francisco Bay. The “No Trespassing” signs posted near Alameda Dam was not enough to keep out vandals. Robert Shaver, General Manager for the Alameda County Water District stated “the people that conducted this act definitely had malicious intent.”
Contaminated water causes illness and disease. Water supply disruptions affect factories, hospitals, schools, businesses and homes. When a community must go without its water supply, drinking water is not available and hygiene suffers, fire hazards increase as fire suppression sprinkler systems are down, and water-cooled medical gas and suction compressors at hospitals (safety issue for patients on ventilation) are affected. Depending on the type or extent of the vandalism, unexpected flooding can occur, costing hundreds of lives.
By taking preventive actions and putting strong protections and maintenance procedures in place, you can help to ward off the hazards of vandalism and trespassers. Put fencing around the facility, locks on access manholes, ensure the roof is watertight, and cover vents with screens that keep out birds, insects, rodents and other undesirable elements. Water storage facilities and infrastructure must be protected and maintained properly, with regular inspections to maintain the integrity of the water’s safety.