Of course, it was bound to happen.
On Friday, January 17 workers arrived at the water treatment facility in Manapalan, NJ to the sound of cries for help and discovered a man stuck inside a 20-inch diameter pipe outside of a water storage tank. The man has been identified as 26-year-old Asaf Mohammed.
The plant is encompassed by barbed wire, and officials are still trying to determine how Mohammed was able to gain access to the water treatment plant without being detected.
Mohammed has been charged with fourth-degree criminal trespassing. Basically, he was given a wrist slapping.
The facility supplies drinking water to about 40,000 residents.
This isn’t anything new
I’m not surprised by this, but in reading more about this event, I discovered that this is nothing new, and has been happening for several years in America.
In May 2013, seven individuals, five men and two women, from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore were arrested by the Massachusetts State Police in the middle of the night at the Quabbin Reservoir, the largest inland body of water in Massachusetts, which supplies drinking water to the city of Boston as well as dozens of other Massachusetts communities.
The group told the state trooper who discovered them, that they were all chemical engineers and simply wanted to check out the facility. They had cut three locks in order to gain access to the reservoir.
Despite the fact that this occurred a month after the Boston Marathon bombing, and the ominous threat that could have been posed to a drinking water for a massive population in and around Boston, no charges were ever filed against the group of trespassers, and they remain at-large, their whereabouts unknown. The Massachusetts State Police appealed the decision, but to no avail. The police were powerless to hold them.
How many more of these have we not heard about? I shudder to think!
What lessons did I learn from all of this?
Well, the first lesson I take away from it is I need to control my own water as much as I can. Storing water is absolutely necessary to keep my family safe and hydrated, especially if there was some kind of water emergency, or worse, water terrorism. That was the first and most obvious thing and drove home the urgency of my own access to safe water with laser precision. Message received. Get ready now.
The second lesson is clear. It may not be too late to get water preparedness in order for my family, but if I procrastinate I’m taking a chance. I’m not a gambling man, and I don’t like to take chances with the lives of my dearest loved ones in the balance. Ever. Let’s face it, I’m not unique in that – none of us do, but armed with the knowledge of the above events, the urgency of making significant water preparations now has risen to DEFCON levels for me.
The third lesson I take away from this may not be obvious, but if these few individuals can get so close to perpetrating a potentially deadly terrorist act to affect thousands, then I myself can take real action to protect the lives of my family. It matters what one person can do. It matters what a small group can do.
It matters what I do.
It matters what you do, too.
Will we see widespread attempts at water terrorism in the near future?
What does your gut tell you?