Recently, the CIPAC working group came out with their conclusions and recommendations on contamination warning systems – mainly the need is there, the technology exists, there is not a one size fits all system, and to make the business case we should look into the dual use of these systems to build an ROI model on operational savings. This can come in the form of reductions in response times to all organizational activities through automation and control of procedures, optimization of processes such as treatment chemical usage, early discovery of main breaks and collapsed pipes, detection of equipment failures, etc.
Below I will define what a contamination warning system is, and you can explore for yourself through the WaterSentinal Draft Document that is readily available on google the methodology and architecture for configurations of these systems. In the future, I will discuss different components and their dual use.
The concept of a contamination warning systems (CWS) is defined as:
“The active deployment of monitoring technologies and/or strategies and enhanced surveillance activities to collect, integrate, analyze, and communicate information to provide a timely warning of potential water contamination incidents and initiate response actions to minimize public health impacts.”- USEPA Water Sentinel Draft Document (2005)
To best optimize detection it is first necessary to understand what are indicators for these events. These include public health notifications (centers for disease control, hospitals, etc), security breaches (physical or cyber), witness accounts, notification by a perpetrator, consumer complaints (public or internal hot lines), notification by law enforcement, notification by news media (including social media), and unusual water quality stemming from online instrumentation, grab, composite or compliance sampling
I’d like to highlight (4) four types of surveillance used to optimize detection of a system abnormality:
- Enhanced security monitoring (ESM) includes equipment to actively monitor and detect security breaches at distribution system facilities including CCTV, door alarms, and motion detectors.
- Online water quality monitoring (WQM) Instrumentation utilized for continuous monitoring of locations throughout the distribution system. In the United States common measurement parameters are chlorine, pH and turbidity. The data created by these instruments is often analyzed through a software known as an Event Detection System (EDS) which analyzes anomalies in water quality from a baseline.
- Consumer complaint surveillance (CCS) analysis of the volume and type of complaint calls (such as smell, taste, or appearance) which can automatically trigger a response.
- Public health surveillance (PHS) analysis or information sharing of public health data which can include over-the-counter (OTC) drug sales, hospital admission reports, 911 calls, and poison control center calls, to alert to a potential water contamination event. The delay in responses are variable depending on the type of water quality contaminant or combination.