News Briefs: ​More Cyberattacks Surface as CISA Releases Advisory About PLCs

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, cities in Minnesota confront the costs of PFAS removal in light of potential regulatory changes on the horizon

News Briefs: ​More Cyberattacks Surface as CISA Releases Advisory About PLCs

The St. Johns River Water Management District in Florida is the latest entity to confirm it was the target of a recent cyberattack. This incident comes as U.S. cybersecurity agencies warn of increased foreign cyber threats against water utilities.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Israel National Cyber Directorate recently released a joint Cybersecurity Advisory in response to the active exploitation of Unitronics programmable logic controllers in multiple sectors, including U.S. water and wastewater facilities.

Iranian Government Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated cyber actors using the persona “CyberAv3ngers” are actively targeting and compromising Israeli-made Unitronics Vision Series PLCs that are publicly exposed to the internet, through the use of default passwords, according to CISA. The PLCs may be rebranded and appear as different manufacturers and company names. 

All organizations are encouraged to review the joint Cybersecurity Advisory and implement the recommended actions and mitigations. The mitigations are based on threat actor activity against Unitronics PLCs but apply to all internet-facing PLCs.

Minnesota Cities Confront Costs of PFAS Removal

A recent article from Minnesota Public Radio highlights how cities in Minnesota are confronting the costs of removing PFAS from drinking water in light of potential regulatory changes on the horizon.

The story kicks off with Cottage Grove, which has commenced the construction of a $39 million treatment plant to eliminate PFAS from its water supply. This development comes after 17 years since the detection of PFAS in the city's water. The new facility, funded by 3M's $850 million settlement with Minnesota over PFAS contamination, marks a move towards a long-term solution, following the construction of five temporary plants.

The project's significance extends beyond Cottage Grove, as it highlights a broader challenge faced by other Minnesota cities not covered by the 3M settlement. These cities confront the daunting task of financing the removal of PFAS from their water, especially with the U.S. EPA proposing stricter limits on six types of PFAS. 

EPA Announces $70 Million WIFIA Loan to Advance Drought Resilience in California

The U.S. EPA, at an event in San Bernardino, California, recently announced a $70 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District. This WIFIA funding aims to support an innovative regional partnership to help secure a drought-resilient water supply while supporting the long-term ecological health of the Upper Santa Ana River.

Since its creation, EPA’s WIFIA program has announced nearly $20 billion in financing to support over $43 billion in water infrastructure projects that are strengthening drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure while creating over 140,000 jobs, according to the agency.


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