Supporting Cybersecurity Measures with
the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund
The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan fund and set-asides may be
used to support state programs and communities with cybersecurity measures.
Cyber-attacks are a growing threat to critical
infrastructure sectors, including water systems.
Many critical infrastructure facilities have
experienced cybersecurity incidents that led to the
disruption of a business process or critical operation.
Cyber-attacks on water utilities can cause significant
harm, such as:
	upsetting treatment processes by accessing the
system remotely to open and close valves, override
alarms, or disable pumps or other equipment;
	defacing the system's website or compromising the
email system;
	stealing customers' personal data or credit card
information from the utility's billing system; and
	installing malicious programs (e.g. ransomware)
that can disable operations.
These attacks can compromise the ability of drinking
water systems to provide safe water to customers,
erode customer confidence, and result in financial
and legal liabilities. A robust cybersecurity program
can effectively reduce or even eliminate the
vulnerabilities that cyber-attacks exploit.
The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF)
can provide financial assistance to publicly-owned
and privately-owned community water systems, as
well as non-profit non-community water systems, for
drinking water infrastructure projects including
cybersecurity measures. Projects must either
facilitate the system's compliance with national
primary drinking water regulations or significantly
further the health protection objectives of the Safe
Drinking Water Act.
Each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico operates its
own DWSRF program. They receive annual
capitalization grants from the EPA, which in turn
provide low-interest loans and other types of
assistance to water systems. Repayments of DWSRF
loans begin one year after project completion, with
loan terms up to 30 years for most communities, or
up to 40 years for disadvantaged communities.

EPA OGWDW | Supporting Cybersecurity Measures with the DWSRF
EPA 816-F-19-007 October 2019
Additionally, states may use a portion of their
capitalization grant from the EPA as "set-asides" to
help communities build the technical, managerial,
and financial capacities of their systems. With an
emphasis on small systems, these funds help ensure
sustainable infrastructure and public health
The DWSRF may be used to develop effective
cybersecurity practices and measures at drinking
water systems. The set-asides can be used to
conduct assessments and to develop improvement
plans and emergency response strategies. The loan
fund can be used to fund the installation of cyber-
related infrastructure, which may include upgrading
information technology and operational technology.
Risk and Resilience Assessment
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as amended,
requires community water systems serving more
than 3,300 persons to conduct a risk and resilience
assessment of their water systems. This includes
assessing the security of any electronic, computer,
or other automated systems utilized by the
community water system. The SDWA also requires
these community water systems to certify to the EPA
that they have completed the required assessments.
Following the completion of the assessment, water
systems must develop or update their emergency
response plans (ERPs). DWSRF set-asides may be
used to assist water systems in establishing a
cybersecurity program, including developing
assessments and ERPs. Eligible infrastructure
improvements identified by the assessments may be
funded through the loan fund. More information on
the SDWA risk and resilience assessment
requirements can be found on the EPA's Water
Resilience website.
Training and education of operators and other water
system staff is an eligible set-aside activity. States or
their third-party contractors may develop and
present workshops, seminars and other training
events related to cybersecurity awareness and
response. Other set-aside activities include assisting
water systems with the creation of cybersecurity
policies and procedures, the development of cyber
incident response plans, and conducting table top
exercises and full-scale emergency exercises.
Equipment & Infrastructure
The DWSRF loan fund may be used to finance
equipment and upgrade technologies. Examples
include upgrading outdated computers and
software, creating secure network backups,
enhancing the security of information technology
and operational technology systems, installing or
updating Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition
(SCADA) systems, providing on-site back up power
generation, and installing threat detection and
monitoring systems. Water systems may use DWSRF
loan funding to construct physical barriers and
access control systems to protect information
technology (IT) systems from unauthorized physical
access. These may include locking doors/cabinets,
cabinet intrusion alarms or conduit to protect
network cables. These are eligible components of
larger drinking water system improvement projects
or may be stand-alone projects.
Water systems receive DWSRF assistance directly
from state agencies. Each state has its own
application procedure. Contact information for each
state is posted at https://www.epa.aov/dwsrf/state-
EPA's Water Sector Cybersecurity Brief for States:
https://www.epa.aov/sites/production/files/2018-06/documents/cybersecurity guide for states final O.pdf
DWSRF Eligibility Handbook
For more information, visit: