News from Mission Communications for Water and Wastewater Professionals
Issue 31, Summer 2018
Contents
Mission Exceeds Expectations with Connectivity and Customer Service
Mission Secure Against Server Vulnerabilities
Chemicals in Popular Sunscreen Brands Bleaching Coral Reefs


According to axios.com, lightning strikes Earth about 100 times every second. 
 
Lightning is a particular concern throughout the summer months for professionals in the water and wastewater industries. 
 
The cellular antenna associated with Mission RTUs generally does not require extreme elevation, which makes it less vulnerable to lightning than mast-mounted antennas.

To ensure your equipment is as safe as possible from lightning strikes, confirm that it is installed correctly and wired according to best practices. Protect analog instruments with surge suppressors. 
 
If your site is in an area that is particularly prone to lightning strikes, you may consult NFPA 780 "Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems" or discuss the issue with a specialist in your area.

Tradeshows

July 15-19
Lake Charles, LA

August 15-17
Indianapolis, IN

August 27-29
Columbus, OH

September 10-12
Myrtle Beach, SC

September 10-12
Virginia Beach, VA

September 12-13
Worley, ID

Séminaire AIMQ 2018
September 16-19
Rivère-du-Loup, QC

September 18-21
Winnepeg, MB






Webinars   

Week 4: Web Portal II
Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow, and Advanced Topics

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation, and Installation

Week 3: Web Portal I
Unit Setup Options, Notification Setup Options, Alarm Groups, Website Tools

Week 4: Web Portal II
Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow, and Advanced Topics

Week 1: Survey of Features

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation, and Installation

Week 3: Web Portal I
Unit Setup Options, Notification Setup Options, Alarm Groups, Website Tools

Week 4: Web Portal II Supergraph, Reporting, Volumetric Flow, and Advanced Topics

Week 5: Special Topics

Week 2: Hardware, Instrumentation, and Installation

Week 3: Web Portal
Unit Setup Options, Notification Setup Options, Alarm Groups, Website Tools






















































































































Mission Exceeds Expectations with
Connectivity and Customer Service

South Carolina's Kershaw County and Lee County Regional Water Authority was established in 1969 as a not-for-profit organization called Cassatt Water Company. At the
This 200,000 gallon elevated tank is controlled by a Mission unit. Photo credit: Will Baker.
time, their scope of service included only 500 customers. In 1975, Cassatt Water joined with Kershaw and Lee counties and expanded its service area. Then in 2014, Cassatt Water converted to a Special Purpose District and adopted its new name, though the Authority is still referred to as Cassatt Water by local community members. Currently pumping 541 million gallons of water annually, the Authority is comprised of approximately 764 square miles and provides water service to nearly 25,000 people. 

Cassatt Water began its upgrade to Mission-managed SCADA in March of 2017. Cassatt operators currently use  eight  Mission RTUs to monitor tanks and remotely control wells and booster stations. Cassatt experienced connectivity issues with various other systems in the past and often had to contact their cellular carriers to troubleshoot issues. Mission maintains direct relationships with major cellular carriers, so customers will never have to contact cellular providers in an attempt to solve connectivity issues. Mission is continuously working to resolve these concerns before they become full-scale problems.
 
Wayne Littleton, P roduct Specialist for Mission's South Carolina distributor,  ClearWater Inc., suggested Mission products to the utility. Then, upon becoming CEO of Cassatt Water, Donna Tuttle indicated that she had previous experience with the Mission system while working for a neighboring utility, and it proved to be an impressive product. She said, "I knew that your customer service was always excellent. I am a huge believer in good customer service because it does not matter what kind of product you have--if your customer service is bad, your product is worthless." She went on to explain that she also contacted her former coworkers, and they were still satisfied with the service. Littleton set Cassatt Water up with a trial of Mission RTUs so they could thoroughly review unit performance. 
 
