Russian hackers hijack, damage Lakeland’s wastewater treatment software

At the Lakeland city board’s Feb. 11 meeting, city leaders approved replacing an infrastructure system that had been hijacked by Russian hackers.

SCADA system

Lakeland logo copyThe board unanimously approved the lower of two bids for a construction contract for the city’s wastewater treatment plant Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

The staff report stated that Russian hackers had hijacked the system, leaving it inoperable. The SCADA system is used for remote monitoring and control of the wastewater treatment plant and sewer lift stations. Without it, wastewater staff must respond in person to all alarms.

With the SCADA system, personnel are able to log in remotely, monitor and/or resolve the problem.

Gaines, Williams and Associates, an engineering firm specializing in control systems, was hired to assess the condition of the existing SCADA system.

The staff report noted that much of the existing equipment is outdated or has difficult-to-obtain parts and service, so the recommendation was to purchase a new system.

Industrial Controls & Electrical LLC was awarded the $129,246 bid with a construction contingency of $6,000. The total contract price is $135,246.

The approved system is Allen-Bradley, a respected brand commonly used by Mid-South municipalities, with a Memphis-area parts distribution warehouse.

The expected life span of a typical SCADA system is 20 years as long as the software is kept updated, the staff report noted.
Also included in the project are dissolved oxygen meters and video security system. The wastewater treatment plant does not currently have dissolved oxygen meters, which are an important measure to determine the amount of microorganisms needed to treat the wastewater.

Other business

The board also:

  • Authorized the city manager to complete a grant application process for about 35 acres of property on U.S. 70 (referred to as the “Jones Property”), located south of the Lakeland middle school property. The acreage will be used by the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Reviewed the I.H. Park Improvement Plan, including the proposed new amphitheater. A name for the amphitheater met with general approval during discussions: The Lamp” will incorporate the “L” of Lakeland” with the first three letters of “amphitheater.” City manager Jim Atkinson projected that the board will be able to review more details and consider taking formal action on this project at the March meeting.
  • Made routine amendments to the FY2015-16 budget.
  • Amended the membership of the Economic Development Commission and updated the Lakeland Code.
  • Named Vice Mayor Josh Roman as the board’s liaison to the Economic Development Commission.
  • Authorized the organization of the Keep Lakeland Beautiful Commission as an entity.
    The vote was split, with Mayor Wyatt Bunker dissenting. He noted that he supports the commission but believes it should be a subcommittee under the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Heard from Lakeland citizen David Abbott, who was concerned about the language used to describe the city’s audit at an earlier meeting. The mayor said the audit showed the city is in good financial health and has strong internal financial controls.