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Development of an Early Warning System for Drinking Water Safety and Security

Project Title: Development of an Early Warning System for Drinking Water Safety and Security
Project Number:2454ANB
Project Chief:
Project Start Date: 01-OCT-2002
Project End Date: 30-SEP-2005

Project Objectives

  • Reconnaissance of field conditions for optimal location of EWS locations in conjunction with the consortium.
  • Design and construct/upgrade gaging stations to house EWS equipment.
  • Install, operate, and maintain real time monitoring equipment using available and state-of-the-art sensors and backgroundwater-quality characteristics and for biochemical agents that may be used as threats to drinking water safety.
  • Continuously or intermittently monitor water quality from the EWS.
  • Field-scale testing of new sensor probes developed by Federal and State Laboratories and the private sector.
  • Generate and manage a stream of high quality real time water-quality data that would benefit the water companies in making decisions regarding plant operations with respect to water pumping and treatment options. Test and evaluate different sampling and installation techniques for reliability and maintenance including (a) pumped flow through methods and (b) in situ.
  • Evaluate the optimal instream (depth and width) locations for the placement of the probes in streams to account for instream mixing and to ensure that the water supply is being protected from potential contamination from accidental and intentional spills.
  • Evaluate previously conducted time of travel studies to determine optimal locations of upstream EWS stations in the source water. Make recommendations for future locations of EWS stations.
  • Statistical interpretation of real-time data to evaluate relations between stage, water-quality characteristics, and other sensor data to predict possible contamination of source water.
  • Provide technical guidance on the installation, operation, and maintenance of the real time monitoring equipment for deployment in other areas of the United States.

Statement of Problem

The USGS will assist in the development of a prototype and multipurpose Early Warning System (EWS) for drinking water safety and security from intentional and accidental spills that utilizes real time monitoring. USGS will work with a consortium that consists of USEPA Region 2, Rutgers University Center for Information Management, Integration, and Connectivity (CIMIC), NJDEP, and three public and private water companies to The North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, Passaic Water Supply Commission, and the New Jersey American Water Works Company, New Jersey Division to develop the EWS.

Strategy and Approach

  • Reconnaissance of field conditions for optimal location of EWS locations in conjunction with the consortium. Ideally, a prototype EWS at each water utility would include at least three stations-one upstream from the surface-water intake, one near the intake, and one in the distribution system. At first, one station will be selected in order to test the proof of concept for collection of data and then be expanded to other stations as the sample collection method is resolved.
  • Design and construct/upgrade gaging stations to house EWS equipment. Existing structures will be used where available to minimize costs. Existing structures may need to be expanded to house all of the needed electrical equipment, plumbing, and sensors. Heating and air conditioning may be needed to ensure calibrated sensor operation at all temperatures and field conditions. Install, operate, and maintain real time monitoring equipment using available and state-of-the-art sensors and backgroundwater-quality characteristics and for biochemical agents that may be used as threats to drinking water safety.
  • Continuously or intermittently monitor water quality from the EWS. The testing and evaluation monitoring design would include 3 tiers of data collection as suggested by Sandia researchers.
  • Field-scale testing of new sensor probes developed by Federal and State Laboratories and the private sector. As new technology becomes available, sensors will be deployed in the field alongside of the backgroundwater-quality characteristics. These sensors should be laboratory- and bench-scale tested at other locations such as the USEPA Test and Evaluation Facility in Cincinnati, Ohio,or through the USEPA Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program. http://www.epa.gov/etv/centers/center2.html
  • Generate and manage a stream of high quality real time water-quality data that would benefit the water companies in making decisions regarding plant operations with respect to water pumping and treatment options. Supply the data in table and graphical format over time at appropriate intervals.
  • Test and evaluate different sampling and installation techniques for reliability and maintenance including (a) pumped flow through methods and (b) in situ.
  • Evaluate the optimal Instream (depth and width) locations for the placement of the probes in streams to account for Instream mixing and to ensure that the water supply is being protected from potential contamination from accidental and intentional spills.
  • Evaluate previously conducted time of travel studies to determine optimal locations of upstream EWS stations in the source water. Make recommendations for future locations of EWS stations.
  • Statistical interpretation of real-time data to evaluate relations between stage, water-quality characteristics, and other sensor data to predict possible contamination of source water.
  • Provide technical guidance on the installation, operation, and maintenance of the real time monitoring equipment for deployment in other areas of the United States.

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