In this photo, Will Baker, Data and Telemetry Manager, poses with a Mission RTU. Photo credit: Will Baker.
Will Baker, Data and Telemetry Manager, said, "In a couple of places we ran Mission RTUs where we had experienced connectivity issues in the past, and the Mission units never missed a beat." John Watkins, Director of Operations spoke in regard to reliability. "If your system is not reliable you can have customers out of water or tanks overflowing and you may not know about it until it becomes a crisis situation," he said. "With a system that is reliable like Mission, you avoid these kinds of issues." Tuttle wanted to let the service speak for itself. "All I did was introduce Will and John to the idea of using Mission--I wanted them to decide for themselves after trying the product. I was very pleased that they liked it and that it was going to help them solve some of their past issues."
 
Mission values strong customer service and works with customers to better meet their needs. When asked about their satisfaction with Mission service thus far, Tuttle said, "It is important that you partner with a system that listens to its customers because they are the best resource when it comes to monitoring your product and developing new ones. With Mission we feel like we have found an excellent partner." Mission takes pride in attentiveness to customer concerns and requirements. The MyDro series of RTUs was developed largely in response to customer requests for more sophisticated and convenient system features.
 
As budget allows, Cassatt Water plans to continue to phase out their existing system
This recently installed MyDro RTU controls one of Cassatt Water's elevated tanks. Photo credit: Will Baker.
devices in favor of Mission RTUs. They are also in the process of upgrading their Mission legacy RTUs to the MyDro series. Due to the ease of upgrade and installation, all their future units will be MyDro RTUs. Regarding the enhanced series, Baker explained, "I definitely like the screen and being able to see everything that is going on right there, versus having to pull up the tablet or laptop when doing troubleshooting or even the install and setup. You've got everything right there in front of your face--right there in the box with you.  That's a lot better."
 
To learn more about the MyDro series, download the data sheet. If you are interested in a running a trial of Mission products at your utility, contact sales@123mc.com to learn more.
 
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Follow Mission on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter ( @123mc) to find out about important system updates. 

Download the mobile app and link it to your Twitter account. You can set your preferences to allow push notifications for Mission posts. Follow these steps to enable notifications from your browser:

1. Go to Mission's profile page from your desktop browser.
2. Select the three small circles next to the follow button for more user options.
3. Select "Turn on mobile notifications." 

Follow us on Twitter




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Mission Secure Against Server Vulnerabilities

Every week we read about a new information technology security issue. Many are rooted in human negligence--important security patches not being applied and using trivial password credentials are only two examples. Occasionally we learn of highly technical vulnerabilities. Earlier this year, the vulnerabilities Spectre and Meltdown arose. Vulnerabilities of this type exploit a performance enhancement technique, called speculative execution, that has been included in almost all processor chips for many years.
 
The powerful brains of modern computers not only execute a given command but also anticipate the possible results of the following command. Upon completion of the first task, the microprocessor can choose the correct second result rather than spend time calculating it. Vulnerabilities take advantage of the speculative result not being part of the privileged memory.
 
The specific details of this type of vulnerability are so technical that generally only advanced computer engineers can fully understand them. An imperfect analogy of how this works is as follows: suppose you need to arrive at the airport as quickly as possible. To ensure you get there, you could order a ride from two competing rideshare services and take the one that reaches you first. In this case, the command is the act of calling a car, and the possible outcomes are whether you will be a patron of one service or the other. Being a good person, you can minimize the hassle you caused by canceling the other car before it arrives. There are possible negative consequences of this action, as you may end up banned from the rideshare program that you cancelled. Fortunately, the wasted computer efforts of speculative calculations only caused some electrons to go out of their way, and they tend to be more forgiving than disgruntled drivers. In this case, the exploitation comes into play if a bad actor has been monitoring your home and now knows you will be out of town, allowing them easy access to rob you.
 
One of the worst vulnerabilities of this decade,  Heartbleed , also involved reading arbitrary memory, though it was never exploited at scale.  In order for the vulnerability to be exploited, malicious and sophisticated software must be installed adjacent to the target code. A means of retrieving and decoding the hacked memory also must be implemented.
 
