Drinking Water Distribution Systems: A Dual-Use Vision for Implementing an Environmental Observatory for an Engineered System

by D. L. Boccelli,
R. Janke,
R. Murray,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: World Environmental and Water Resource Congress 2006: Examining the Confluence of Environmental and Water Concerns


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7, has been tasked as the lead federal agency in protecting water infrastructure in the U.S. As part of this directive, research has begun ondeveloping tools and strategies for consequence assessment, contaminant warning systems (CWS), and response management for drinking water distribution systems. The contaminant warning system portion of this research has been formulated toconsist of three data streams: public health data, water quality sensor reporting, andcomposite sampling. The Water Infrastructure Protection Division (WIPD) of the National Homeland Security Research Center (within the EPA) has been developingapproaches for implementing a sensor-based CWS. The sensor-based CWS usestypical water quality sensors, rather than contaminant specific sensors, to provide utilities a dual-benefit sensor network for both security and general management operations for improved water quality. Environmental systems analysis plays a large role in the development of a CWS. In2003, WIPD began a program entitled the Threat Ensemble Vulnerability Assessment (TEVA) Research Program. Phase I tools of the TEVA program have been developed for: 1) consequence assessment through a Monte Carlo based approach for simulating large numbers of contamination events; and 2) optimal sensor placement to minimize the expected consequences of potential events. The Phase I tools havebeen applied to the network models of several participating large-scale utilities. Phase II studies will develop real-time tools associated with a CWS that work with hydraulic and water quality sensors based on optimization, numerical, and statistical techniques. These tools will utilize real-time sensor data for, as examples, event detection, contaminant source location, and contaminant tracking. Phase II also includes the design and implementation of an environmental observatory for an engineered system (i.e., a CWS), which will provide the ability totest, evaluate, and refine the tools associated with the TEVA program. A complete set of water quality sensors will be placed at optimal locations throughout the distribution system. A sub-set of water quality, flow, and pressure sensors will beplaced at additional locations to ensure adequate spatial coverage corresponding to specific distribution system metrics (e.g., hydraulic residence time). Water quality monitoring will provide baseline information for understanding a multitude of issues, such as false-positive rates for sensor network reliability. Tracer tests will be used tosimulate otherwise low-probability events that assist in evaluating the performance of the Phase I and II tools. The combined hydraulic and water quality data will also beused to improve the ability of distribution system network models to represent observed dynamic behavior. The TEVA research program is a collaborative effort with other universities andnational laboratories. Our collaborative efforts will continue to expand to: 1) develop tools that will assist utility decision makers with daily operational and managementissues as well as long-term planning and design decisions as part of the dual-usebenefit; and 2) integrate the sensor based CWS data with other information to developa fully integrated warning system, which will include, but not limited to, public health syndromic information and emergency room data. These issues will require the collaboration with other individuals and groups in areas such as public health, epidemiology, and urban planning.

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