EPA threatens criminal sanctions over utility cyber failures

By Miranda Willson | 05/21/2024 01:13 PM EDT

Cyberattacks on water systems have become increasingly severe and frequent, the agency said in an enforcement alert.

An overhead view of a few buildings associated with the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.

Part of the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, is shown Dec. 11, 2023. Cyberattacks against water utilities across the country are becoming more frequent and more severe, EPA warned Monday. Gene J Puskar/AP

This story was updated at 5:24 p.m. EDT.

About 70 percent of community water systems inspected by EPA within the last eight months were not complying with “basic” cybersecurity requirements under federal law, the agency said this week.

Water providers should immediately take action to deter cyberattacks, which have become increasingly severe and frequent and could have serious consequences for water supplies, EPA warned in an enforcement alert.


The agency is stepping up cybersecurity inspections and could pursue civil and criminal enforcement in situations that pose “imminent and substantial endangerment,” per the alert.