Servers that are tightly controlled are less susceptible to these vulnerabilities. By controlling the software that runs on the server, the malicious code can't be installed. Cloud environments like AWS and Azure are based on multiple tenants utilizing shared servers so there is no easy way to know exactly what other software is utilizing the microprocessor. Thankfully, speculative execution patches have been rolled out for Windows, AWS, and Azure. Pundits speculated that operating system patches to address the problem would cause severe performance degradation, but real-world measurements seem to indicate that speculative execution was more marketing hype than actual performance enhancement.

Mission takes security seriously with monitoring systems that are layered and redundant so that any anomaly can be addressed before it becomes critical. Unlike services that utilize public and cloud servers, Mission owns and manages its own computer equipment. Mission security procedures are based on defense-in-depth security policies, which utilize enterprise-grade routers and keep firmware and software up to date with security patches. The facility that houses Mission servers is protected by security guards and layers of biometric validation. When access is required to the servers, only individuals pre-registered on the access control list are allowed to proceed through the multiple authentication steps, one of which includes iris scans. 
 
To minimize your security vulnerabilities, make sure you have written policies and procedures and that they are enforced. Your general staff should use best practices in regards to credentials and device protection, and your IT staff must diligently maintain hardware and software assets.

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Chemicals in Popular Sunscreen Brands Bleaching Coral Reefs

The way residents and tourists protect themselves from the sun's harmful UV rays may change soon in some tropical vacation destinations. In response to a 2015 study by The University of Central Florida (UCF), lawmakers in both Hawaii and the Caribbean island of Bonaire passed bills this spring to prohibit the sale and distribution of sunscreens that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. According to the UCF study, these chemicals are a contributing factor to the bleaching and degradation of coral reefs. If the bills are signed into law, they will go into effect on January 1, 2021. 
 
This photo shows a starkly bleached coral amongst a dead reef. Photo credit: 123rf.com.
The study by UCF indicates that these chemicals harm coral by causing damage to their DNA during the larval stage. The coral become trapped in their own skeletons and are unable to float in the ocean current and spread out. Oxybenzone and octinoxate also cause bleaching, which occurs when the nutritious and life-sustaining algae in coral is expelled, essentially causing them to starve to death. 
 
Oxybenzone and octinoxate are listed as the primary active ingredients in more than 3,500 of the most popular and top-rated brands of sunscreen, and unfortunately there aren't many alternatives that provide such potent protection against UV-rays. The harmful effects of oxybenzone to coral have been observed at concentrations of as little as 62 parts per trillion, which is about the equivalent of one drop in six Olympic-sized swimming pools. No new sunscreen ingredients have been approved by the FDA since the 1970s, when toxicity testing was not as extensive as it is today. 
 
While the most affected areas include popular tourist destinations, oxybenzone has been found in drinking water from Honolulu to Alaska, inside fish that are consumed by humans,
Oxybenzone and octinoxate not only bleach, but also kill coral in their larval stage. Photo credit: 123rf.com.
and in the blood of 97% of Americans. Experts believe that an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen are deposited into the ocean each year, and the solution isn't as simple as abstaining from sunscreens that include these chemicals when you're at the beach. Much of the water that runs down shower drains is treated and deposited back in the ocean, so these chemicals can reach the coral whether you've been at the beach or working in your backyard. 
 
Coral reefs protect shorelines from wave impacts, which is particularly necessary in the event of tsunamis and hurricanes. This makes it vital that we restore these areas before the damage becomes too extensive to repair. Other factors that harm the coral reefs include ocean warming and sewage dumping. As an individual, the best way you can mitigate the issue is to choose naturally occurring mineral alternatives, such as those containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Alternatively, you can forego all hygienic products when you'll be in the ocean and opt instead to cover up with wet suits, rash guards, long sleeved clothing, and hats. You can also reduce your plastic waste, as many of these products end up in the ocean where they harm wildlife and contribute to pollution. 

"Water cannot rise higher than its source, neither can human reason." 
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge


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