Machine Design

Don't drink the water

Water utilities, by design, are vulnerable to contamination, either accidental or intentional

Don’t drink the water

Bill Hart, project lead for the Sandia team that developed water-system software, does some field checking in the Albuquerque foothills.

. Now, a prototype system from Sandia National Laboratories uses software tools to simulate threats and identify vulnerabilities in drinking-water systems, measure potential public health impacts, and evaluate mitigation and response strategies. It’s all part of the EPA’s Threat Ensemble Vulnerability Assessment program to counter threats against water utilities.

The software’s event-detection methods and sensor simulator mimic the qualities of affordable, off-the-shelf sensors commonly used by water utilities to monitor water quality. “Careful adaptation of classical algorithms solves sensor placement problems on networks 100 larger than those previously cited in the water security literature,’ says Sandia Researcher, Jon Berry. Once operational, the system will pinpoint a contamination source, track movement of contaminants, and alert operators when to sound the “all clear.”

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