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Proceedings Paper

The role of technology in enhancing water security: protecting a valuable asset
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Paper Abstract

Drinking water is one of the nation's key infrastructure assets that have been deemed vulnerable to deliberate terrorist attacks. While the threat to reservoir systems and water sources is deemed to be minimal, the vulnerability of the drinking water distribution systems to accidental or deliberate contamination due to a backflow event is becoming a well-recognized possibility. The myriad possible points of incursion into a distribution system and the ease of mounting a backflow event, combined with the fact that little or no quality monitoring occurs after the water has left the treatment plant, makes the danger of such an attack acute. This was clearly stated in a General Accounting Office (GAO) report to Congress that listed the vulnerability of the distribution system to attack as the largest security risk to water supplies. Prior to this there has not been a system capable of detecting such an event and alerting the system's managers so that effects of an attack or accident can be contained. The general scientific consensus is that no practical, available, or cost-effective real-time technology exists to detect and mitigate intentional attacks or accidental incursions in drinking water distribution systems. The rapid detection and identification of breaches of security in the water distribution system is crucial in initiating appropriate corrective action. The ability of a technology system to detect incursion on a real time basis and give indications as to the cause could dramatically reduce the impact of any such scenario. As the vulnerability of the distribution system becomes more widely recognized, the development of a system such as the one described will be an invaluable tool in maintaining the integrity of the nations drinking water supply.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 May 2005
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 5781, Optics and Photonics in Global Homeland Security, (19 May 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.606940
Show Author Affiliations
Dan Kroll, Hach Homeland Security Technologies (United States)
Jeff Throckmorton, Hach Homeland Security Technologies (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5781:
Optics and Photonics in Global Homeland Security
Theodore T. Saito, Editor(s)

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