Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protecting drinking water systems from deliberate contamination

05.07.2013
An international project has developed a response programme for rapidly restoring the use of drinking water networks following a deliberate contamination event.

The importance of water and of water infrastructures to human health and to the running of our economy makes water systems likely targets for terrorism and CBRN (chemical, biological and radionuclide) contamination. Reducing the vulnerability of drinking water systems to deliberate attacks is one of the main security challenges.


This is biofilm on a metal coupon which has been immersed in drinking water.

Credit: University of Southampton

SecurEau, a four-year Seventh Framework Programme funded project, involved 12 partners, including the University of Southampton, from six European countries. It has developed a toolbox that can be implemented by a major European city in response to a contamination event, which includes:

•tools for detecting water quality changes;
•methods for rapidly identifying the source(s) of intentional contamination;
•multi-step strategies for cleaning distribution systems;
•analytical methods for confirming cleaning procedure efficiency.
Research groups from the University of Southampton, the only UK partner in the project, developed new methods and technologies for detecting low levels of microbial and radiological contaminants and improving the efficiency of decontamination protocols, with special attention to the role of biofilms.

The SecurEau team developed water quality sensors to be installed in a drinking water system, which allows an alert to be issued rapidly when abrupt changes in the quality of water are detected. These were confirmed by development of specific molecular tools by Southampton and several other partners.

The team also developed 'sentinel coupons' of polymeric materials (HDPE, EDPME, etc.) to be installed in water distribution systems for deposits and biofilms to form on their inner surface. The coupons would be installed in the water supply system to monitor the concentration of the pollutant absorbed onto the like pipe walls. They would then be used to validate the cleaning procedures applied throughout the network during the crisis phase but also during 'normal' operation of the network.

Project partners also developed mathematical models to determine the areas which have been contaminated and the sources of contamination, and various cleaning methods, both traditional and new ones, to be applied to decontaminate the network.

Professor Bill Keevil, Director of Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, says: "If a contamination event (accidental or deliberate) occurs in a drinking water network, it is essential to identify the sources of contamination and to determine the area which is likely to be contaminated, in order to isolate and decontaminate the affected area only, as well as keep supplying drinking water in non-affected areas.

"Our experiments show that coupon-monitoring devices are suited to follow deposit / biofilm formation in drinking water distribution systems as well as to investigate and confirm the successful removal of deposits from surfaces."

Professor Ian Croudace, Director of the University's Geosciences Advisory Unit, adds: "Rapidly restoring the functionality of drinking water infrastructures (catchment areas, raw water transfer systems, treatment facilities, treated water reservoirs and distribution networks), and the access to safe drinking water represents another major concern for regulatory agencies and water utilities. Indeed, the damage resulting from impairment of drinking water services would seriously impact the quality of life of many people not only by directly harming them but also making water systems unusable for a long period of time with a risk of societal disorder (similar situation as with any accidental contamination events or natural disasters)."

This research has led to publication of a guide for end users and disseminated via a three day workshop in Germany involving 150 participants from 26 countries.

Further information is available from the project website http://www.secureau.eu

Glenn Harris | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers devise microreactor to study formation of methane hydrate

23.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

ShAPEing the future of magnesium car parts

23.08.2017 | Automotive Engineering

New insights into the world of trypanosomes

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>