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Homeland Security

Security Awareness for Levee Owners

Historically, terrorist groups have conducted extensive surveillance of potential infrastructure targets both to help them select the target and to plan the attack. These efforts can be conducted over many months or even years. Additional surveillance is usually conducted just prior to the attack to assess any security enhancements that have been implemented and to adjust the attack plan if necessary.

Although there has been no credible information to indicate that terrorists have identified levees as potential targets, the Department and its partners, the Dams Sector Coordinating Council and the Levee Sub-Sector Coordinating Council, agree that levee owners and operators should be aware of the possibility. Levee personnel should be alert to the following signs of possible surveillance attempts, particularly during periods of heightened national threat advisories:

  1. The presence of strangers or unknown vehicles in areas near or adjacent to the levee, particularly if observed over the course of multiple days.
  2. Individuals in accessible areas open to the public who do not fit the normal profile or behavior of walkers, joggers, boaters, or bicyclists.
  3. Persons using cameras, video devices, or sketching equipment to photograph or diagram levee structures or their support systems such as pumps, gates, or electrical or communications facilities.
  4. Unusual aircraft flyovers or boating activities.
  5. Cuts in fencing or gates, particularly to key areas of the levee structure with no resulting theft, vandalism, or other petty criminal activity.
  6. Persons approaching levee employees/friends/family members or calling/visiting/e-mailing the headquarters with questions about the operation of the levee such as mapping, inundation, or facility information.
  7. The theft of marked vehicles or uniforms from the levee district or its contractors.

The above list should not be considered all-inclusive, and employees should use their good judgment and experience to identify activities that they deem to be suspicious.

Suspicious activity should be reported promptly according to any reporting protocols established by the levee owner or operator. If deemed appropriate, it should also be reported to the local law enforcement agency and local FBI office and to the Department of Homeland Security, by phone at 202–282–9201 or by e-mail at

In reporting the incident, the caller should be prepared to describe the suspicious behavior and provide a description of the person(s), vehicles, etc. Persons should be identified by gender, race, complexion, height, weight, hair and eye color, facial hair, clothing, and distinguishing characteristics such as a limp. Vehicles should be described by make, model, type, year, color, markings, license number, or other distinguishing characteristics. To the extent possible, planes should be identified by color, size, and tail number and boats by type, size, color, registration ID, and any markings or other characteristics.

A more detailed description of surveillance indicators is available in Security Awareness Guide: Levees (PDF - 20 pages, 2.93 MB), published by the Department with the assistance of the Dams Sector Coordinating Council and the Levee Sub-Sector Coordinating Council.

Last Published Date: August 3, 2012

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